Fearless Engineer Turns 1999 Dodge Viper Into a Rowdy Off-Roader

And I love it.
red car and sunset
SuperFast Matt/YouTube

Back in the mid-90s, there was a show called Viper on NBC featuring a crime-fighting chariot masquerading as a Dodge Viper. (Don’t worry, I missed all four seasons too.) Through the magic of 90s-era CGI, the Viper in the show transformed into a go-anywhere vehicle with an arsenal inside like a modernized K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.

About a year ago, YouTuber and engineer Matt Brown skipped the whole transform-on-the-fly part and turned his 1999 Viper RT-10 into a full-time off-roading vehicle that punches way above its capabilities as a stock sportscar. This lifted, dirt-ready Viper was intended to “blast through sand washes and whoops in the desert” and Brown opted for a full 12-inch lift.

The engineer noted that adding off-road tires to this sports car would increase road noise, but that the car was already “as loud as a monster truck anyway” so it wouldn’t matter. He scoffed at the idea of putting a Viper body on a truck frame, saying “that wouldn’t make it an off-roading Viper; it would be an off-roading truck wearing a Viper hat.”

Why a Viper? Brown notes that the brakes are too small, the radiator is inadequate, and the best the HVAC system can do is offer a “gentle hint of cool air in a cabin that is heated like an oven from giant exhaust pipes.” But still, it’s a Viper. It looks marvelous and it has a beast of an 8.0-liter V10 under the hood (that’s equal to the displacement of 64 Honda Grom motorcycles, Brown notes wryly).

“If you took any decent sports car, lifted it a foot, and put off-road tires on it, you would make it a worse car,” Brown says in his March 2023 video. “But with the Viper, I think it’s a lateral move at worst.”

Brown (who calls his YouTube channel SuperFast Matt) copied a solid rear axle from a Jeep Wrangler, added a custom-made suspension system and Fox front shocks, and fabricated parts as needed in his shop. Along the way, he came up with some interesting solutions when things went sideways, always with his trusty OBD2 reader nearby.

After some troubleshooting, Brown got the Viper started last week and took it for its first post-lift spin on the road. He still has some work to do, but it does look fantastic. Now we’re waiting eagerly to see it go off-roading for real.

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