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If there is one thing that I'm always looking forward to have a conversation about, or venture into, it's cars. The enthusiasm goes all the way back to the year 2002. I was a five-year old boy, watching my older brother playing Gran Turismo, one of the most successful racing games ever made, on our Playstation 1 console. As I continue to marvel on every race he played, using various different cars, I decided to get in the action myself. Suddenly, I have the desire to race any car I'd like, as fast as I want, on any track I wished to do so. Thus, I began to learn the basics of the Playstation 1, and navigate my way through the Gran Turismo 1 game.

The game started off with a montage of various different cars racing around different tracks and different conditions, fueling the excitement of my five-year old self even more. As it finished, the main menu appeared. Naturally, I tried to navigate around it, and quickly stumbled upon the replay sections, presumably a collection of previous races done by other gamers. And, the first one that I stumbled across involved a blue 2002 Dodge Viper GTS, with white racing stripes, heroically finishing first in the race despite a last minute error.

It was a sleek 2-door sports car, with a long bonnet and short boot, and exhaust pipes located on the side of the car, from the good ol' United States of America. It was powered by a monstorous 8.0 litre V10 engine, the same type of engine used in a pick-up truck at the time, developed by Lamborghini, churning out 400 horsepower. In real life, the Viper was notorious for its tricky handling, and the side mounted pipes burning the driver's legs everytime they get out of the car. It was a no-nonsense brute.

I was in love with it immediately, and thus, forging the huge enthusiasm I have for cars until this day. In the Gran Turismo game, you had to complete a number of races to collect funds, and subsequently being able to buy the car off the dealership in the game. My five-year old self thought, "Right. I've got to finish this game. I want that Viper. In blue, with white racing stripes." That's all the motivation I needed. Eventually, I achieved my goal, which made my five-year old self very excited indeed, and words cannot describe enough to those who find this unfathomable.

To this day, the Viper is still one of my favourite cars in the world. It kickstarted my love for cars. Everytime a Viper pops up on my social media timeline, I can't help but share it, or like it. When I saw the latest Viper back in 2014 in a flesh, and sit in it for the first time during my stay in Qatar, my inner five-year old started to appear again. Seeing the long bonnet and short boot, the side exhaust pipes, and a bigger 8.4 litre V10 engine packing 640 horsepower, I was speechless. It was my ultimate childhood bedroom poster cars.

Sadly, the production of the Viper was stopped for good in 2017, with the final one finished in red, the same colour used when the original Viper rolled out of the production line back in 1989. Of course, I was saddened by this news. In today's world of growing demand for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV), and smaller displacement engines with force induction, and hybrid power to reduce emissions, perhaps we may never see a car like the Viper, with its enormous 8-litre V10 engine, launched brand new ever again. The old, iconic American sports car can now drive into the sunset, and enjoy its peaceful retirement.

Born in the USA: My Love for Cars