My Dream Car

Posted by Eric Grasso on

My Dream CarDodge Viper GTS. Those are the words that I’ve said thousands of times throughout my life. From the day that Road and Track article came to my door as a youngster, and had the review of America’s Monster car, which it happened to be blue (my favorite color) with white stripes, I was hooked. From that moment on, I knew that the Dodge Viper was my dream car. Expensive and rare enough that it would be a huge accomplishment to be able to get one, but not so far out of reach that it would be impossible to get. That made it all the more exciting to know that one day I could potentially own one. It was quite a journey from reading that article to today, but it’s still a feeling of euphoria when thinking back on it.

As mentioned in my post about my first car, I came from a HUGE car family. Everyone in my family was all about building and fixing cars. My older brother was/is a huge GM guy. Growing up he built a handful of Camaro Z28’s, and now owns a pristine Corvette Z06. I’m sure you can imagine his disappointment when I got a Mustang for my first car and then owned a second one after crashing the first! Anyway, as is with most sibling relationships, there is a sense of rivalry/competition that drives each other, and in my case, ours revolved around cars. I’ve always loved Corvette’s, but with that being my brother’s favorite car, I knew I had to dream bigger... In comes Dodge with the Viper GTS and... mind blown.

The Viper had everything someone can ask for. Monster engine, great sound, pretty good handling (all you would need for New Jersey) and of course the dark blue color that I loved. Once the car came out, I wasn’t old enough to drive, but I knew even if I was that I would need to put in a lot of hours in order to be able to get one of those bad boys. So I had to start small and work my way up! After the first mustang, I did have a Dodge Stealth RT/T which was another fun car, but it wasn’t a Viper. I tried my best to keep that car in as great shape as I could, but ultimately wear and tear got to it. I certainly did my part of keeping the car clean, averaging a full wash and wax at least once a week, but was unable to maintain the clutch and ended up having to sell when I couldn’t afford the clutch replacement. I ended up selling to a gentleman from Colorado, as apparently I had a rare black on black on black RT/T that was sought after. Last time I’d make a mistake of letting a car like that go, but that is a story for another time!

After selling the Stealth, I used that money to buy another Mustang. Almost an exact replica (except black this time instead of forest green) of my first Mustang and was able to use a lot of the parts I already had to make her a little faster than she already was. As is the theme with all my cars, regardless of how they moved, my main concern was always keeping it clean. Regardless of what you drive, a clean car and shiny car just adds to the joy that is driving. Plus if your driveway has trees all around it like mine does, it gives you something to do every weekend!

At this point of my car career, I was 3 cars deep and after spending so much to work on the cars I had, was even further away from getting my dream car. Working harder was never a concern of mine, as I’ve been employed since I was 14 years old. I thought to myself that at that point of my life, my best option was to get a second job and start putting that money aside. So while balancing my schooling and my other job, I decided to get a second bartending/serving job and put all that income into the VDC Fund as I called it, which was short for “Viper Dream Car” Fund. This worked out well until my days at college were over, and it was time to focus on starting a career that would take all my time.

I got into a role with HR, specifically Talent Acquisition, and have been in that line of work since. Through hard work, I’ve been able to progress my career which ultimately gives me the opportunity to finally accomplish a dream that I’ve been after for more than two decades. June 9th, 2017 is a day that I will always remember because that is the day I finally got my dream car. Sure, there were some things along the way that stalled the purchase, like my wedding for example. And I mean that from a financial standpoint, not because my loving wife wouldn’t let me get the car and it took some serious convincing or anything like that ;).

The process of finding the right Viper, well that was a whole other issue in itself. There isn’t a very high quantity of them available, so traveling for it I knew would be the only way to get one. Especially considering how I wanted such a specific color. Now within my price range, I could only really afford the Generation 1 through Generation 3 or 4 models. I looked at a few Generation 1 GTS models, but they all seemed to be a little more beat up, obviously “older” looking and from a mechanical perspective, always had more issues than the newer generation models. Now, this presented me a serious moral thicket. Do I go with the Viper GTS, which, after all, has been my dream car? Or do I go with the 03-09 models that overall are better cars, but go by the SRT-10 title?

Well the research continued, the test drives continued, and I was still stuck. I started narrowing down cars by seeing what kind of work they’ve had done, how many previous owners they’ve had, and what records past dealerships had on the cars. From this research, it appeared most of the earlier Generation models all seemed to have some serious work done to them, or were on the verge of needing some serious work done to them. This started to lean me towards the decision that I should be looking at the newer models. This was tough, as mentioned because I always wanted to GTS model. From the time that magazine came to my house as a kid, I surrounded myself with toy models of the GTS and plastered my walls with posters of the car. But ultimately, I felt as long as it’s a blue Viper that was clean and had the stripes, it was exciting enough!

It was at this time when I started focusing my search on ones within the 03-08 model year range. They still had commemorative Vipers that were painted in the GTS style blue with light stripes and they had the benefits of the newer model. For a slight price difference, I felt it was a no brainer once I got past the whole moral dilemma! I started looking into different classifieds, websites, forums and anything else I could get my hands on to find a blue one that was in good shape. I narrowed down my search and found one in Dallas, Texas that seemed to hit all the right stats. A little higher on the miles that I was hoping for, but overall everything looked and sounded good on it. At least based off the videos and pictures sent, then by me taking the time to call the dealerships/service departments located on the Car Fax report. Although a lot of the dealerships didn’t have the exact info stated, most of it checked out.

While planning to take the day off work, fly down to Dallas and check out the car, I get the phone call. The car was just sold. Months of due diligence down the drain, and years of waiting and thinking the anticipation would come to an end, just got extended that much longer. I called around the other “finalists” but sure enough, those blue Vipers were off the market as well. It was at this point I realized I’m going to need to be more aggressive if I want to get the car.

The search started over, and I did my due diligence, and sure enough found another one. This one was right outside Chicago, had fewer miles, and was about the same price! So after losing out the one in Dallas, it seemed as if this one was even better. The final kicker was after speaking to the dealership in Texas (car was originally from Texas before being traded to the dealership outside of Chicago) the Viper tech who serviced the car said it was one of the best-kept Vipers that he’s ever worked on. The owner took meticulous care of it, washed it regularly, did some minor aftermarket work to it (intake/exhaust) but most importantly, treated the car like his child. With a car like that, you can’t really ask for any better news on its past owner. The Viper tech even went one level above that and said he was going to purchase the car, but decided that he was going to get one of the new Charger Demon’s when they come out. Can’t say I blame him.

That was another thought that entered my mind. Do I just get a new hell cat, wait for the Demon, or make my brother happy and get a Corvette? That idea was a lot easier to squash, as, at the end of the day, none of them were Vipers. With the decision in hand, I knew I had to not make another mistake and let one slip through my hands. I called the dealership, put down a deposit, and started figuring out my game plan for getting the car and getting it home.

Next big decision, get the car towed, or drive it home? Chicago to my home in Jersey was an 11-hour drive. Not the shortest trip, also not the longest. I felt it could be an awesome road trip, and a perfect way to bond with the car. Decision number two, when do I go, and how long do I stay? I’ve never been to Chicago, so wanted to at least spend the day there to see what I could and of course, try the pizza. Being raised on NY style pizza, I can tell you this gave it a serious run for its money! But back to the car. I booked my one-way flight for June 9th, took off from work and bought tickets to see the Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley. Can’t go to Chicago for the first time and not see Wrigley Field. Next step, booked a hotel room and then finally find a Dodge dealer close to the used car dealership to change the oil and do a full inspection before driving her halfway across the country.

This left one last decision. To buy the car, or book a flight home and start the search over again. Well, as this whole story basically gives away, I bought the car. A friend and I flew in early, checked the car out, took it for a ride and I was hooked. I’ve test driven a few Vipers previous to this one, but this one just felt like it was mine. The car was clean, had a nice clear paint protection film already installed, and showed obvious signs of being cared for and cleaned on a regular basis. Now after the exchange was made and the keys were mine, we dropped the Viper off at the Dodge dealer and had our day in Chicago. The next morning when the dealership opened, we grabbed the car and started the journey home.

The trip had started and we had eleven hours to go. I figured we would stop every two or three hours which would give us time to grab a bite to eat, outside the car of course. Sure enough, about eleven hours later, we were home. We had a bit of a scare with my driveway, as there is a big peak at the top, but luckily the car squeaked right by without scraping, but not by much. This makes for a fun game as I have to pull the car out onto the street before my wife or any passenger is able to get in when we take the car for a spin. But never the less, the car was home. A 2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 in the GTS Viper Blue with white/silver stripes. The car is an absolute beauty and was that and more than I could have ever imagined.

For so long I’ve been talking about my dream car, and always uttered those words, Dodge Viper GTS, but now for the first time since I read that magazine article, I can say my dream car is my car. The feeling at first was surreal, and now two months later, it still is a feeling of accomplishment, joy, and pride all tied into one knowing the car is in my garage. I try to take the car out as often as I can, whether it’s driving it to work or just going for a joy ride, but regardless of where I take it, the car is as clean as it could be. Just like my previous cars, I wash my car about once a week, but only this time I have my Show Finish detailing products to get the job done right.

This was the story of my dream car, and I was lucky enough to be able to accomplish that dream and drive off the lot with one. It’s a day I’ll never forget, and hopefully, you all enjoyed hearing about it. We’d love to hear any similar adventures or stories that you have encountered, or even just a short comment on what your dream car is!

Thanks for reading,
Eric

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