By on July 10, 2009

The official announcement was made earlier (see what happens when you play badminton with your daughter?). Here’s the memo sent to employees:

Dear Employees: Dodge is proud to announce the continuation of Dodge Viper SRT10® production beyond the 2009 calendar year! Originally slated to cease production in December 2009, the Viper business is no longer for sale, and the Connor Avenue Assembly Plant, the sole home of Viper production since 1995 will continue to produce the V-10 powered sports car. This is great news for our Company as well as for the dedicated team at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit who build this iconic American car. We at Chrysler Group LLC are committed to building great products that exceed the expectations of our customers and, over the years, the legendary Dodge Viper is the type of great product that has set our company apart.

Since the Viper’s introduction as a concept car at the 1989 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it has captured the hearts and imagination of enthusiasts around the world. Then as now, Viper remains a pure formula for “melding man and machine.” With its dramatic styling and 600 horsepower, the 2009 Dodge Viper SRT10 is simply the ultimate Dodge. Available as a coupe or roadster, the Viper SRT10 launches from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and reaches a top speed of more than 200 mph. Viper is a powerful reminder of the great vehicles that make this company extraordinary!

[thanks to Autojunkie for the inside dope]

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48 Comments on “The Dodge Viper Lives . . . to Die Another Day?...”


  • avatar
    PanzerJaeger

    Does anyone care about the Viper anymore…. ?

  • avatar

    The Viper doesn’t interest me at all, but, I hope Chrysler does well int he future cause I think they got a bum wrap and could be so much better.

    I’d take an SRT8 300, Charger or Challenger over anything being offered by Toyota, Honda or even Ford.

    I love my 300.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    CAFE or the EPA regs will kill it eventually I guess. There will always be a market for a car like this though admittedly it will be small.

    MOPARFIA could consider morphing it into something more modern and attractive (marketing-wise) but they clearly have bigger fish to fry right now.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    Does anyone care about the Viper anymore…. ?

    If you care about fast street cars that can dominate a road course, you do…. Matter of fact, the Viper ACR holds the record at the ‘Ring for production cars. It accomplished that feat in one afternoon (only 4-5 laps). Yes, faster than a Ferrari Enzo. Faster than a Porsche Carrera GT. Faster than a Pagani Zonda. Faster than a Corvette ZR1. Faster than the Nissan GT-R. This is not the exception, it is the ‘norm. Dominated the Car & Driver Lightning lap. Dominated road course times in 2008 One Lap of America. Holds lap records across many tracks in US. And get this, the Viper is so darn stout and overbuilt it can sustain track abuse year-in-year-out. I know track examples with over 100K on engine with no rebuilds. Some still have original clutch, believe it or not. Tires, brakes, and rotors. That’s all you’ll ever need to replace, unlike 99% of other posers that claim they can handle track duty (Ferrari/Lambo/Aston, you listening). All for a price of well under 100 grand (less for non-ACR) if you shop around. Yes, it’s not for everyone. But it is a very SPECIAL and FOCUSED car that caters to a small loyal following of true enthusiasts. Driving this car takes work, which we like. That filters out the ‘old men’ and ‘posers’ that drive automatic Corvettes, contrary to what some believe.

  • avatar
    PanzerJaeger

    onerareviper:

    Yes, wonderful car then and now, but does anyone care anymore? It was hot in the 90s, but now the Vette seems to get far more attention. I’d like to see some sales numbers to justify keeping it in production during Chrysler’s current financial state…

  • avatar
    lw

    They agree to sell it / kill it and get Federal loans based on that…

    Presto Chango! You got a problem with this? Call someone in Italy!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    With the tooling all written down it may not take very high production numbers for the Viper to show a modest profit.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Viper has always made a profit… plus most of the same people work on the SRT’s… also profitable. If you were to remove either one, the other one is likely to shift to the loss category. A viper is one of the most untamed production cars out there. It’s crude, it’s rough, if effin fast, and a riot to drive.

  • avatar
    FrustratedConsumer

    If you’ve got a link cardeveloper I’d appreciate it, ’cause I’ve been pounding the pavement trying to find any numbers surrounding it’s production – anything I can find says it loses money, doesn’t make any.

    And I doubt anyone’s buying a new Sebring because it comes from the same company that produces Viper. I’m really, really surprised this isn’t being canned. The only reason would be to hold off until the selling climate is better before unloading it.

    This company has to start making money and fast. Frivolous nonsense like the Viper is why the Detroit 3 are in the hole they’re in!

  • avatar
    tced2

    There was some concern about the continued existence of the Viper because it is now a sister division to Ferrari (part of the mothership Fiat).

    If I’m not mistaken, Viper was approved/encouraged by none other that Bob Lutz when he was president of Chrysler.

  • avatar
    riskylogic

    If the Viper were intended to be anything other than a halo car, then there would be an SRT8 version that a) cost $20K less and b) you could seriously think about taking on a long commute.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    We at Chrysler Group LLC are committed to building great products that exceed the expectations of our customers

    I sure as shit hope so. But maybe their commitment is a decade late and billions short?

    I had my hopes with the 300/Magnum. And I think the minivans, less the rattles, are worthy. But the Journey, Sebring, et al….Sheesh.

  • avatar
    magicboy2

    PanzerJaeger :
    July 10th, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Does anyone care about the Viper anymore…. ?

    Other than the people that keep them sold out, and waitlisted for ACRs?

    http://www.autoblog.com/2008/11/05/viper-still-selling-like-hotcakes-acr-sold-out/

  • avatar
    venator

    Now they just have to improve on the fit and finish. The easiest way to do that would be to sell the Viper as a kit car, with the purchaser doing the final assembly. CAFE ratings would become a moot point, as well.

  • avatar
    gettysburg

    We at Chrysler Group LLC are committed to building great products that exceed the expectations of our customers

    Shouldn’t they be aiming to exceed the expectations of people who aren’t already Chrysler custormers. It would seem that their existing customers have pretty low expectations.

  • avatar
    stevenm

    Does anyone care about the Viper anymore…. ?

    The Viper has always had a cult following and a loyal owner base, and with it only getting faster and better, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an iota of automotive soul not caring about it.

  • avatar
    levi

    Did you hear that?

    PPFFFTTT.

    The sound of Obama’s sphincter constricting in inverse proportional ratio to the billions of tax dollars he apparently just flushed down the crapper to create a green New Chrysler….

    Dammit. We’ll just have to raise CAFE to 45 mpg….

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Stuff CAFE. Long live the Viper!

    This move makes GM look dumb for dumping Hummer and Pontiac, each of which at least had some distinctive vehicles.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Is Mike Ekavettttttiiiii (sp?) high? Get that man some sunglasses.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I just saw a lime green Viper down at Huntington Beach here in CA a couple hours ago. Those cars always look amazing in person. And they are serious track weapons. Does anybody care about the Viper anymore? Yes, a few. It’s just a fantastic car. No two ways about it.

  • avatar
    MBella

    venator, I wonder if they could sell a complete car without the wheels attached, and call it a kit. You might have found a loophole in the system.

  • avatar
    venator

    MBella, Chrysler have been doing something similar for years, only they got it mixed up a little bit. They sell complete cars, then the parts fall off.

  • avatar
    boosterseat

    Nice car, shame about the company.
    If it was profitable, why were they trying to unload it for a few million $$ while they were bleeding rivers of coin everywhere else? Wouldn’t you try to build more of those profitable cars, especially since it would seem to be the only profitable one of the bunch?
    That company is so screwed, eesch.

    venator :They sell complete cars, then the parts fall off – Thats almost not fair, but not really- nice!

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    I’m thinking this is a very PT Cruiser-like scenario, again. The tooling’s paid for, every one sold is profit. Since nobody was going to buy the Viper for a quick buck, might as well keep making them simply because there’s no point in NOT making them.

    But, unlike the PT Cruiser which is uncompetitive in every realm except cargo space, the Viper is still one of the best supercars on the market, and it has the records and titles to prove it.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    God those things are ugly, stupid, can’t stop repeatedly and handle like tractors.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    PeteMoron,

    How does something that “handle like a tractors” and “can’t stop repeatedly” hold the record for production car at the ‘Ring? If you had a clue, you’d know the following:

    Brakes:

    StopTech two-piece, slotted, lightweight rotors combine with the Viper SRT10’s Brembo calipers to reduce rotating inertia and unsprung mass, improve brake cooling, and significantly reduce fade even under extreme conditions. The StopTech rotors feature a patented curved-fin design, a key element in improving brake cooling. The StopTech brake rotors combined with the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Tires and Sidewinder lightweight wheels combine to reduce 60 pounds of unsprung, rotating mass. The 2008 Dodge SRT10 Viper ACR stops from 60 mph in less than 100 feet.

    Suspension:

    The Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR is specifically modified and tuned for track performance. The ACR suspension includes coil-over racing dampers from KW Suspensions that are adjustable for damping and ride height. The shocks are two-way adjustable without removing the wheels – a timesaver on the track – and they include a large range for compression and rebound. The KW dampers and forks are machined from solid aluminum billet, feature spherical bearing mounts, and are optimized to minimize weight and maximize performance. A new front stabilizer bar increased roll-stiffness.

    Stoptech, Brembo, KW adjustable coil-overs, spherical bearing mounts… Let me know where I can buy a tractor with this setup…

  • avatar
    zora

    The local drug dealers, and men who must compensate, will be delighted with the continued production of the Viper.

  • avatar
    Dorian666

    “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

    Not a great car but has found a niche and if its making money, just let it be. It could be USA’s Morgan.

    We are getting short of cars with polarizing character.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    stevenm :

    The Viper has always had a cult following and a loyal owner base, and with it only getting faster and better, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an iota of automotive soul not caring about it.

    Exactly… How can any performance car junkie want the Viper to die? Whether you like it or not, makes no difference. It is a unique, limited, hand built car that is extremely fast. For instance, I would not buy a Lotus Elise. But I’m glad it exists. And I appreciate what it brings to the table. After all, do you really want the automotive world to be ‘MORE BORING’? Do we really need another Accord/Camry? Next time you’re out taking a drive, count how many cars induce an emotional response (good or bad)… Not many…

    BTW – The Viper HAS and CONTINUES to make a small profit for Chrysler ever since the 3rd generation was produced (2003–>). Before then, Chrysler did take a loss on the car, but figured those would be gained in other sales (The true definition of a ‘Halo’ car). From 1992-2002, the Viper had an extremely expensive clam-shell hood. Looked awesome but cost a fortune.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    I live a few miles from NHMS (Loudon NH), and would love to own a Viper for track days.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    yThis company has to start making money and fast. Frivolous nonsense like the Viper is why the Detroit 3 are in the hole the’re in!…

    Not by a long shot. The D3 are in the hole for a lot of reasons, but spending a tiny amount of their overall development money on this is certainly not one of them. Take all the Viper money out of the equation and Chrysler is still in the hole, big time. Yet, when Vipers were actually a topic of discussion around the office, the general response was “looks like Chrysler is starting to become a viable carmaker again.” It is not the Viper’s fault that management wasted whatever marketing capital this car created by merging with the Germans and making Sebrings. Camry’s may bring home the bacon, but a Camry in every driveway is like every home being built with an open floor plan and white everything. YUK.

    And CAFE really has no bearing on vehicles that sell in tiny numbers, hence the name…

    BTW, Petemoran: I usually agree with your position, but “tractor”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CKn9pAMDLE

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Why not drop a Hemi in the thing?

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ golden2husky

    Thanks, you made my day. “The Pennsylvania Professional Lawnmower Racing Association”! Hilarious.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    FrustratedConsumer: “And I doubt anyone’s buying a new Sebring because it comes from the same company that produces Viper.”This has always been the rationale of producing completely impractical ‘halo’ vehicles like the Viper. The theory goes that halo cars draw the gullible into showrooms where they can be pounced upon and sold substantially lesser vehicles (in this case, stuff like Calibers and Sebrings).

    Every review I’ve ever read where the Viper is compared with its peers, the Viper winds up coming in dead last. For all intents and purposes, the Viper is nothing more than a latter-day Plymouth Superbird.onerareviper: “That filters out the ‘old men’ and ‘posers’ that drive automatic Corvettes, contrary to what some believe.”Well, it certainly cleans out the gene pool each time one of those old guys with a wallet greater than their driving ability wraps their Viper around a tree.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ onerareviper

    If you had a clue….

    Yeah, and the “ACR” is a “production” model. Right.

    That’ll be why the “regular” SRT10s burn off their brakes at Mount Panaroma and were told not come out again a few years ago. Thankfully the clown car SRT10s have not been back.

    At my local track, I can outrun the two Viper (non-SRT10) owners in my Caterham, and probably with my rally car with it’s tarmac setup.

    They’d probably be only at home at the drag strip or drift days, but feel they have to “show” those Chevy or Porsche engined cars who just laugh their arses off…

  • avatar
    rmwill

    Viper haters work in a hair or nail salon and drive VW’s.

    The lap time around the ‘ring speaks for itself.

    Saying a Viper ACR is less than a full production car than a Caterham 7? That’s a joke. And I love the 7.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see some sales numbers to justify keeping it in production during Chrysler’s current financial state…

    Chrysler sold about 1200 Vipers in 2008, and that 100/month sales rate has continued throughout carmageddon. There’s a reason why the Conner Ave. plant was the first to restart production after Chrysler came out of Ch. 11.

    MSRP on the base Viper is $86K and invoice price is $79K, which means that the Viper generates about $95 million a year in revenue for Chrysler. There’s no way that it costs them anywhere near that for the Viper program. The Conner Ave. plant is not an expensive operation, just a simple assembly line, and the V10 engine assy operation (which was moved to Conner a few years ago). There’s no expensive paint shop because the panels are supplied by vendors already painted. The car is well amortized and the current model is only one year into the current generation.

    I have an emotional reason for wanting to see the Viper survive. When my son, my only son, whom I love (first person to identify the source of that phrase and why my use is ironic will get a 2008 Viper press kit as long as you pay for the postage), was younger, as a father-son thing we’d build model cars, his Pinewood Derby car etc. One of the models was a very detailed Viper. This was when Mo was 10 so that would have been 1994. He asked me if the real Vipers were assembled the same way the model went together, and I told him not exactly, but that the assembly plant was not far away in Detroit and that if he wanted to see how they were assembled, he could write a letter to Bob Lutz, the then president of Chrysler, at their then headquarters in Highland Park.

    A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from Chrysler. At first I thought it was about our minivan, but then the guy identified himself as the general manager of manufacturing of Chrysler and that he was calling from the executive offices with a letter in his hand from my son.

    “Your son’s letter got more attention around here than if President Clinton had sent it. If an adult had sent it it’d have gone in the circular file, but Mr. Lutz was tickled by the letter and would like to invite your son and his classmates to a VIP tour of the Connor Ave plant.”

    I had deliberately told my son to handwrite and address the letter himself. His childish scrawl got someone’s attention.

    I explained that the school he attended had two 5th grade classes and that I doubted the school would let just one have the field trip so the invitation might mean as many as 40 or 50 kids, but that wasn’t a problem. Neither was finding enough chaperons and car poolers. They gave the kids snacks and everyone got a red Viper t-shirt (I still have mine – but then I sell embroidered apparel and have an odd hobby of collecting free shirts and hats).

    Everyone had a great time. We saw a couple of cars that were in non-standard colors, one of them a dark blue-green that may have briefly been available as a production color. The coolest part was that every finished car, before the final body panels are hung, gets driven off the line into a dyno cell. Four large concrete pillars rise out of the floor in front of and behind the car as safety measures, and they run the V10 to redline in all six gears.

    The employees are all veteran Chrysler workers, who bid on working there. Only employees with perfect attendance records and spotless work records are accepted. For a UAW line worker, it’s a relatively cushy job. The plant is quiet, and the line doesn’t exactly move fast. At an annual build rate of 1200 units, that works out to 4 or 5 cars a day. I think the most they ever built were 3000 in a year.

    So I have fond feelings for the Viper and the Connor Ave facility. Excuse me if it’s also left me with positive feelings about Lutz. As a matter of fact, at the ’08 NAIAS, my son was helping me out and I introduced him to Lutz, reminding him of the letter and plant tour and telling him that the 10 year old was now an engineering major. Lutz told him to switch to chemical engineering because of the growth of the battery industry.

    Sometimes we forget that famous or accomplished people are still people. At a political event I once was standing closely to Laura Bush when she was handed a baby who started to fuss and saw her immediately switch from being a politician’s wife to being an experienced mom trying to comfort an unhappy baby. It was a very human moment.

    OT but speaking of human moments at the NAIAS. This year I saw one of Ford’s software engineers working on the Sync system introduce his parents to Alan Mullaly, and the CEO warmly and effusively praised their son. They were beaming.

    A few years back (when Ford was showing either the GR-1 concept tribute to the Shelby Daytona Coupe or the Cobra concept) Carroll Shelby was hanging out in the Ford display and shmoozing (do Texans shmooz?) with Hoot McInerny, a longtime Detroit auto dealer who is a contemporary of Shelby’s. They’re old, old friends and I heard Shelby tell Hoot, “You know, if I was ever in trouble and needed help from someone in Detroit, you’re the first person I’d call.” I got the impression that Shelby wasn’t a fan of many suits in Detroit. Jennifer Flake, who now heads global communications for Ford, told me that when Shelby gets behind the wheel he loses 30 years.

  • avatar
    venator

    @Ronnie Schreiber: Genesis 22.2?

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    Saying a Viper ACR is less than a full production car than a Caterham 7? That’s a joke.

    Beat me to it… Thanks rmwill.

    And oh yeah, I’ve seen an OEM Honda Civic beat the sh*t out of a Caterham 7 at my local track. I guess that means the Honda is faster… roll-eyes… It’s the driver, not the car…

    BTW – The Viper has INCREDIBLE brakes past the 2003 model year. And from 1992 – 2002 a simple rear brake caliper upgrade ($500) was all that was needed to create great racing brakes. Oh yeah, learning how to threshold brake was also required. But if you’re tracking any car, isn’t this a manditory skill? Sounds like the guys that were racing the Vipers had limited skills, which explains the lap times. Also, why are you bringing up Vipers that are 7-17 years old? We’re talking about the latest production model. Next time I read a review about a car, I’ll start saying what a POS it is do to a 1997 model year. LOL.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    @venator, @Ronnie Schreiber: Yes, Abraham, of course – words spoken by God.

    @Dorian666: “We are getting short of cars with polarizing character.” Quite right, which is why the Hummer should soldier on. Not that I want one.

    Automobile haters want us all to drive silver Camrys (hybrids, of course).

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ rmwill

    Saying a Viper ACR is less than a full production car than a Caterham 7? That’s a joke.

    Actually, I didn’t say that.

    What I wouldn’t do is include a non-production car’s time in a production car list of lap times.

    In that case, the Radical SR8 lap time speaks for itself.

    The ACR is not a “production” car as most people would define it. Take off the mods and does the GT-R/911-Turbo go faster on that track?

    The production car SRT10s I’ve seen racing burnt their brakes off before four laps of Mount Panaroma. I’m fairly sure they had good drivers. Maybe I’ll pay that they weren’t prepared very well in that case.

    Older Vipers I’ve come across are lumbering tractors.

    @ onerareviper

    The Viper has INCREDIBLE brakes past the 2003 model year.

    See above regarding the SRT10s. I’ll withdraw my comments. Perhaps the one’s I saw weren’t very well prepared.

  • avatar
    stevenm

    The achilles’ heel of a stock Viper in a track environment isn’t the brakes, which are indeed awesome. It’s the absolutely useless run-flat tires. They make an already difficult car to handle nearly impossible to drive fast with any degree of confidence, even with the requisite brass cojones needed to track one in the first place.

    With any kind of performance tire, much less a semi or full slick, they are indeed a weapon that few things can toy with. I had opportunity to drive an ’06 Couple on R-compounds some years back. Stuck, and stopped, better than anything I’ve ever driven that wasn’t open-wheel.

    As for the ACR, you can walk into a dealer, plunk down your deposit, and you’ll get one. If that doesn’t meet the definition of a “production car”, I don’t know what does.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    As for the ACR, you can walk into a dealer, plunk down your deposit, and you’ll get one.

    Well, my apologies then. I was of the impression that the ACR was from an external tuner.

    When they’re run in Australia they are not in the “Production” categories, but “Production Based” FIA categories.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    PeteMoran,

    Yes, to get an ACR requires a check in the 21B options list. That’s it! Any dealer will be happy to take your additional $12,000 US. You kept confusing me saying it is not a production car… Here are the changes over a ‘normal’ Viper:

    Softer street legal tires, lighter rims, two piece brake rotors, adjustable suspension, and aerodynamic aids (wing + front splitter). As you can see, a ‘normal’ Viper isn’t far behind. Everything else is the same.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I think Pete can be let off the hook now…He was man enough to admit his comments were off…no need to BEAT him…

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Frustrated Consumer… sorry for the long delay, been doing some real world stuff :) Unfortunately, my info is insider details, but I would tell you, even within Chrysler, they disagree with the true profitability of the Viper. There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics… this falls into the statistics column! Every car gets a percentage of some kind towards incentives (rebates). Viper is calculated at some number between 5-15% (I don’t know the true number). This is booked as an expense. taking into account that number and fully taking into account the development team, the Viper shows a loss each and every year. BUT, they sell out the Viper production without any rebates, and the development team performs other duties, i.e. SRT development.

  • avatar

    venator, gslippy,

    correct on the citation, now why is my use ironic?

    Speaking of Mopar ACR’s there’s a Neon ACR for sale on Detroit Craigslist for $2150.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    @Ronnie Schreiber: You believe – as with Isaac – that the Viper will live today, only to die later?

    You may be right. But no product/brand lives forever, except maybe the Corvette. The Viper is 17 years old. That’s pretty good for any nameplate.

    I would guess its longevity will ultimately be tied to its profitability.

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