Are Reports of the Viper's Demise Premature?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
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are reports of the viper s demise premature

In the past few days there has been a flurry of posts about Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ending production of the Dodge Viper in 2017 and closing the Conner Avenue Assembly facility where the v-10 powered sportscar is hand-built.

When I see a news story, I’ll try to seek out the original reporting and if possible, the original source material. Now that I’ve seen that source material, and asked Conner’s plant manager about the matter, I’m not convinced that the Viper’s demise is a certainty. Viper fans shouldn’t go hanging snakeskin* crepe just yet.

In the case of that supposed demise, all the news articles that I could find on the topic — whether from blogs or traditional automotive publications — were based on a rather sketchy report on, which was based on the proposed labor agreement FCA has presented to the United Auto Workers, in the section under product allocation and sourcing.

Allpar’s statement was pretty firm:

The Dodge Viper will be leaving in calendar-year 2017, according to the proposed FCA-UAW contract.

The contract wording, though, was not quoted. Now that I’ve read the proposal, I’m not sure if not quoting it wasn’t deliberate, to make the Viper’s death seem like more of a sure thing. It sure got some attention and links to Allpar.

When FCA introduced the latest iteration of the Viper ACR earlier this year in a media event at the Conner plant, I just happened to be in the group that was given the factory tour by plant manager Doug Gouin. It also happened that two decades ago my now-adult son asked for and got his fifth grade class a VIP tour of the Viper factory with a letter to then-Chrysler president Bob Lutz. When I told him the story, Gouin gave me his business card to arrange a return visit for my son for a future story here at TTAC.

Figuring that the plant manager would know the real skinny on its future, I reached out to Gouin, asking if he could comment on the Allpar report. He couldn’t, as FCA only authorizes a small number of executives to speak publicly for the company.

He sent me a gracious, but unrelated email, and forwarded my request about the Viper and plant’s future to one of their communications spokeswomen. She told me that while the contract ratification is underway, FCA will not offer any comment on anything in the proposed agreement, including manufacturing plans. She did, however, help me navigate the UAW’s website to find what it actually says about the Conner Ave plant and the Viper. She said nothing a about the Viper’s future either way.

What it does say in the proposed labor contract doesn’t necessarily bode well for the car or the factory, but what it doesn’t say is that there will be no Viper after 2017 or that Conner Assembly will definitely close. Under the heading of “Product Allocation and Work Retention” for that facility it says: “Current product build out in 2017,” and, “No future product has identified beyond the product life cycle.”

At face value, the contract is simply giving no assurances to the UAW that Conner Avenue Assembly will have work to do beyond 2017. That’s it.

Sure, it doesn’t look optimistic, but it’s also not a formal obituary for the Viper. While “current product” and “product life cycle” could mean the entire Viper program, it could just as likely mean the current Viper generation, which by 2017 will probably need a replacement to stay current in the world of 600+ horsepower sports cars. A lot can happen in the automotive world in two years.

The Viper could die, but then it also could get a last minute reprieve from the governor Sergio. If I was a Viper fan of means, I’d go ahead and take Jack Baruth’s advice and buy a new Viper while I still could, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if someday at a club meet a 2018 Viper sits next to my hypothetical 2016 model.

*I wanted to use “black mamba crepe” but apparently, mambas are not pit vipers.

Note: If any of our readers know how FCA defines “current product” and “product life cycle” and whether those terms apply to a general nameplate or a specific generation model, please drop us a note in the comments below.

Photo by the author.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Ronnie Schreiber
Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

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3 of 49 comments
  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Oct 20, 2015

    The problem with the Viper is that its too much of too much. Not helped by the likes of Jay Leno and the so American, the eagle is crying. The Corvette is 95% of the Viper's capability but its civil and 28mpg when you're driving home. Both are too much car for its avg. buyer. And although Americans dont think its a 'supercar', the reality is a 6.2 v8 450hp $55k USD thing is out of reach to 95% of non Americans. I would also argue that the Corvette has turned the page as far as luxury and quality goes and the Viper is not more 'luxury and quality' than the Corvette.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Oct 20, 2015

    The Viper is like the GT-R. Both are brutally fast. On a track, your face will melt from the G forces, and braking is such that only F1 drivers will know what you mean. Driving home from that track, the car is borderline useless.

    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 21, 2015

      "Borderline useless"? Not really. It'll likely get you a lot of stares, and sometimes a police escort. If someone hits you, the police are right there, so there's that.

  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriors
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.