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  1. #1
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    Reviving my 95 RT 10

    Hey All!

    I covered this briefly in a different thread, but I wanted to bring to light the unusual circumstance of buying and reconditioning my 1995 Dodge Viper RT/10.

    Back in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, I purchased a 2004 Porsche Boxster. I had 29,717 miles, was a 5-speed manual, and I bought it off of the second owner who had it for the last 13 years. I daily drove that car for the summer and put just over 5,000 miles on it. I decided to list it for sale as fall was approaching in hopes that I wouldn't have to store it for the winter. I sold it quickly, and it left my possession on September 2nd. I was planning on looking for a Viper or a Lotus Elise in spring 2021.

    A few short days after the sale of my Porsche, I was telling my step dad Mike about wanting either a Viper or a Lotus and he stumbled across a Facebook marketplace listing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about 350 miles from where I live. It was a listing for two vipers together (a black 95 Rt/10 and a white/blue 96 RT/10) but the description was very short and there were only two blurry photos. The listing price was cheap, but once I messaged the guy he immediately told me he was actually asking 5-figures less than the listing price due to some damage to the hood on one of the two cars. I was about 95% sure this was a scam.

    I ended up getting the sellers phone number and had a lengthy conversation about the two cars. They both were a little rough and we discussed the issues with both. The 95 was having a transmission issue amongst a few small things with about 50,000 miles. The white 96 had a few aftermarket enhancements, but the seller had accidently left it in neutral and it rolled into his plow truck. He did not have it titled in his name yet at the time of the accident, the insurance denied the claim, and the bodyshop had given him an estimate of $11,600 to fix it. It left a bad taste in his mouth and he just wanted to get rid of both cars.

    After a few days of working with him to get more pictures and VIN numbers, I was confident in the legitimacy of the cars. I initially made a very low offer on both, but I really only wanted the 95. After a few days of negotiations and getting him to split up the pair, we had came to a deal on the 1995. I got a hotel room on a friday night and went to the owners home saturday morning to purchase the car on September 19th, 2020. The seller had dozens of vehicles, many old and in non running shape. The 96 was actually sitting underneath a car port and mine was in a barn. The seller actually had a pretty phenomenal collection of automotive memorabilia and random stuff. I looked over and test drove the car. It was very dirty, it did have a few issues, but it actually ran and drove nicly. I handed over the cash and I proceeded to drive it back home that day.

    Although I was worried going from a very nice condition Porsche to a rougher Viper, I was ready for the challenge. I ended up getting the Viper for cheaper than any other running and driving example I gave seen to this day, and I actually manage automotive reconditioning for a living for a large dealership so I have experience in taking on something like this.

    To make the whole situation a little bit sweeter, my dad, another lifelog mopar guy, ended up buying the 96 from the same guy a few weeks later on 10/10/20. It was his first Viper as well and I may have talked him into it a bit .

    The rest of this thread will contain the extent of getting this Viper back the way I want it. I know it's going to be a "driver quality" car, and I am okay with that. It does not have to be perfect, but I will minimally get it nice. Most people think of a 60's muscle car or something along those lines when you hear of bringing a "barn find" car back into shape. Very few would ever suspect of it being a Viper. I have really enjoyed doing it so far and I have been able to do it in quite a cost effective manner as well. I cannot wait to do car shows, long drives, drag races, and track days with it this summer.

    The attached images are from the day I bought it! (and a bonus one of the 96 parked by a turkey!)

    Viper Day 1 Main.jpgViper Day 1 Rear.jpgViper Day 1 Interior.jpgDad's Viper Turkey.jpg
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  2. #2
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    First order of business after the long trek home back to Wisconsin was getting it washed: I am a bit of a detailing snob, so I was washing it within a few hours of getting it home. Not only was the paint dirty, but the inside looked like it hadn't been vacuumed in a long time. In fact, the whole car smelled weird (like an old barn, not a pleasant scent). I vacuumed it as best I could, washed the exterior well, gave it a coat of wax, treated the leather, and overall just cleaned it up a bit. It looked way better already, but the paint was heavily swirled, the car still smelled, and the engine bay was a mess still. After getting it cleaned up a bit, we decided to look into the transmission thing I spoke of earlier. My Dad (his mechanical skill set exceeds mine by a very significant amount) looked over the car and discovered the main issue. Basically, the bolt holding the clutch assembly in place had snapped. Because of this, the whole piece was moving when the clutch was pressed in and therefore the clutch would not fully disengage. After extracting the bolt and putting a new one in, the transmission immediately became so much better. The car shifted way easier and was just all around better.

    Viper Day 1 Wash.jpg
    Above: The first wash in my ownership
    Viper Clean for the first time.jpg
    Above: Cleaned up for the first time. My old 80' Fiat Spider 2000 lurking in the background
    Viper Clutch Repair.jpg
    Above: Working on the clutch repair
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  3. #3
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    Once the simple clutch repair was done, I wanted to get a little enjoyment out of the Viper before putting it away for the Wisconsin winter. I went on some drives with my dad once he bought his and I took mine out with other friends as well. As November was ending, I decided it would be time to start tackling the things I wanted to do. We got both Viper's filled up and but fuel stabilizer in them to keep them maintained over winter, as well as some battery tenders for the meantime.

    Viper with other Viper engine.jpg
    Above: Arrival of the 96 RT/10
    Viper and Mustang.jpg
    Above: Out for a drive on a abnormally warm November day with my friend's 11' Mustang GT 6-Speed
    Vipers last fuel 2020.jpg
    Above: Last fuel for both cars until next year
    Vipers Winter Strage 2020.jpg
    Above: Winter's Storage
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  4. #4
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    Steve-Indy's Avatar
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    Great story...keep the updates coming on both Vipers !!
    I don't send or receive "PM's" since I prefer DIRECT communication.

  5. #5
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    awesome
    THE IGNORE FEATURE WORKS, TRY IT...

  6. #6
    Enjoying the story. You were brave driving that car 350 miles home - especially with the clutch/transmission issue. And old belt? How bout Gen 1 headgasket? I would have trailered it. That being said, its a nice car and please keep us posted on bringing it up to speed (no pun intended).
    2013 Dodge Viper SRT Track Pack Adrenaline Red
    2016 Dodge Ram 1500 Bighorn Quad Cab 5.7L 4x4 Blue Streak Pearl

  7. #7
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    Before I continue the updates, I just wanted to explain the clutch/ transmission issue a little more.

    Knowing the risk of the car not making it, we did bring a trailer knowing very well we may have to use it. Everything looked good upon a quick inspection. I was not aware of what was wrong with the clutch at the time and the owner had explained the issues with it going into some gears. I had test drove it upon arrival and although the gearbox was stiff, it shifted fine. I had never even driven a viper so I honestly didn't know what to expect. The belt was in good shape and the vehicle overall seemed good to drive home. I knew it was a risk at the time and although in hindsight it would have been smarter to trailer it, I had the biggest smile on my face driving it away.

    I also wanted to add, there were a few minor items repaired up to this point. For example, there was a battery light on the dash and it was just a loose terminal; The best type of repairs are the no-cost ones.

    As 2021 came along I took the time to start taking care of the interior. The seats were removed first, as the driver side seat had major wear on the seat bolster. The interior repair specialist I know hooked me up and did a great job getting the seat to look better. The next thing to tackle was the parking brake. From the day I bought it, it was completely seized. The handle would not move at all. As the center console started to come apart, I found one of the worst things I could have: Mice had been living underneath the center console and the urine had caused the brake to seize up. This ended up making me pull almost the entire interior out, but I will elaborate upon that later. I cleaned out the old nesting and started treating the ebrake. A bunch of WD-40 loosened the mechanism up, and eventually the brake was able to start working again. I went out and bought rust remover to clean off the surface rust from the mechanism and cleaned it all up. Next up was to remove everything for a deep cleaning. I wanted to make sure there was no more nesting and that there was nothing living inside of my Viper.

    Bonus photo of the custom window stickers I ordered for christmas from Patrick Moore.

    Viper seat damaged.jpg
    Above: Seat damage before
    Viper seat fixed.jpg
    Above: After seat repair
    Viper handbrake repair.jpg
    Above: The disgusting mouse nest in the e-brake area
    VIper window stickers.jpg
    Above: The Monroney labels I ordered
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  8. #8
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    After discovering the less than ideal handbrake situation, I started to pull apart the interior. I removed all the seat frames, rear cabin trim, center speakers, and other interior pieces and thoroughly cleaned the inside. I wiped every trim piece down and deep cleaned the carpets. It not only took care of the funky smell, but it looked so much better. I got a bracket made to hold the radio in place (it was loose) and got the headlight switch replaced as well as the lever was fully coming out of the assembly and the headlights were difficult to turn on. I spray painted some discolored bolts and the center speaker covers before reinstalling them. As springtime came, I put the interior back together and did the springtime oil change. Looked everything over and got it ready to go for the nice weather.

    Viper interior dismantled.jpg
    Above: Interior disassembly
    Viper headlight control.jpg
    Above: Headlight control switch, old and new
    Viper Interior Complete.jpg
    Above: Interior cleaned and back together
    Viper oil change 3-2021.jpg
    Above: The springtime oil change!
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  9. #9
    This thread is fucking fantastic! Seeing someone reconditioning cars like this, for me, is like girls watching HGTV. Its crack.

  10. #10
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the positive feedback!

    Quick hop over to the 96 on this post!

    Obviously the hood damage was one of the biggest issues with the 96. As I stated earlier, the seller of the Vipers had been given a quote of $11,600 to repair the hood. Miraculously, there was a hood for sale in Indiana for a very reasonable price, and it already matched the car! The seller met my dad in Chicago with the hood. He got off lucky with the hood situation (if anyone wants a cracked 96 stone white/GTS blue hood, make an offer and i'll send it over to my dad) given how expensive they once were and how hard they are to come by. I helped him swap the hood, which was a little difficult with two people but we managed. Afterwards he pulled apart part of the interior and sanded down the dashboard. It looked rough and for some reason in the past holes were drilled into a few spots on the dashboard, so they were filled as well. I tend to be a "purist" when it comes to keeping cars as stock as possible, but I think the dashboard looked way better painted black than it did in the factory color. The blue steering wheel was also removed and the interior repair specialists hooked me up once again with a re-dye of the wheel.

    After the interior was put back together, my dad started tackling some under hood / suspension components. He replaced a belt and tensioner that was squeaking, pulled all the wheels off and deep cleaned them, replaced a transmission mount, replanced sway bar end links, installed a skip shift eliminator, polished the headlights, installed a seat lowering kit (he's like 6'4) and replaced the fog light bulbs. The oil has been changed for the season and he has gotten it all put back together and ready for the road.

    Dads VIper Hood Damage.jpg
    Above: Original hood damage
    Dads viper hood on truck.jpg
    Above: New hood on the truck
    Dads Viper apart.jpg
    Above: Interior Apart
    Dads Viper steering wheel.jpg
    Above: Steering wheel re-dye
    Dads Viper Interior.jpg
    Above: Interior reassembled
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  11. #11
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    A few additional photos from working on the 96

    Spring Maitnence.jpg
    Above: Disassembly for some suspension work
    Dads viper no hood.jpg
    Above: The no hood look. I think it would be awesome to cruise around like this
    Both Vipers Driveway.jpg
    Above: Bonus photo of the 2 together ready for a drive
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  12. #12
    Enjoying this! Two neglected cars being brought back into shape!
    2013 Dodge Viper SRT Track Pack Adrenaline Red
    2016 Dodge Ram 1500 Bighorn Quad Cab 5.7L 4x4 Blue Streak Pearl

  13. #13
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    One of the most recent projects on my Viper was starting to get the outside into shape. The swirl marks were horrible and being a black car it just enhanced the swirling. This was driving me nuts, so I decided one week to buff it. I will add, I am not a professional at paint correction, but I used to detail a lot of cars and I am experienced enough to where I knew I could make it better. I taped off the car in my garage ( I just recently bought the place, so I am still in the process of getting the garage set up) in order to protect the plastics. Using an extreme cutting pad and compound, I went through the entire exterior. It's not perfect, but the paint looks SO much better. Afterwards I treated the plastics / rubber exterior components, waxed the paint and the wheels. I also started cleaning up the engine bay. While doing that, I added a titanium throttle cable clip with the sneaky pete logo carved into it.

    Viper Detail.jpg
    Above: Buffing the car
    Viper post detail.jpg
    Above: Post detail at Kennedy Park in Kenosha, WI
    Viper Post detail rear.jpg
    Above: Post detail, rear view. Lake Michigan in the background
    Viper engine bay.jpg
    Above: Engine bay detailing
    Viper throttle cable clip.jpg
    Above: New throttle cable clip made out of titanium
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  14. #14
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    So far, the biggest improvement (besides the clutch thing) has been getting the tires replaced. No kidding, the rears were over 20 years old! I knew this needed to be done and you could feel the lack of grip in any corner and in any heavier-than-usual acceleration. I have stated in a previous post that the most frequent advice I have seen from fellow Viper owners is "HAVE GOOD TIRES". I ended up ordering a set of 4 Continental ExtremeContact Sport's at the eye-watering cost of $1,422.17. I knew the tires were going to be about that price but it still pained me a bit to hit the order button, but Tire Rack got them delivered in a few days and I got them mounted and balanced shortly after. I can say with complete confidence that every penny I spent on the tires was 100% worth it. The handing was improved significantly, but the acceleration improvement was insane, and the car just felt so much better. I didn't expect the car to get any traction at full throttle in 1st gear; but it grabbed immediately and I was shocked. I feel much more safe driving the car and I am looking forward to being able to do some serious driving this year. I agree with all the other Viper owners who encourage others to dump old tires even if there is tread on them! It makes a huge difference.

    Viper Tires.jpg
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG

  15. #15
    VOA Member
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    ! It’s great to see these recent resurrections! Keep up the great work guys!

  16. #16
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    Austin's Avatar
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    Great thread.
    '01 Sapphire Blue RT/10 with Cognac interior. A few mods and counting.

  17. #17
    Enthusiast GTS Dean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Breck View Post
    A few additional photos from working on the 96
    Spring Maitnence.jpg
    Above: Disassembly for some suspension work
    You need to get on Amazon and order up this bulb seal for the wheel well lips! Trim to length, then use some yellow 3M trim adhesive (contact cement) and spring clamps to close up the ends. It was stupid cheap and fit TIGHT.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    96 GTS. Viper Days Modified Class. Fresh motor 10-2020!

  18. #18
    Keep this going, I love it.

  19. #19
    Enthusiast Breck's Avatar
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    Aside from removing the passenger side door handle trim and repainting it as it was all chipped up, I haven't done much to the Viper this week. I did take it to the first car show of the season, a benefit show for the wounded warrior project, in Gurnee, IL today. Great crowd, many people who appreciated the Viper and it's story.

    Viper WWP Car Show 2021.jpg
    Current Garage: 95' Dodge Viper RT/10 (VIN 1336), 20' Ram 1500 Laramie (Daily), 21' Jeep Wrangler WIlly's (On Order)
    Past Notable Cars: 08' CSRT4, 04' 986 Boxster, 02' C32 AMG


 

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