Chrysler's Crushing Vipers

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
chrysler s crushing vipers

In what is shaping up to be a public-relations disaster for Chrysler, the company has decided to crush as many as ninety-three first-generation and pre-production Vipers. Worst of all, they’re forcing a community college in Puget Sound to crush prototype despite the fact that the school is still using it to train students. The question is: why?

It’s fairly common for pre-production cars to “escape” manufacturer custody. They can wind up doing anything from racing in a spec NASA series to serving as training tools for high school and college auto-shop programs. It would appear that a fairly large number of first-generation Vipers — ninety-three, at least — made it out of the building.

And then… well, rumor (as reported by various blogs) says that a couple of these Vipers were crashed on public roads, costing Chrysler millions of dollars in fines and settlements. Early Vipers can be challenging to drive enthusiastically, although they’re no worse than any other, um, ten-cylinder car with no traction control and a hood the length of the USS Hornet‘s flight deck. The “loan agreements” under which the Vipers were given to their current custodians give Chrysler the right to demand their destruction, and the rumor is that Chrysler is giving those destruction orders in order to prevent further liability hassles.

Not so, claims Chrysler:

About 10 years ago, Chrysler Group donated a number of Dodge Viper vehicles to various trade schools for educational purposes. As part of the donation process, it is routine, standard procedure — and stipulated in our agreements — that whenever vehicles are donated to institutions for education purposes that they are to be destroyed when they are no longer needed for their intended educational purposes.

With advancements in automotive technology over the past decade, it is unlikely that these vehicles offer any educational value to students.

Also, Chrysler Group has no record of any legal proceedings involving Dodge Viper vehicles donated to educational institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits.

To recap, the Vipers in question have no significant historical value, have not been involved in any accidents and serve no educational purpose – which is what they were designed to do at first.


It would be easy to pick the blog entry apart, and the enthusiast community is doing just that. The only thing I’ll say here is this: The notion that ninety-three early Vipers, taken together, have no significant historical value — well, that’s ridiculous. Imagine if ninety-three pre-production ’53 Vettes were to become available. Hell, imagine if ninety-three pre-production ’83 Vettes were to become available. These cars have value to someone. At the very least, they should be released into a race series or some sort of historical collection. A “Viper Ranch” with all of them bleaching under the desert sun would be better for future generations than this decision.

Chrysler’s done a lot to earn the respect and admiration of “car guys” over the last few decades. From the Shelby Charger to the old Viper ACR, the company’s tried hard to give us the most speed for the least money. But this cowardly crushing of Chrysler’s own history is a dark day in that history. It won’t be forgotten.

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  • Davew833 Davew833 on Mar 07, 2014

    When I worked for the local Utah Infiniti dealer in 1992, the community college in town had a first-generation Q45 test mule donated (or loaned) to them under similar conditions. We borrowed it back and converted it to a race car to run at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Modifications included a full roll cage, fire extinguisher, nitrous injection, low rolling-resistance racing wheels and tires, and lots of obnoxious sponsor decals. Unfortunately, the engine was so tired from whatever flogging Nissan had used it for that it blew on the first pass at Bonneville. We then became responsible to find another engine for it before returning it to the community college. Its racing career a failure, I always wondered what ended up happening to it.

  • Tklockau Tklockau on Mar 08, 2014

    This really ticks me off, ever since I heard about it from my brother last week. Since Fiat now owns Chrysler, couldn't those schools have said "screw you, Old Chrysler went bankrupt and is dead and gone, we're keeping them!" I'm sure it's not that simple, but this was a really dumb move on Mopar's part.

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.