The (one time) fastest truck in the world
(Editor’s note: Andy Stonehouse is still trapped in a snow drift in South Park. In the meantime, we offer a second glimpse at what was, in his humble opinion, the most ridiculous vehicle he ever drove.)
For those of us too young (or too square) to have experienced the true muscle car days ” tire-burning power on the drag strip, old school machines with blowers, street slicks and nitro booster kits ” the Viper-powered fast track to a testosterone-centered automotive life is available. Better yet, it’s a truck, so you can still haul trash to the dump or enjoy some awesome tailgating parties, or easily travel double the Dotsero-to-Avon interstate speed limit. Welcome to the slightly unbelievable world of the 2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10.
The stats alone on the SRT-10 speak volumes on the truck’s overwhelming impracticality. Under the hood, the truck features the same 500 horsepower 8.3 liter V-10 found in the new Viper; 22-inch aluminum wheels ride on Z-rated Pirelli tires; a six-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter; a fire-engine red paint job and, yes, a rear spoiler.
The SRT-10 (the acronym stands for Street and Racing Technology) is verifiably the fastest production truck ever built. An off-the-showroom model consistently exceeded 150 mph during track tests in 2004 and even you will be able to turn in 0-60 times under five seconds, despite the truck’s hefty 5,150 pound curb weight.
That tractor engine-sized Viper big block under the hood produces a hell of a lot of power and more torque than a school bus; the whole package costs just under half of what a Viper does, so that’s a positive ” and if you want to haul even more passengers, a crew cab version is available. Yikes.
One quickly discovers that as is the case in all matters of extreme ownership ” pit bulls, machine guns or a home brewing operation ” the secret to life with a bright-red, Viper-powered pickup is self-control. Every tuned Honda at every stoplight is a potential pink slip victim and every stretch of open road calls up the need for speed, so self-restraint is tantamount to survival, much less avoiding lengthy incarceration.
Still, your clear thinking gets clouded with the SRT-10’s absolutely roaring exhaust, ported through a pair of stylish cup-sized pipes. And when you crank up the volume on the 518-watt sound system, complete with Infinity speakers and a big subwoofer, your daily commute may start to reflect moments from “Vanishing Point” or “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
On the bright side, when you aren’t appearing in traffic court or lining up at the gas station (I managed a Viper-styled 10.4 mpg average, on premium fuel, but fellow testers only got about 6 mpg), the SRT-10 is still a real truck with a full-sized bed and a bed liner, suitable for hauling sod or bags of cement. A few of the latter might also help you stick to the road a bit better, despite those absolutely enormous tires: Pop the clutch on this baby and you can spin those road atlas-width tires for blocks. An electronic rev limiter is there to help you prevent blowing the head off the engine every time you succumb to drag-racing temptation, cutting off the juice at about 6,500 rpm.
Driving the SRT-10 is a weird experience. If you’re constantly in the Jeff Gordon mindset, you won’t care about the heavy, jostling ride, the constant bouncing and the difficulty you’ll have keeping those huge tires straight (especially in rutted pavement). Front and rear stabilizer bars no doubt add to the stiffness, which makes the truck great for track use but a little rough for day-to-day commuting. Braking is also heavy but will rein in the beast, even at triple-digit speeds.
Inside, the SRT-10 is equipped with full leather seating that could charitably be described as cripplingly supportive ” these are race seats, for sure ” rounding out an interior that’s stripped down and built for handling speed, not lollygagging.
There’s a Viper-styled, eye-level oil temperature on the doorframe, plus easy-to-read, black-on-silver instruments (it’s one vehicle that backs up the 150 mph on the speedo). Aluminum pedals, the tall, leather-wrapped Hurst shift column and a rudimentary dual-zone heater keep things simple; the only creature comforts are a large, leather-topped console box large enough for a small laptop, as well as an overhead fuel and range computer.
Dodge has added a huge, ground-hugging air dam to the truck’s front bumper and an operative air scoop with the obligatory “Viper Powered” badges to warn all potential competitors. The spoiler on the end of the box is an admittedly silly touch (not quite as ridiculous as the huge spoiler on the Ram Daytona); it’ll either get in the way if you ever do carry cargo or be used as a backrest during tailgating sessions.
Summed up, not a subtle beast. But if over-the-top style and power is your thing, the SRT-10 delivers 500 horses worth. Only in America, my friends.
(Epilogue: As fun as it was to go 130 mph up Floyd Hill in the Ram, it turns out that a 500-horsepower truck which got 9 miles a gallon was not an exceptionally well-thought-out offering, just as gas first approached $3 per gallon. Only 6,500 of the SRT-10s were ever made between 2004 and 2006 … making them an interesting collector’s vehicle. The Viper engine, however, lives on in its namesake vehicle and is now offered as an 8.4 liter V10 producing 600 horsepower. The SRT-10’s world truck speed record was also eclipsed in 2006 by an Australian Holden HSV Maloo R8 supe-ute, which hit 169 miles per hour on a test track in the Woomera Prohibited Area, a weapons testing area the size of England.)