My Car Quest

October 19, 2017

People Prefer Corvettes To Vipers – But Why?

by Mike –

The Chevrolet Corvette can make a legitimate claim to be America’s favorite sports car. On the other hand Carroll Shelby was involved with the Viper – one of the most important people in the American car world.

Yet, the Viper is not quite as popular as the Corvette. Jason Lancaster gives us some reasons why.

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

Text by Jason Lancaster and photos by Mike Gulett

The Corvette and the Viper share so many of the same major characteristics — they’re both beefy, two seater, high-horsepower American supercars, so why do people choose the Corvette far more often than the Viper? The answer is somewhat complicated and layered.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

Before you analyze the differences of the two models, it’s important to remember that the Corvette and Viper should be in the same class.

Each model is the most powerful offered by their respective manufacturer. Both models only seat two passengers, they’re both quite large, have high horsepower output, and large engines.

When it comes to the differences, let’s jump right in and state the obvious — the Viper is a much more expensive car than the Corvette. At any given time, a Corvette year model versus the same year model Viper might of been as much as $40,000 (or more!) cheaper than the comparable model.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

As far as power and speed goes, that history is a little rocky. You’d be hard pressed to find an officially documented race where a Viper wiped the floor with a Corvette — in many cases, you’ll find quite the opposite. For people who pay the premium to own the Viper, that’s pretty painful.

Another notable difference is how drivers feel about the Viper versus the Corvette. The Viper has always been thought of as a very impractical vehicle, while the Corvette is quiet the opposite. Obviously, neither vehicle is equipped to tote around a family or haul around hunting equipment, the Corvette does go above and beyond in the areas of storage and utility when it comes to passenger comforts of a two-seater.

The cabin of the Corvette is much more comfortable (something Viper owners have always complained about) and the trunk is even made for a considerable amount of storage. Many people also complain about the quality of the interior of the Viper, noting that most of the components are cheaply made – the Corvette has never had such quality issues.

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

Chevy also seems to know how to handle the Corvette marketing and have made into more of a “everyman’s” car instead of some unattainable status car. The Corvette brand has never really “gone after” the more exotic sports cars in their design or the way the car has been marketed — even though many still do prefer the Corvette over the exotics with similar power and speed.

A common feeling amongst auto enthusiasts is that the biggest difference between the two is identity. The Corvette is a top of the line American made sports car — and so is the Viper, but that’s not how it’s marketed. Viper marketing has always tried to talk us into forgetting that the car is an American powerhouse, and acting as if it is an exotic like the Lamborghini or Ferrari.

Since it’s always been competing to get into the exotic market, the Viper has always had a touch of snobbery in the design. It has never really been made to please the driver, but lacks the prestige of the world class exotics. Simple design changes and options like offering an interior for smaller drivers or having an optional automatic model may have made the Viper a more relatable car.

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

Although the Viper seems more like a wayward evil twin, it’s still not a car to scoff at. The Viper was designed to be different, and it always has been — it’s one of those cars you will always be able to pick out in a sea of traffic, and even non-car people know a Viper when they see one.

Although it’s not practical or relatable, as a car person, you have to at least respect the innovation and let’s face it, it’s the only American car in which you can find a V10 engine, and that’s plenty enough reason to like it for most…just not enough to win over Corvette drivers.

Let us know what you think about the Viper and the Corvette in the Comments.

~~~

Author Jason Lancaster works with AccurateAutoAdvice.com, a site that offers timely and helpful advice for car owners.

Summary
People Prefer Corvettes To Vipers - But Why?
Article Name
People Prefer Corvettes To Vipers - But Why?
Description
The Corvette is more popular than the Viper according to the author.
Author

Comments

  1. Viper build quality was always one notch above kit car, drug dealers purchased many of them.

  2. I feel the need to offer a couple of counterpoints here. The Viper was never meant to be Dodge Corvette. What Bob Lutz envisioned was a modern day interpretation of the AC Cobra, a raw and bare bones experience. He knew that would mean a limited audience and thats part of what he wanted, seeing a Viper was to always be something special… something you would not see everyday. It was to be outrageous and unique and above all deliver that experience that was all about raw power.

    Also, I choked a bit on “Corvette” and “never had such quality issues”. Really? Corvettes from this same era are known for being a great performance value, but the trade off is… quality issues and cheap interiors. I realize “cheap” can be subjective, but just read any period magazine road test for example.
    Thanks.

    • I don’t agree. You personally might not like the interiors of Corvettes, but they’re not cheap….I’ve also never heard of a Corvette with well documented issues.

      I also don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone buying a second Viper…just saying…

      • …and I don’t mean that in a rude way. I like Vipers and Corvettes both, but there’s a lot more fans of the Corvette than Viper, there’s no denying that. Like the author says, it’s layered too, it’s not just an interior vs. interior thing anyways.

  3. Glenn Krasner says:

    I think the main points that Mr. Lancaster mentions tell the reasons most Americans prefer the Corvette over the Viper. Price, comfort, and sophistication are the main benefits of the Corvette over the Viper. Although the brute force of the Viper and its V10 were always well-respected, when it was introduced, it was just barely a complete car, and I think that reputation still follows it. Although now the Viper is very sophisticated, it is quite expensive compared to the Corvette, and that bare-bones reputation is still in the public’s mind. A comparably equipped Viper will almost twice as much as the Corvette, and the performance numbers over the Corvette do not justify it. With the Corvette, you get a great sports car at a great price, and people want that kind of value. Corvette tried the high-end, exotic car market with the post 1984 C4 line, and it did not sell many Corvettes in that iteration. If the priced of the Viper was lowered and the marketing angle changed, it would be more popular. But, for now, it will always be considered one of Bob Lutz’s exotic car vanity projects of limited production numbers, but definitely more popular than the Plymouth Prowler!!! Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

  4. I always used to wonder when I heard that sound coming up the street, was it the UPS truck or the neighbors Viper?
    There were a number of things that were just off enough to make you wonder why, HP wasn’t on that list.

    The styling was a bit weird
    the engine sound was not the best
    The interior looked cheap
    The emblems and branding were weak

    it all adds up to “really you want to be seen driving that” ?

  5. You are comparing a 2014 Corvette to a 2010 Viper? Have you even seen 2013 Viper?

    Viper is brutal and that is what makes it special. You have to be a true driver to control it… There is no electronic nannies unless what is required by the law.

    The things hurting Viper sales are the high price due to the production numbers and the lack of Auto transmission, which seems that most of the new consumers go for.

    • The photos are from my files and do not show the current Viper but do show the current Corvette. The author’s statements are about the current models.

  6. The Viper with the Alfa body or Alfa with Viper engine fixes many of it’s issues. It’s just not good branding when your selling a sports car and it’s instruments and interior pieces look like they came off a Dodge pickup truck.

  7. Unlike the much more expensive Viper, buying a Corvette is also buying into a special lifestyle with an attached family. What car generates so many Corvette events where you run into new found friends from all over the world? What car generates the “wave” when you see another Corvette on the road? What car generates a special relationship between the GM designers and Corvette fans? No snobbery there! I buy the Corvette because the car is beautiful, exciting, powerful, special, and I love my Corvette “family”

  8. Glenn Krasner says:

    Sunday, November 17th, 2013: Just wanted to let everybody know that in today’s New York Times, the front page of the Automobiles section has its front page story, “Hot From the Oven, 2 Slices of American Pie – Behind the Wheel: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and SRT Viper” by Ezra Dwyer. Mr. Dwyer is a very well respected automotive journalist who has a regular column in and contributes to other articles in “Automobile” magazine. He breaks this story down into two separate road tests and stories about each car. He seems genuinely impressed with the capabilities of each, but it seems to him that it’s like comparing apples to oranges. I think he sums it up nicely in the last part of the Viper article:
    “The difference between the Corvette and the Viper is that the “Vette wants to be a new Ferrari (at an 8th of the price – my words) while the Viper wants to be a 1965 Shelby Cobra. Either that, or a big rock on a catapult. It hasn’t decided.

    I don’t think Chevy has to worry about the Viper. But, Porsche might. The 2013 Viper in perhaps its only subtle gesture ever, includes a miniature map of the Nurburgring molded into the rubber of the passenger-side coin holder (Dwyer mentions earlier in the article that the record shows that the Viper is the second fastest production car ever to run laps at Germany’s famed Nurburgring track, and that it took an $845,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to dethrone it). I don’t want to make any predictions, but if I were Porsche I might not get too attached to that record track time.”

    To get the full gist of the articles, I definitely think it is worth going out and getting today’s Sunday New York Times or trying to see the article somewhere on the internet. Mr. Dwyer admires the reasonable price and modern capabilities of the Corvette, while also admiring the unrelenting raw power and “balls” of the Viper.

    From Glenn in the Bronx, NY

    • Lets put it in perspective the Nurburgring ranking is

      1. Radical SR8LM 6:48.00
      2. Radical SR8 6:55.00
      3. Porsche 918 Spyder 6:57.0
      4. Gumpert Apollo Speed 7:11.57
      5. Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR 7:12.13
      6. Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package 7:14.64
      7. Donkervoort D8 RS 7:14.89
      8. Porsche 911 GT2 RS 7:18.00
      9. Radical SR3 Turbo 7:19.00
      10. Nissan GT-R 7:19.10
      11. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 7:19.63

      Viper sits at 5th and has a Lexus breathing down it’s back, but all impressive for sure. Looking at the top 100 records one name dominates and that’s Porsche, so I don’t think they are too worried.

      • Glenn Krasner says:

        I could be wrong, but I believe that #1, #2, and #4 are not regular factory mass production cars like the stock Viper at #5. Basically, Dwyer was saying, that with a top speed of 209 mph, the Viper is a street legal racecar as opposed to the less powerful yet more refined Stingray. I strongly suggest that everybody try to get their hands on Mr. Dwyer’s front page story, as he does an excellent job of telling us the strong points of each car. The Corvette is an excellent and refined world class sports car at a very, very reasonable price, with practical comforts and good drivability on the street, while the Viper is a gung-ho, brute force-filled sports car, more at home on the track than the street. My words here and previously about Mr. Dwyer’s article, do not do the article or Mr. Dwyer any justice. His article was the best case to case comparison I have ever seen on the cars, with him badmouthing neither. He praises the strengths of each of these iconic vehicles, and I actually grew to respect the Viper more after reading his article, as he gave me a better understanding of what the car is and what it is meant to be. I am a Corvette guy through and through, but I definitely have a new respect for the Viper after having read Mr. Dwyer’s article. Glenn in the Bronx, NY

    • Just posted 11-2013 Nisomo GTR beats the Vipers time

      Nürburgring Nordscheleife time is 7:08.679 for the Nissan GT-R NISMO.

  9. Glenn Krasner says:

    The new issue of “Road and Track” just came out, the December 2013/January 2014 issue, and they tested 13 different cars, and have voted the 2014 Corvette the “PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR”, which I am very happy about. However, they did not test the SRT Viper among the thirteen cars, so right after this post, I am sending an email to “Road and Track”. For some reason, they managed to include among the thirteen cars, two BMWs, two Jaguars, and two Mercedes-Benz, but no Viper! Glenn in the Bronx, NY

  10. Bruce anderson says:

    All of you are full baloney, Viper rules.

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