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Dodge Viper Shelby GTS/CS Is the Only Prototype, Comes With Carroll’s Blessings
Although the nameplate has been out of production for over three years, the Viper is still revered as one of the greatest modern American sports cars, with some people going as far as calling it a downright supercar.

Dodge Viper Shelby GTS/CS Is the Only Prototype, Comes With Carroll’s Blessings

1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS
Shaped like the head of a venomous snake, hand-built in the good old U.S. of A. and almost as tricky to manhandle as a real serpent, the Dodge Viper came and went like a shooting star across the automotive landscape.

Despite its controversial scene exit, which happened mostly due to the lack of sales, the V10-powered sports car is still regarded as a trendsetter.

The original model was initially engineered to represent a modern interpretation of the legendary Shelby Cobra, even though the Cobra was related to Ford rather than Mopar back in the day.

With its design closely related to a 1989 concept car, the first generation of the Viper was the rawest of them all, with almost no electronic driving or comfort aids whatsoever and a Lamborghini-tuned engine.

It eventually got stuff like air conditioning, ABS, and even electronic stability control over the years, but the Viper was always an homage to the original Cobra in its purity.

That said, a real Shelby connection only materialized a lot later, in 1997, when Carroll Shelby himself got involved in the creation of a limited Viper version touched by the same magic hands that originally oversaw the Cobra.

Meet the 1997 Dodge Viper GTS/CS, created by none other than Carroll Shelby and hid friend Dan Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Motorsports, and the only model of its kind ever produced.

The car was supposed to be part of a 50-unit production run (25 GTS coupes and 25 RT/10 roadsters), but production stopped after Carroll was hospitalized for a kidney transplant in 1996.

Only 18 Viper RT/10 roadsters had been built, while the GTS coupe in Shelby Street Competition guise in the adjacent photo gallery is the only one that was ever completed.

The limited production run was dedicated to the Shelby Heart fund, as Carroll had battled heart problems for almost his entire life.

As for the visual cues distinguishing the prototype from its ‘lesser’ GTS counterparts, the only Shelby-tuned Viper coupe is not exactly subtle, but it doesn’t go out of its way to be too ostentatious either.

The Viper Red-painted sports car comes with an open front grille for better cooling, custom front fender strakes, and dual longitudinal ‘Le Mans’ stripes in gold, thus matching the 18-inch modular Gold-spoked alloy wheels with CS-stamped center caps.

Shelby’s distinctive signature not only adorns each front fender, accompanying a commemorative badge, but also the seats' headrests. The color matching red leather interior was custom created for the model and is probably a bit loud for modern tastes, but when has a Shelby ever been quiet?

On the technical side, the Viper GTS/CS didn’t receive any massive horsepower-inducing upgrades, but it did get a modified intake and exhaust, a revamped ECU, and high-performance plug wires.

A modified 3.73:1 rear axle ratio was used instead of the stock 3.07:1 unit, so the car is definitely much sportier than your average 1997 Viper GTS, which was no slouch either.

The stock naturally aspirated 8.0-liter V10 was good for 450 horsepower and around 500 lb-ft (680 Nm) of torque, more than enough to go dangerously sideways whenever you push the loud pedal too much.

It’s not the power or the looks that make the Viper GTS/CS special, though, but its rarity and pedigree, being the first and last model that was ever blessed by Carroll Shelby during the Viper’s lineage. It even comes with a signed letter of authenticity.

Believe it or not, this fine specimen of muscle sports car has had a single owner over its 23-year existence and was offered for sale for the first time ever at Mecum's 2021 Kissimmee auction. Whoever bought it knows that they’ll not only own the rarest Viper ever but a paramount piece of automotive history.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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