Is Fiat Scared of the Big Bad Viper?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
is fiat scared of the big bad viper

According to Chrysler’s bankruptcy papers, the Viper business was offered for $10 million and only drew a single $5.5 million bid. In short, “no offers meeting the Company’s basic requirements for the sale of Viper assets were submitted.” But Rep. Darrel Issa [R-CA] doesn’t buy (so to speak) the non-sale. In a letter to Chrysler, Issa reveals that a Michigan-based investor group offered $35 million for Viper this year and was negotiating terms before Chrysler’s bankruptcy. According to the Freep, these unnamed investors even entered discussions with the state of Louisiana. Now Issa is asking Chrysler to disclose all of its documents relating to the Viper business. Feistily. “If it is the case that Fiat used its ‘hard-fought’ superior bargaining position to establish as a condition of the merger a requirement that Chrysler allow the Viper brand to disappear in order to reduce competition for Ferrari, this too must be presented to the court.” Competition? Ferrari? $35 million? It’s hard to decide what part of this story is least plausible.

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4 of 18 comments
  • Doctorv8 Doctorv8 on Jun 05, 2009
    The Viper, in its current form and particularly in ACR trim, is simply the most spectacular production car in history. Cough.....Ford GT....cough.... ;-)

  • CaliCarGuy CaliCarGuy on Jun 05, 2009

    i think the viper couldve been corvette profitable if chrysler had tuned the hemi v8 to make more power. they wouldve had a business case for it cuz the hemi is used in other cars, just like the vettes v8 is used in other cars.

  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Jun 05, 2009

    I don't think the idea is that far fetched. Instead of looking at Viper & Marenello as direct competitors with F430 fans crossshopping Vipers, look at them as both being in the discretionary purchase expensive car toy market. The truth is that Ferrari doesn't just compete with Lamborghini and other supercar makers, the also compete with ultra luxury makers like Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Maybach. My guess is that a significant percentage of Ferrari buyers are not so much string-back glove tifosi, or 10/10ths drivers, but rather folks with a lot of money looking to buy an exclusive car. I'm too lazy to look up the exact figures but the worldwide market for cars that are $80,000 and up is small in terms of units, at least compared to more pedestrian sedans and pickups. I think Ferrari sold about 4,000 cars a year before the economic troubles hit the fan. In '08, Chrysler sold about 1,200 Vipers. Sales had dipped, but the car was freshened for '08 with more power. Also, the Viper's impending demise may have boosted sales as well. In any case, though, 1,200 units of a car with an MSRP of ~$89K for the base models, and $98K for the ACR, makes the Viper a player in the big buck car market. Any of the companies selling cars in the six figure price range would benefit from removing a competitor that sells >1,000 units annually. Also, the current Viper has 600 HP. There are only a handful of cars that are that high powered. Whether they are Dodges, Lambos or AMG Benzes, they all sort of compete with each other.

  • King Bojack King Bojack on Jun 05, 2009

    Vipers, selling for a million Barret Jackson bucks in 2030 (assuming the Mayans are wrong)