High-end automakers like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley have sold thousands of cars in China over the past few years, yet the Dodge Viper is not officially available there. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a demand for it, though, and a dealership in Beijing has reportedly started to import gray-market Vipers purchased from a dealership in California.
Driving a rare, powerful American muscle car in China comes at a hefty price. While the Viper carries a base price of $90,000 in the United States, buyers in China have to pony up about $480,000 to get their hands on a brand-new model. Paying Rolls-Royce money for a Viper gets you a bone-stock coupe powered by a hand-built, all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 engine that makes 645 horsepower at 600 foot-pounds of torque. Bolted to a six-speed manual transmission, the ten-cylinder sends the Viper from zero to 60 mph in a little over three seconds.
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Surprisingly, the Viper is fully street-legal in China despite the fact that it has never been type-approved.
The Viper sold in China is identical in every aspect to the model sold in the United States, so what is it that makes it so expensive? Part of it undoubtedly comes down to the sheer novelty of owning a rare car, but the bulk of it is attributed to the Chinese government’s policies on imported cars. Any car shipped in from abroad that has an engine bigger than 4.0-liters is subject to a steep 60 percent tax.
The astronomical price tag isn’t putting off buyers. The owner of the dealership told CarNewsChina that he has sold three Vipers in the past few months, and he predicts that many more will be brought into the country before the end of the year. That is, unless Dodge decides to take matters into its own hands and send a couple of Vipers to the world’s largest new car market.