The coolest thing about a Dodge Viper is its unique blend of old-school musclecar and new-world road car. Just for that reason, "sporty car" types hate it, saying it's "too unrefined." Guys like us say, "Right on! I can work on that thing!" Not all of us can have an exotic ride like a Viper, but we have to give it respect. After all, it's the most powerful American car on the road and its tail-out driving habits make for fun driving and watching. They're just cool.

It's the ease of repair, access, and over-built structures that have serious muscle fans, with the means, of course, ordering new Vipers and scouring the insurance reports trying to find crashed cars for a value. Top Fuel racer and mail-order guru Doug Herbert is one such guy (he should know about the "crash" part, as he bought back his totaled '96 R/T for a profit). Doug figured he could bolt-on 100 hp to his '99 GTS by using the right selections from the aftermarket, all the while doing it without screwing up the integrity or reliability. As you'll see from this tech story, he was right.

Though you can make a ton more power by changing the heads, cam, and intake manifold, Doug and his "Team B" IHRA Top Fuel squad (the NHRA guys were out on the road) didn't want to take the car off the road for more than a day or two (look for Herbie to get serious with his ride in months to come, likely on these pages). So, they bought the common sense bolt-ons, like headers, exhaust, air boxes, throttle bodies, a shifter, and roller-rockers. Along the way, they uncovered a few easy-to-remedy situations, like odd valve geometry, heavy retainers, and necessary fabrication, but none of these were deals that couldn't be handled with a couple more mail-order parts and some thought.

Follow along as we look into a 100hp bolt-on buildup with some cool guys and a serious musclecar of our time. We found that the lessons learned and examples in play are just plain solid automotive tech for late-model vehicles--the principles are valid on so many other rides.