It’s hard for most of us to think of a test drive comparison in 2001 as being a “throwback,” but if you had a child when this video was made, they’d be a licensed driver themselves by now. Another thing to think about is that this was during the time when 300-400 RWHP was a big deal, and now you’re barely taken seriously if you’re not a dyno sheet carrying member of the four-digit club.
That being said, these cars, as historic as they may be now, are still interesting —it may be because they were the ‘cars of our day’ for the 30 and up crowd. Although when you look back, you realize right away that the intensity of heads-up car testing isn’t what it is today.
So in 2001, who was the king of performance? Was it Chevy, Dodge or Ford? Representing the models was the best of their era; a Corvette Z06, Mustang Cobra R, and Viper ACR. MotorWeek did three days of torture testing at the Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia to find out.
The Cobra R was built with a lot of racing bark — sporting a front splitter and massive wing, race seats and was devoid of 1960s creature comforts like an A/C. Ford put everything they had for the Mustang in this model, and came up with 385hp/385 lb-ft. of torque from its DOHC 5.4L screamer. During the testing, it was running 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds with a 13.4-second at 116 mph 1/4-mile. They didn’t give the actual lap times around the course, just noted that they were “consistently low.”
Then there’s the Viper, making 460 hp and 500 lbs.-ft. of torque out of its 8-liter V10. The tested car reached 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and ran a 12.4 at 120 mph E.T. in the quarter. On the road course, the Viper did the worst of the bunch.
Of course, the 385 hp/385 lb-ft. 5.7L LS6-powered Z06 was the real champ. It came in second to the Viper with a 4.8 second 0-60 time, 13.00 at 116 mph in the quarter-mile and came in first on the road course. The Z06 may have trailed the Viper, slightly, in acceleration but it came with a base price of nearly $40k less, and took out its direct competition when it came to handling.
For the price difference, the buyer could have opted to pay sticker for the ACR, or picked up a Z06 with 95% of the Viper’s performance, ordered a loaded Camaro SS and still would have had $8,000 left in his pocket for mods. No matter how you slice it, the Corvette is, was and always will be the best performance bargain for the dollar!