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Omaha Magazine

A Special Viper Returns To Omaha: Nico Marasco Buys Back His Father’s Vehicle

Mar 28, 2022 05:04PM ● By Mike Whye
side view of 1994 viper

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

 Nico Marasco is one who loves to search for cars that he may want to own—and he felt especially rewarded by the end of the search to a black 1994 Dodge Viper that was delivered to him this past October. It was the first Viper owned by his father, Ralph Marasco.  

However, in 1999, Ralph sold it and then bought another and another and…“We always have had a Viper,” said Nico, who added that the 1994 Viper remained in his heart because it was the first in the family.  Like his father, who died in 2020 at age 59, Nico is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador real estate.  Outside of real estate, they enjoyed cars together, much like some other sons and fathers go hunting or fishing.  Family friend John Wanninger said about Nico, “I can only imagine how much more we’d get done each day if we didn’t go on and on about cars.”

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    

When he initially wondered if the Viper still existed and how he could search for it, Nico happened upon an old registration slip bearing its identification information.  “Then I went back and forth [whether] to find it or not bother. I was afraid if I went looking, I’d be disappointed,” he recalled, wondering if whoever had it since 1999 had cared for the Viper. Several people helped Nico search for the car; eventually two phone numbers surfaced, and Nico decided to contact its owner. “I texted them with a picture of the registration so they wouldn’t think I’m just some crazy person,” he explained.

Four hours later, Nico received a text from the man who had bought the car in 1999, saying he still had it. “It was absolutely wild,” said Nico, noting that the man had put only about 14,000 miles on the Viper. “The guy just babied the car for 21 years.”

A phone call followed, and Nico asked if the man might sell the car to him. The owner asked for some time to think and a few days later texted Nico that he was willing to talk more. After agreeing on a price, Nico flew with Wanninger to where the man lived in Indiana, test-drove it, and, not long after that, the Viper was on a truck coming to Omaha.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

The Vipers

Dodge debuted the Viper in 1989, but it did not go on sale until 1992. More than 35,000 were made before production ceased in 2017. The Viper was not designed to be a touring car, or a sports car, but a high-performance car. “It’s a monster,” said Nico about the car harboring a 10-cylinder engine that generates 400 horsepower to turn its rear wheels at incredible speeds. “They’re just phenomenal cars.”  

The 1994 Viper lacks some features found in other contemporary cars and later Vipers, such as air bags, traction control, external door handles, and even cup holders. The side windows are plastic sheets that have to be zippered shut. It also did not come with air conditioning, which Nico would welcome. “You’re pinned between the transmission tunnel and the exhaust pipe, and it gets really hot in there,” he says.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Home in Omaha Again

The ’94 Viper is now stabled in a large barn designed to shelter several beautifully restored vehicles owned by Nico and Wanninger. These include a 1980 Monte Carlo once owned by Nico’s aunt, although it now sports a 550-horsepower engine; a 1961 Lincoln Continental; a 2000 Viper that Nico and his father bought in 2018; a 2006 Mustang GT that he co-owns with Wanninger; and his day-to-day car, a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera.


This article originally appeared in the April/May 2022  issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.