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This is a rehash of my adventure that took place in May 2013.  Hope you enjoy the story.

When the 5th generation Viper was unveiled live in April 2012, I knew at that very moment what desire for a vehicle felt like. I’d seen many other cool cars, but nothing grabbed me like that day when Ralph Gilles showed up on the stage with a Stryker Red 2013 Viper. I began plotting my purchase a few minutes after that showing.

I placed my order on November 12, 2012 with Bernie Katz at Tomball Dodge. At the time, they were predicting the first cars would show up before March.  I really just wanted the car before the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, which wasn’t until June 1st. This would be my 9th “Long-Haul” Power Tour Trip, and I’ve done it in a different vehicle each year.

Fast forward through all the reported delays, and checking the vehicle online tracking site (VOTS) a couple times per day, hoping to get a glimpse of some sort of progress on the build of my Viper. Talk about anxiety, as June quickly approached. My deadline for the event was near, all of a sudden.

Then, one day it happened, I saw my car go into “D1” Scheduled for Production Status. Then it sat in that phase for over a month. Here is how the rest of the updates played out:

Frame Status began 5/3
Trim Status began 5/7
Final Inspection began 5/16
Shipment 5/21

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With the event less than 10 days away, I didn’t want to wait all this time just to get held up by possible delays related to a truck transport. So, I made special arrangements through my dealership and Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (CAAP) to take possession of the Viper at the factory in Detroit, MI. My plan was to fly up to Detroit, pick the Viper up, and drive it almost 1,500 miles back to Houston, TX.

And, that is just what I did on that Memorial Day weekend!

My adventure began on a rainy Thursday morning at CAAP, and I brought a local Detroit friend with me to check the factory out. We were greeted by Jen, and introduced to Graham and Doug. We went into their welcome center room, watched some nice videos about the new Viper, learned the shop safety rules, and then stepped out into the arena of magic.

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I’ve toured quite a few vehicle manufacturing plants in my life, just recently I’ve been at Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Corvette plants, so I did have a little expectation of what I’d see. One thing that set this Viper plant apart was all the historic Vipers parked inside the plant, as if they were keeping an eye on the younger generations being built. You could feel a great sense of pride among the employees, who were happy to waive and answer any questions. We were allowed to take photos to share with you, so we took a LOT of them. We walked the assembly line, getting a good look at each station and what was done. It was exciting to see so many Vipers in all of their colors and trim configurations, as I’d only seen the Launch Edition and Red Track package cars in person before that. The CAAP plant was spotless, even the tool carts and floor had a new coat of paint on them. Endless walls of Viper photos, posters, memorabilia, and American flags were present. Good stuff.

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Eventually the tour led to a long row of historic Vipers, and one car under a hidden drape. I didn’t realize that the car under the cover was my own car. What a cool presentation! My friend Ken and I got the cameras ready, while Doug and Graham pulled that drape off of my white SRT Viper track pack. It was the first white Viper I’d seen in person, and I knew in an instant that I had made the right color choice. I must have stared at the car a good 5 minutes, from every angle, before Graham reminded me that I could approach it and sit in my car. Awesome. I will never forget this day. Thanks to everyone at CAAP and Tomball Dodge, for making that dream come true!

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After a little education on all the fancy electronics found in this car, I hit the road to go grab some grub in Detroit with a couple local buddies. It was a car-themed restaurant, called Vinsetta Garage, located on the historic cruise street, Woodward Avenue. I gave the guys some rides up and down Woodward, and we took some nice rolling photos and such. The car commands instant rockstar status, even on hallowed hotrod ground.

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I set the navigation for Dayton, OH and got my first leg of the trip in a deluge. The entire time, I wondered if the “Track Pack” Pirelli PZero Corsa tires would be safe in the heavy rain. The answer is yes! Never hydroplaned once, and I grew more confident as the odometer rolled up.

Friday morning, I decided to drop by Forgeline Wheels and visit their manufacturing facility. I’m a distributor for Forgeline, through my wheel business Deviate Motoring (www.DV8motoring.com), and I knew these guys were waiting to get some measurements for wheel fitments. David and Mark gave me a tour of the plant, and we took some brake and offset measurements. We also test-fitted a few different wheels on the car. Hung out a bit, then hit the highway again Southbound.

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It was a beautiful day of weather on that Friday, with mostly open highways. Onward through Nashville, TN, and then finally to Memphis, TN. I really enjoy stopping in Memphis, because of Beale Street. Arguably the best live music street around, if you like jazz, blues, or country. I parked the Viper in a secure lot, fighting off some eager valet parking drivers, then enjoyed some adult beverages and music for the night.

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On Saturday, I drove through Kentucky, and took a rest stop at a popular automotive landmark in Bowling Green – The National Corvette Museum. I knew my GM buddies would get a laugh at some photos of my Viper in front of the Corvette Mecca. I took a tour, bought a souvenir, and did a quick photo-shoot out front. I got some interesting looks from a few people visiting while wearing their Corvette apparel. The security guy riding the golf cart on the property also had a confused look on his face. These pics are priceless though, and add to the memory!

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After my visit with the competition, I set the navigation for Houston, TX with a path through Arkansas and Texarkana, TX. Another nice day of weather, and I had enough miles on the car to open it up a few times on those 75 mph speed zones in Texas. The car is flat out impressive! This new Viper still feels very fast for a stock vehicle.

I finally made it back home on Saturday evening, just in time for dinner. The odometer rolled 1,450 miles upon arrival. I averaged 17.5 mpg for the whole trip, cruising mostly 80-85 mph. The car averages 20 mpg when cruising 70-75. Pretty impressive for a 640hp rated V10.  It was a great trip, and I’d suggest anyone that purchases a vehicle from out of state do their own road trips home.  One way plane tickets are cheap, and the memories are priceless.

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