1996 Chrysler Viper GTS-R
Driven in the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans for Viper Team Oreca by Justin Bell, John Morton, and Pierre Yver
To be offered on Friday, 9 June 2023
Guide Price: 600,000 - 700,000 EUR
Guide Price: 600,000 - 700,000 EUR
- Among the first Works chassis constructed at Chrysler's engineering facility in Detroit
- Driven in the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans for Viper Team Oreca by Justin Bell, John Morton, and Pierre Yver
- Successfully campaigned throughout Europe and the North America since 1998
- Finished in its Viper Team Oreca livery as worn in 1997
Developed in late-1988 at Chrysler's Advanced Design Studios, the Dodge Viper was first revealed to the public in concept form at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in 1989. Unashamedly taking inspiration from Carroll Shelby's muscular Cobra Daytona, the Viper would exist on both road and racetrack; Chrysler approved a racing programme in 1995. Based heavily on its road-going counterpart, the Chrysler Viper GTS-R was created by a select team of Chrysler factory engineers, working alongside expert Anglo-American suppliers including Caldwell Development, J&P Motorsport, Reynard Motorsport, Riley & Scott, and Roush Industries.
The first seven cars were constructed at Chrysler's facility in Detroit, while the chassis numbered C8, C9 and C10 were delivered as rolling shells for completion at Oreca in France. From 1998, cars were assembled and race prepared entirely at Oreca; Reynard fabricated each chassis in the UK and Chrysler shipped the remaining components from America. In total, 57 examples were built between 1996 and 2005. Four GTS-R cars were entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1996, with three finishing the race, the highest placed 10th overall. Viper GTS-Rs would go on to take three category victories at Le Mans, with further wins at the Nürburgring and 24 Hours of Spa.
This Chrysler Viper GTS-R, chassis GTSR C3, was built at Chrysler's Featherstone Road Engineering Center, and is understood to incorporate several mechanical upgrades developed for the 1997 cars. Chassis GTSR C3 made its racing debut at the 1997 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with Viper Team Oreca. Finished in a white and blue livery and wearing the race number “94”, it was driven to 15th place overall by the driver roster of Olivier Beretta, Tommy Archer and Dominique Dupuy. Its next appearance was at the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans with Viper Team Oreca; here it was raced in the GT2 class as number “63”, with driving duties shared between Justin Bell, John Morton, and Pierre Yver. Qualifying in 38th place, the team battled to 14th overall as the only Works entry to finish the race.
Prior to the start of the 1998 season, the car was sold by the Works team. That same year, it would be campaigned in the British GT Championship by privateer outfit Orion Motorsport, driven by Kurt Luby, Richard Dean, Julian Westwood, and Michael Vergers. The duo of Luby and Dean would take the GT2 class championship that season, beginning in chassis GTSR C3 and finishing in the C6 sister car. The following year, this Viper GTS-R was successfully raced by Chamberlain Motorsport in the Spanish GT Championship, winning the first event, before arriving in the United States in the early-2000s, where it contested races at the 200 Miles of Phoenix on 21 April 2001 and the 250 Miles of Mid-Ohio on 10 June.
Later returning to Europe, the Viper made appearances at the Britcar 24 Hour at Silverstone in 2008, the 2013 Le Mans Classic, and was more recently campaigned in Peter Auto historic events by Pierre Alain France and Erwin France. Now returned to its 1997 Works Viper Team Oreca livery, in February 2023 the car appeared as part of the Le Mans Centenary display at Rétromobile in Paris. At the time of sending the catalogue to print, the Viper was in the process of receiving a replacement engine—please contact an RM Sotheby’s Car Specialist for details.
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