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Dodge Viper: Veni, vidi, vici

12 months ago

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Peter Robinson | Journalist


27 June 2023

Modena, 1993 – I love this place. There is nowhere more exciting for the car enthusiast. I’ve been coming to Modena for years, but never like this. Today, the new Dodge Viper has come to town and, hell, I’m the bloke at the wheel of the only Viper in Italy, one of six flown to Europe to test the market and for the European press to drive before sales begin.

The idea, cooked up by Jean Lindamood at Automobile magazine, is simple: let’s take this voluptuous, blood red, 8-litre V10-powered, Michigan-registered Yank roadster to the heartland of exotic sports cars. A reverse conquest, America raising the stars and stripes over Modena, Italy, 500 years after Columbus.

Modena, population 17,500, lies on the fertile Po River plain, Brenner Pass to the North, Autostrada del Sole to the south. Here the artisans drink sparkling red lambrusco, eat zampone (stuffed pig’s feet) and build the most exotic cars in the world. In 1993 that meant Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini, of course, plus Bugatti, Cizeta, and De Tomaso. Outrageous, irresponsible supercars. It had been this way for half a century. Maserati moved to Modena when Adolfo Orsi bought the firm from the Maserati brothers in 1937. Then Enzo Ferrari decided to build cars in the small village of Maranello, now virtually a southern suburb of Modena, in 1948.

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