Those with little imagination tend to think of just three brands when it comes to outright automotive performance; Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. Sure, there’s a certain million-dollar-plus W16-powered king of the hill that resembles a giant scarab beetle, but let’s keep our fantasies a little closer to the ground. So after the three European exotics, there’s everyone else. Then, there are the American brands.
It could be that being as both the Corvette and new it’s-no-longer-a-Dodge SRT Viper circulate American blood, sweat and tears in their engines, that they’re just not perceived to be as sexy as the exotic European imports. So does that make the affectionate followers of these American athletes tasteless? Or are they outside-the-box connoisseurs that simply care about what’s under the hood? It’s really a mix of both depending on who you talk to. But nobody can deny the delight of being able to double the output of a potent GM small block engine with little more than a turbocharging kit, while still holding the simplicity of being able to be maintained by little more than a wrench.
Just this past weekend, the first SRT Viper ever sold at the latest Barrett-Jackson auction for a cool $300,000, benefiting the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. This new model doesn’t stray too far from tradition, as it possesses an 8.4L V10 engine producing 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque (a best for a naturally aspirated engine), and that’s in the base model. Just on paper alone, the new Viper looks to strike and inject its venom into the aging body of the 638-horsepower C6 Corvette ZR1. Look across town, and Ford now offers a
650 662-horse bruiser in the Mustang Shelby GT500. It might not be able to match the 580-horse Chevy Camaro ZL1 on the road course, but exclaiming that intoxicating power figure out loud will never, ever get old. Plus, there are rumors of a beloved Ford GT successor in the works, but that’s all they remain for now.
Meanwhile, General Motors carries a huge-ass ball in its court, with the expectations being to completely 1-up every other production performance model that represents the Star Spangled Banner with its all-new Corvette — or disappoint. This is not because the masses have set the 2014 C7 Corvette up for a huge fall, but rather because GM has managed to raise the bar — and thus everyone’s expectations — higher than ever. And for the first time ever, it has to deal with two 600+ horsepower American machines with the capabilities of matching, even outrunning the likes of what comes out of the stable marked by the Prancing Horse, or the Fighting Bull.
America has long believed that competition is what makes everything stronger. Looking ahead, the future Corvette will have more competition than ever. Additionally, while we know plenty about the 2014 C7 Corvette, we can’t say it will win out against the 2013 SRT Viper and/or its European foes when it comes time to compare on the track. Regardless, for once, it seems that the whole world is paying attention to American performance, and it’s a great time to soak it all in.