Last week the final Dodge Viper rolled down the line, a suitably tasteless gold and bronze affair with which to sign off 18 years of over-the-top excess.
To many the Viper was a bit of a joke, an outsize, overblown hotrod from over there which possessed none of the subtleties we Europeans look for in our supercars.
But that’s why I liked it: its creators took an 8-litre, V10 engine that started life in a truck, stuck it in a very basic chassis and directed its preposterous torque earthwards through the medium of the fattest road legal tyres money could buy. Never mind the quality, feel the width. It was nothing if not pleasingly simple.
No its handling wasn’t very good in the dry and, yes, it was comically awful in the wet, but at least you never got bored driving one.
My best Viper memory was driving the first one in the country to Italy to chase the Mille Miglia. With Sutcliffe sharing the pedalling we determined before leaving that the boot would take the roof or our luggage but not both, so left the top behind and drove overnight to Italy at speeds I may never admit to.
There then followed the wettest Mille Miglia on record, but we didn’t care. Despite all the old racing Ferraris, Maseratis and Alfas, the Viper upstaged the lot of them. I can still hear the gasps from the crowds as this vast red monster hove into view.
One day I expect there will be another car called Viper but it won’t be like this one. This Viper was a dinosaur when it was new 18 years ago and, frankly, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.
But I’ll still miss its mad looks, huge power and no prisoners attitude to the open road. In an era of increasingly homogenous design, it was proud to stand out and shout that it was different. It was a car of true and enduring character. And now it’s gone.