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  1. #1

    An Injured Snake Made It s Way to My Garage This Weekend

    Viper Owners Association - The Price of Admission

    I'm pretty sure I can recall the first time I had to pick my jaw off the floor of the backseat of my mother's car the first time I saw a Dodge Viper. Ever since that day I've always been eyeing them up much like a young boy noticing a fine older lady; they don't know why they like it or what they would do with it, but they sure want to touch it.

    I'm pretty cheap by nature so getting actually getting one of these cars would be difficult, especially these days. And at this point in my life when it comes to things with motors if I haven't spent time fixing it then I don't really own it. Combined - these two things have me pretty much limited to a wreck vehicle which the thought of always had me a bit wary as you never really know what you're going to get. The insurance company totaled it... not because they pulled a note out of a hat that says "totaled" but because they know the actual repair cost; even if it is just a fuck ton of body work. That is until a few weeks ago when I found a viper for sale with the engine pulled out of it, in pieces, body panels strewn around, a clean title, etc.... it was beautiful. Most importantly it was in my price range, was going to be a track car, and seemed to come with a lot of the parts. It was perfect. I spent a few hours doing some calculations, talked to the owner and tried to figure out what was missing, drove out there, checked it out, was told there was a lot of parts for it (at this point I'll admit I didn't realize exactly how many parts this car has...) and put a deposit down.

    Cue this past weekend I went out to pick up the car. When I got there the pile of parts was suspiciously small; there was nothing from the A/C, power steering, or really anything... Given the effort I'd put into this thing already I picked it up. Anyways, here are some pictures to keep your attention

    Car loaded on trailer

    Wife saving my life by managing the E-brake so I don't get run over pulling the car off the trailer (she looks much more feminine in person, I swear)

    Finally in the garage

    And this picture - this will infamously be known as the hole in the bank.

    At this point I am sure you can see that this will be a long project and I'll likely be posting questions that have probably been answered before (but I'll have pictures, so that should be okay), or maybe begging for parts. Ultimately my goal is to show this poor car the respect it deserves and restore it to it's former glory and bring it back to the street.

    To be continued...
    Last edited by sailnaked; 11-16-2021 at 10:42 AM.

  2. #2
    Enthusiast Fatboy 18's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    South of London, Surrey
    Awesome, good for you taking on the project. Kees Mets in the Dutch Viper club EU has taken these cars down to the chassis and rebuilt wrecked ones. looking forward to seeing Updates. Some parts will likely be hard to come by, but with club knowledge, folks may be able to guide you to the right place.
    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Enthusiast SA Heat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Bulverde, Texas
    What Fatboy said. Great to see someone take on a big project like this.

    On a side note, the first photo with the supercars complete with dumped trash on the side of the road looks strange.
    2009 Viper Red ACR w/stripe delete & black/red interior (1 of 1)
    1997 b/w GTS....sold
    2005 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII, not stock

  4. #4
    Regional Membership Director
    VOA Mamba Member
    since 2013
    Steve-Indy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    You might want to put Brian Jones into your contact list. Brian owns/operates Jones Auto Inc. located in Orleans, IN. Brian parts out Vipers and generally has quite an inventory. More importantly, Brian has rebuilt Vipers...and knows all of the "ins and outs" of same. Best of luck with your project!!
    I don't send or receive "PM's" since I prefer DIRECT communication.

  5. #5
    Thanks guys, the project is pretty exciting and I enjoy bringing things back to life. Anyways, I think the trash was from re-modeling? Previous owner was a pretty cool dude. And I think Brian Jones is going to be able to retire off me. I've probably dropped about 2k in parts from him and have quite a bit more. Frankly the whole process of him taking parts off a Viper and sending them to me seems inefficient, if he could just cut one in half and send me the front it'd probably be less time consuming for the both of us.

    Both blocks are torn apart (I'll have some pictures later) so taking it easy and working on some of the lower hanging fruit for the project such as cleaning, making parts presentable or putting some things back where they're supposed to be.
    Windshield header popped off - is there a trick to getting this in?

  6. #6
    Enthusiast SA Heat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Bulverde, Texas
    Try a flat plastic tool (like something from a push pin puller kit) and slide the edge into the groove on the windshield side? Probably will have to do two sides?
    Last edited by SA Heat; 11-16-2021 at 02:10 PM.
    2009 Viper Red ACR w/stripe delete & black/red interior (1 of 1)
    1997 b/w GTS....sold
    2005 Mitsubishi Evolution VIII, not stock

  7. #7
    Enthusiast RedTanRT/10's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Dana Point
    Good luck, hope it came with headlights as their getting pretty pricey!!
    1994 Red/Tan RT/10, '99 red ACR- sold, '06 Red/Silver Coupe-RIP, '06 Red/Silver Coupe - Sold, '08 Red/Silver ACR-C sold, 2006 Comp Coupe C-92

  8. #8
    Very cool project, always jealous of you guys with that amount of mechanical skills .....

  9. #9
    Fixing it to a factory spec will get very pricey.

    I'd probably strip it down and just run the skeleton. Spend $2000 on headlights? Nah, I'd rather hang two giant turbos on it.

    I'm here for the show though. I love a good restoration. Working on one myself.
    1997 Dodge Viper GTS || Matte Bentley Silver | 60k miles || My 97 GTS - Update Thread

    2005 Chevrolet Cobalt SS || 2002 Audi TT Quattro || 1986 Volkswagen GTI

  10. #10
    Enthusiast 98intrigue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Clearwater, FL
    This should be fun. Where in FL are you?
    Ryan - 14 Stryker Green Nth Moto TT/Heads/Cam
    Past - 14 Stryker Green VE Stage II Heads/Cam, '16 ACR-E, '14 Anodized Carbon, '14 TA, Orange '03 Paxton vert w/coupe rear, Black '06 coupe w/SSG accents

  11. #11
    It actually came with 3 headlights! It's like winning the lottery, even though one's a little chipped... If I'm lucky I'll be able to get an A/C condenser out of it haha

    @98intrigue looks like I'm not too far from you... I'm out in Brandon, just north of Riverview. If you're good with an impactor and have mopar nuts and bolts you're more than welcome to come out once this project starts to get rolling

  12. #12
    Been working on a few things - mostly tearing apart and cleaning or ordering new parts but have a few pictures to post.

    In the meantime anyone know of a good engine shop in Florida? Might need some honing work done and the only place I can find with a torque plate (Fountain Racing Engines) isn't taking orders for 2 months.

  13. #13
    Tech Team

    Supporting Vendor
    Viper Specialty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Cape Coral, FL
    Nice project, glad someone will get it back together!

    Just FYI, I am currently in Cape Coral, which is not "all" that far if need be. Resources are currently limited, but hey... never know.

    I probably know a thing or two about Vipers. LOL
    Dan Lesser
    Viper Specialty Performance
    (716) 912-5336

    VOA Tech Team


  14. #14
    Enthusiast StrokerAce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Central Florida
    Lakeland guy here. I almost took a job in Brandon. lol

    Cool car and hope you can get rolling on it. I am not horrible with a wrench but I am leary of working on other people's cars but could always hand you a 12 ouncer during a break. Hahah
    2013 GTS
    2018 RAM 1500 4x4
    1999 Camaro SS

  15. #15
    The Hibernating Snake - Stuck in it's Hole

    Wow, 3 weeks since my original post. Time has flown and...sort of stood still. The car seems to have had far more hours put into it so far than your average '3 weeks work of moonlight mechanic' work. On the other hand you might not know that from the sparse updates here. I may have been called a tease once or twice in my these two probably aren't related... Unfortunately the updates do take a lot of time and I have a bad habit of drinking too much coffee, starting some project, and never being able to leave so it's safe to say progress has reached a stand still on somewhere. More on this to follow.

    First we'll start with the engine since that's one of everyone's favorite parts...probably because there are shiny things and it tickles the butt dyno.

    The old engine -
    Most parts of the old engine were in good shape except for 1 rod which tried to leave the block. The piston has slight scoring and thankfully it looks like it barely nicked the head which should polish out pretty easily. Haven't checked the 2 valves in that area but from cursory glances they didn't seem bent. Good news the crank looks like it can be salvaged, but it'll need to be checked for cracks.
    Threw in a few more pictures of the bad engine before it was disassembled because that's all we're really here for anyways. Note here that it's either the 1st or 2nd or the 9th or 10th rod that blew up. Strange. Cause of death - wrist pin frozen in piston.

    The 'good' bottom end -
    As I mentioned the car was purchased with a good bottom end - my understanding was that it was just a cleaning away from ready to go but, you know, proper cleaning means disassembly. Disassembly means taking it to the machine shop for measurement verification...and sometimes disassembly means surprise! Like a midget stripper out of a birthday cake at a children's party there it is screaming surprise - the number 3 rod bearing appears to have...disappeared. Engine must have been making one hell of a noise prior to it's retirement. Naturally the cylinder is a little scored in that bore as well. Plus side is even if the crank from this engine looks like shit the other crank looks good and I've got 18 pistons and rods to choose from to put this thing back together, hopefully.

    Where it's at now the good block has been taken to the machine shop, United Speed of Tampa, to be cleaned, have measurements taken and (hopefully) a sleeve installed in that cylinder. Luckily I was able to source a sleeve manufactured by Darton (who only sells through Racing Development Engines in California) and it's made to use a .001 clearance fit which hopefully won't distort the #1 and #5 cylinders so much that honing a few tenths won't straighten out. Either way there's a few tenths given to out of round too but hopefully those won't be needed. Naturally most people will ask "why not bore and hone, then it's basically a new block?!" Well to be honest 10 bores, 10 hones, 10 pistons and 10 rods gets pretty pricey. If this was a 4 cylinder it would make sense but for 10 cylinders we're looking at $2500~3k for the rods and pistons where the sleeve was $170 shipped. Secondly the car won't see a track (at least while I own it - more on this later) and will only be subject to occasional street use when it's not being driven slow as hell at 5 mph under the speed limit. In saying that if the other bores are pretty close to max tolerance prior to honing then I'm fucked and will have to drop the money for pistons/rods anyways which wouldn't be surprising given the destruction to the #3 rod bearing.

    At this point I've got a few questions for the Viper crowd here.... I was talking to one machine shop (not United Speed) who sponsors a pair of Vipers that race in Europe and the owner mentioned that the heads occasionally have a problem with valve seats dropping and recommended having the heads machined and new seats re-installed. Any idea if this is a common failure mode for engines or if it's just something limited to engines making high hp? Secondly he also mentioned that there are two lengths of piston rods for the Gen 3? Like the 03 was made with one set and then bore/stroke changed slightly for the 05? Maybe I misunderstood what he said but if anyone can shed any light on this that would be awesome. I just want to verify that I didn't accidentally give my machine shop 9 rods with one length and 9 rods with the other. Naturally this can be verified really easily once it's assembled but you'd hate to have to tear down an engine because you found out your rods were different lengths. Lastly when rebuilding one of these is there anything special that should be done that the manual doesn't state to do? I.e. crank oiling mod?

  16. #16
    A Snake Shedding it's Skin

    Decided to break this up into 2 parts to try to keep things a little more organized - one post with engine information the other more body related.

    In one of the first posts you'll remember there was some trouble with the upper windshield gasket and someone mentioned using a plastic trim piece which worked great.

    Around this time the first batch of the new parts started showing up. Not shown is the power steering rack, oil cooler, clutch slave cylinder, or about a thousand other pieces that have shown up in the meantime. Secondly one of the hardest parts about working on this build is not that the parts aren't there - but the bolts aren't either. Just because your parts show up it doesn't actually mean you can install them. Installing them is actually going to require placing an order from Fastenal. By the way for anyone looking for bolts that are sold by the piece check out Fastenal - they've got the best prices on bolts and you won't have to buy 50 of them when you only need one.

    Anyways moving on... Progress has been divided into 3 main things; figuring out what can be done while waiting on parts and bolts to arrive, attempting to find those parts and bolts on the internet, or actually getting to install stuff. Actually installing stuff has probably taken about 4 hours. While I wait on parts I'm working on cleaning it up and/or doing some necessary repairs. Here's some picture - or the important stuff.

    Along the way there have been several moments that have made me go "uh oh". First was the passenger roll bar requiring a 3 lb mallet to remove. This is the second of those moments - Oh well, can't stop cleaning. - Sub box was removed from the rear and cleaned. The sub was damaged so it was removed and replaced. Turns out Kicker's CompRT 6.75" will drop in with only very slight modifications to the sub box and it should work with the factory amp. The shoulder speakers were also replaced with Kicker's 47KSC2704 which are mid-range 2-3/4" speakers and only required a little modification to fit as well. Pretty much wraps it up for interior cleaning at this point. Luckily it's a small interior

    Here's where we start circling back around to some of the 'real' problems... Remember earlier I mentioned some things that make you go "uh oh" well, here's a one of those moments - There's some strange shit missing. For example the hood latch bracket is gone, the headlight bracket's are missing (found these as aftermarket parts), the headlamp support brackets, and the ABS bracket that are welded to the frame are missing. Strange shit to be missing. At this point it's nearly a guarantee the car was in an accident and sold as a parts car. Shit. Somehow the title looks clean, is the clean title color, and mentions nothing of a rebuild or salvage. Idk. Carbon fiber repair process began around this point as well as you can tell. Lots more cracks to tend to but I'll try to show a little more of the repair process if there's much interest.

    More new parts - - behold, an un-cracked dash basically ready to slide in. Waiting on the passenger airbag to be able to install this though... Unfortunately the process for a passenger airbag installation is "remove dash, remove 4 speakers, re-install dash" so putting this in now is getting a little ahead of myself. Also, regarding airbags, no joke I have purchased both the driver and passenger airbag for the car and it's only set me back $375. Mic drop.

    This leads to today. Behold THE MOST obstinate CV joint I've ever encountered and I've seen like 3. Just kidding. but this fucker is stuck and it's probable at this point the circlip partially popped out of the groove and is preventing the CV from being pulled off. Went to town with a pry bar, a 3lb mallet on the back of the CV, a 5 lb slide hammer pinching from the internal portion of the CV joint, and then the CV joint extractor tool on the 5 lb slide hammer. A friend's coming over to help with this shortly - going to try the pry bar and slide hammer. If this doesn't work it'll be time to bring out the grinder and get to the circlip that way.

    This wraps up another 2~3 weeks of adventure
    Last edited by sailnaked; 12-12-2021 at 03:54 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Western PA

    Well, all I can say is wow! I am impressed you are taking this all on. It would definitely be a fun project. At least the Viper, especially the Gen 3 and older are so easy to work on. Of course, that is sans the engine. It might be easy too, but I am an amateur mechanic at best. It should be a sweet ride when you are done. I like the red interior!

    Keep up the good work!
    Last edited by jpmst3; 12-12-2021 at 07:44 PM.

  18. #18
    Jealous of your skills , I love Cars and fixing things up but lack the mechanical ability

    Hopefully you come out ahead after its all completed
    Last edited by 1Willy1; 12-12-2021 at 04:41 PM.

  19. #19
    Thanks guys!

    Hands down the biggest impact regarding whether or not I will come out ahead on this project is if the title 'really' is clean. If the title's clean I'll come out ahead on the project, if it's not, could be even. Beginning of the project I targeted about 20k in parts to put this back together so silver lining is that's on track!

    On the other hand the CV joint is officially stuck. Friend and I hit it with a pry bar and slide hammer and it didn't budge so the circlip is probably in the way. Now moving to persuasion level 2 - queue the grinder. In theory the spot above the circlip should be the thinnest so I'll try to target that spot. If that target is hit the CV should separate before I've had a chance to hit the splines of the differential stub shaft with the grinder. As always if this or anything sounds a little sketchy feel free to let me know.

    There is another option to turn the car sideways and hook up a come along or a winch to it but there's a ton of parts and shit in the way however if someone who's dealt with obstinate CV joints before chimes in that this is preferred to grinding I'll go this route
    Last edited by sailnaked; 12-12-2021 at 08:13 PM.

  20. #20
    Enthusiast njsteve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016

    I love your wife's expression: That's the "Mine, Mine, Mine, ALL MINE look."

    She's a keeper, dude!

  21. #21
    haha, thanks! She was really excited to bring it home...and if she gets that attitude towards the car I don't know whether to be proud or sad that I won't get to drive it as much...but at least she'd never ask me to sell it!

    Got another question for you guys. My CV is stuck on the stub shaft and after talking to some people it sounded easier to drop the differential, remove the snap ring on the stub shaft, and pull the stub shaft out with the CV. So, before anything ha, I just want to verify that this is the snap ring that gets removed. The image is getting inserted upside but it shows the snap ring pretty well

    Secondly once this comes off...any tips for getting it back on? Seems like space in there's a premium

    Last edited by sailnaked; 12-14-2021 at 07:29 PM.



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