By on August 17, 2017

last-viper

It’s a wrap on the Dodge Viper. FCA’s flagship supercar just rolled down the assembly line for the last time. In production from 1992 to 2010 and from 2013 through 2017, we’re hoping this is just another three-year hiatus for the snake. But, as production is ending indefinitely, we have no way of knowing if that will be the case.

What is assured is that the Viper’s current incarnation is over. Ralph Gilles, FCA’s head of design, posted a series of photos on social media documenting the vehicle’s last two production models as they made their way out of Detroit’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, the Dodge Viper’s home since 1995.

In the photos, Gilles posed with Dodge/SRT design chief Mark Trostle in front of the penultimate Viper’s open hood. There are also shots of the the unwashed 2014 Brickyard Grand Prix winning Viper GTS-R race car and a model that looked suspiciously like the vehicle that delighted crowds at the 1992 North American International Auto Show.

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So long… #Viper

A post shared by @ ralphgilles on

These were followed by a series of stills where the final production unit progresses further down the line until almost out of sight. Gilles confirmed the red Viper was the last one, specifying that Dodge would be holding onto it for the company’s heritage collection.

The comments section of the Instagram post was loaded with questions as to why FCA’s supercar wouldn’t persist like the Corvette (and why Dodge decided to discontinue it in the first place). Some argue the Viper’s hard-edged, almost brutally retro take on sports cars made the public less willing to adopt it. Automotive grandpa Bob Lutz even speculated that the vehicle’s no-frills approach to motoring allowed it to be outclassed by Dodge’s own Challenger and Charger Hellcat variants.

However, the practical reason is that it cannot adhere to domestic safety standards. The Viper’s tight cabin doesn’t provide enough room for federally mandated side curtain airbags — a point Gilles reiterated on social media.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted at this year’s Detroit auto show that the Viper could return eventually, but made no promises. Instead, he indicated he wasn’t fond of the supercar possessing a dedicated platform and suggested a future model might share its framework with a preexisting model — which is an absolute bummer. But, with FCA keen on streamlining itself for sale, any hope of seeing a new Viper soon would be a prayer wasted.

It isn’t fiscally sound for Dodge to continue production on the snake. But that doesn’t make the loss of an American icon any less tragic. The Viper never made for a good daily driver, but it made for a phenomenal supercar and was one of the few you could purchase for under six figures. Gauche, rowdy, and unlike any other car on the planet, Dodge made something exceptional. It lacked the sophistication and subtle elegance of a Porsche 911 but was more than willing to bloody its nose at the track — especially the ACR version.

Sure, it may have had side exhaust pipes that baked the sills to a point where it required a plaque warning occupants not to touch them when exiting the vehicle. It may have also had a comically large and prehistoric V10 engine devoid of electronic assistance and a punishingly stiff suspension. But it was still a remarkable car and we may never again see anything quite like it.

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34 Comments on “R.I.P. Snake: Dodge’s Final Viper Rolled Down the Assembly Line Yesterday...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I remember Car and Driver referring to the original as sounding like a very angry UPS truck although they did love that there was enough torque they’d likely just leave the transmission in 3rd gear for around town driving.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    “we’re hoping this is just another three-year hiatus for the snake. But, as production is ending infinitely”

    …then your hopes are forever dashed.

    “Indefinitely,” however…

  • avatar
    ajla

    The world of the Viper is gone.

    I’d rather see it rest in peace than come back as platform-engineered turbo V6 Maserati with racing stripes.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “However, the practical reason is that it cannot adhere to domestic safety standards.”

    No, the real reason is that sales were abysmal. It’s very hard to justify sustaining a product like this at the rate of 600/year, which corresponded exactly to the niche of a niche customer who didn’t mind driving a prehistoric car with no amenities.

    For most people, it’s easier to spend the same money on a Z06 that is more civilized and possesses roughly the same performance.

    The Viper is what the Internet wants; the Corvette is what paying customers want.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This.

      What do you buy: a $126,000 Viper or a $75,000 Corvette that offers about 97% of the Viper’s performance, functions nicely as a daily driver, has a modern, up-to-date interior and all the latest safety gadgets, and doesn’t require you to medal in olympic gymnastics to get in and out of? Not even a question, far as I’m concerned.

      But in any case, at the Viper’s price point, the real competition was actually the 911. That’s an even bigger no-brainer.

      Hate to see this car go…but there’s no question why it’s on its’ way out. It got murdered in the marketplace.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Personally, I assume that it’s a combination of the two factors.

      I wager SRT found it difficult to justify the expense of an engineered solution for the side curtain airbag problem in the face of the low sales. Changes to the body structure (be it a revised cabin to accommodate side curtain airbags, or simply removing the top and making a roadster) of a vehicle require not insignificant capital investment and extensive testing to satisfy regulatory requirements that can’t be supported by boutique volume at mass market pricing.

      But that’s just, like, my opinion man.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        That’s just it. The excellence of the C7 Corvette was really the nail in the Viper’s coffin. Not to mention the Viper never had an available automatic, whereas 75% of Corvettes are sold with automatics. The Viper could duke it out with C5 and C6 Corvettes, but the C7 is in a league with 911s, V8 Vantages, and in some trims Huracans and 488s.

        • 0 avatar

          Mandolorian hit it no auto. That pretty much settled it’s fate.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          I know the purists decry the notion, but there was great name-equity in the Viper, and diluting it into a less expensive, Corvette-type of softer riding, grand tourer might have improved sales enough to keep it around. Besides the aforementioned automatic, a much cheaper V8 version could have done wonders for upping the sales volume.

          But it looks like FCA didn’t really have much interest in the Viper. The new halo car to bring in showroom traffic is the Challenger Demon.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          And the ACR duked it out with 918s and Mclarens, not those pedestrian supercars.

          The cheap ‘vette is only 460hp.

          When the factory race program was ended the price of the Viper started at $85k for 640hp. Base price for a Z06 is $74,495. These would be close in performance. Pay the extra for an ACR and you get to another league of performance.

          No auto is a killer for the gold chain crowd.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Pour one out.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    With FCA streamlining itself for sale, Viper as intellectual property is more valuable than Viper as physical reality.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Much publicity over the years, and very few sales.
    Great fun for the road testers, and a car nobody wants to drive otherwise.
    I think originally it was a place for Chrysler to accommodate the “jobs bank” surplus drones floating around Motown.

  • avatar
    srh

    The Viper, like most of the hopped-up dodges, are cars that I like to fantasize about owning but would never actually own.

    While I wouldn’t care if the Hellcat(s) were discontinued tomorrow, though, I am sad to see the Viper go. I guess because it came into existence right as I reached the age where I started ogling cars. I seem to recall learning about the Viper and the Jag XJ220 in the same issue of Car and Driver, or Road and Track, or whatever car mag. I had pictures of both torn out of the magazine and hanging in my room.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Loss Leaders are so ’90s. FCA can’t afford it. I hear in my head Eddie Murphy’s “…you can’t aaffffffffoooorrd it…”!

    GM pushed the Corvette through 12K units a year and might actually be profitable now at 30K+ units annually. But that’s GM.

    Ford readily admits the Ford GT is in no way profitable.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I’ve eulogized the Viper here many times, outlined the reasons why it was and is misunderstood and underappreciated, and why I intend to keep mine forever, but today all I can say is this is a sad day. We shall never see a car like it again.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Where did all of the Vipers go?

    It seems like 15 years ago, a Viper sighting was pretty common on the road. Now it’s incredibly rare.

    Do owners now just store them away in garages hoping someday they will be worth big bucks with zero miles on them?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I worked on the shoot for the then-new Dodge Ram truck in the early Nineties. No expenses spared on THAT shoot, I can assure you: Execs were being choppered in and out daily from downtown Calgary. My point is that, apart from the two trucks used in the commercial, there was a Viper in attendance, too. Only the rig driver and the ‘precision driver’ could operate any of the ‘star cars’. The Viper DID sound like a UPS van – until the driver stood on the throttle. No windows; no roof; no problem. Great car and great memories.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Good friend of mine owns two Vipers. I’m sure he’ll continue to hold onto both. While she wasn’t refined, it was one hell of a ride every time we took one of them out. Brutal.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    :-(

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Good thing they’re keeping it for their collection. FCA saved itself an embarrassing headline 2 years or so down the road. “Last New Viper, Two Years Old, Finally Sells.”

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    It had been, up until now, the Grey’s Anatomy of cars: many are surprised they’re still being made, it enjoys a fiercely loyal following…and Katherine Heigl’s career has been in a nosedive since she stopped driving it.

  • avatar

    Maybe it can share a platform with a front-engined Ferrari, replacing the V12 with a ‘Murican V10?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Exactly 40 years after The King died. Yeah, Elvis would have owned one. He would have parked it next to his Stutz Blackhawk.

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