I was always a bit of a car nut and did saloon car racing, sprints and my biggest passion rallying back in the fifties and sixties. Then life, business and marriage caught up with me and suddenly there was no time and no money and so the only driving was driving around the country doing sales calls. Then one day, out of the blue, I was watching TV and saw my first Viper. Eight litres of beautiful muscle and I fell in love. I still did not have the money but the love was deep and passionate and burning into me.
A few years later I sold my business and retired for the second and final time. Everyone was asking me what are you going to do with all those millions and my reply was always the same. I am going to buy a Dodge Viper. Most of my friends had never heard of the car and I had only seen one on the road, a GTS which I thought was even more beautiful than the RT10, but the problem was how do I find one. Car magazines, Sunday newspaper supplements were scoured but not a car to be seen.
I called Chrysler UK and the Sales Directors P.A. said they did not have any in the UK at that time but gave me the names of two dealers who might be able to help. No success. I called her back and said that I had not been able to locate one and would she please call me if they brought any in or if she heard anything. I had no idea that there was a UK Viper Club or that I could do a personal import and I did not have, or understand, a computer so felt it was ordained that I would be unlucky.
Then just when I was resigning myself to my fate than the P.A. Called me to say that in a few months her bosses GTS would be available if I wanted to wait. Wait certainly, did she want a deposit, no, but she would call me. A very long two months and then the call came and I was driving to Milton Keynes to see and test drive my love. I walk into an aircraft hanger full of Mercs and other stuff and a hundred yards away was a red with silver stripes GTS and I was still in love but now it was lust. I walked to the car, was driven out and drove back and said I will buy. Apparently we had not agreed a price. I did not care, I was in love and I needed and wanted. I got the car but they insisted on delivering. My local bar was the delivery, the White Hart in Cadnam which some of you remember, and I came to life again.
I learned to love her, care for her and to handle a very special being. Justin Bells number 52 GT2 followed and then an RT 10 and then the Daytona 91 replica. Dan Craigin converted it to the full Le Mans spec. Next thing a magazine called and said can we do an interview and by the way we understand that you have four Vipers. Why? Dumb question. There were only four models available. You fall in love, lust,whatever, but the Viper is about passion, lust, love and everything that you can feel. My love for the car is still total.
My worries and concerns for new drivers is lessened as we are now into the pussy days with traction control and safeguards for rich people who cannot drive and wreck their cars. The Director at Chrysler that I bought my first Viper from missed it so much that he imported one from Australia. They did right hand drive conversions there, and the car lasted briefly. Two weeks I think before it was stolen, wrecked and burned out by joy riders. He imported another but it was lent to an agent for a forecourt display at a dealership but sadly got written of on the way home. The next one was damaged by a mechanic taking in for an unofficial test drive after servicing.
I explained to people when they were thinking of buying, or had bought, that this is the lady, girl, woman, that you have fallen in love with and if you want to survive you better be careful! Treat her like the most precious person you ever met and do not push her too far, too soon, or she will slap your face big time, if you are lucky, or write one or both off you into eternity. Feel her, love her and be gentle. The Viper will need you to learn new ways of driving.
When I found the UK Viper Club it was one of those great and lucky moments in my life. I found a great and wonderful group of people that loved, cared and were passionate like me. What followed was a wonderful sequence of events that enriched my life and introduced me to so many great wonderful people, exciting and entertaining times and so much more.
Being a Viper owner was a great moment in my life, finding the club and so many people that I look on as lifetime friends who have enriched my life was a fantastic bonus. The people who run the club now are passionate and really great people. Please love the club, support it and enjoy the things we are and what we do. Every fuel stop was a great moment with everyone wanting to see the car, every Charity Ride was about the biggest queues for rides, everywhere, everyone looked, loved and wanted to be a part or connected or just to see, love and wish. The International club people, VOA, are wonderful people who care as we do. Take the trip and enjoy an even bigger world of likeminded passionate people plus all the extras that go with it.
Being a Viper owner comes with lots of joy, lots of pleasure and lots of responsibilities. Your driving will improve because you have to be able to drive. The pleasure and joy you give to a multitude of adults and young people still give me great memories and hopefully you too. The joy of owning the beast, awesome and above all being part of a brotherhood that I will treasure until my last.
Those of you that remember Rockingham, Silverstone, Goodwood, Le Mans, the barbecues at StJacques, Fancott Arms lunches and a multitude of other great UK events I will always treasure and hopefully a lot of you will too.
Those of you that do not remember those great days please just stay involved and better events will happen. You are part of something really especial. Love your car, enjoy and learn to love the members who have and are making the club the very unique and special organisation that it is.
Having spent a lot of time organising and helping please try to do the same. Go to the USA to see the factory, the VOA events, people, everything really special and always be glad to be part of a very, very special group of people and one of the greatest cars ever made.
I hope that those who shared these special moments will share those times with you but more importantly that you newer members will be the people who carry the banner and take us forward. I offer an incentive. Attend the next US meeting and I will buy you a drink, or more, but more importantly you will find out what Viper Club is about. You have great style and taste, keep the faith and get involved with something that is very unique and special.