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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oct 20: Viper.....another fond farewell?

Let's go back to 1989 and take a look at Chrysler Corporation. This Dodge Dynasty was the epitome of high style in the line and Chrysler's almost identical New Yorker carried the corporate flag. These cars were developments of the much loved (at one time, anyway) K car, Chrysler's saviour from earlier in the decade. But things were stale at this company and needed a shot in the arm. So, can you imagine the surprise, when this concept was unveiled at the '89 Detroit Auto Show........

Hard to believe that, lowly and conservative Chrysler, the maker of granddad's cars, could come up with this high style and hot looking sports car concept. Squint and you'd see lines reminiscent of the original Shelby Cobra, which this car was really supposed to reincarnate. Nice concept, but unlikely that it would ever see the light of day..........we thought.

But behind the scenes, the engineers were toiling away and with the help of a Lamborghini designed V10 (Chrysler owned Lambo at this time), a real car emerged. A real hot car!

Flash forward to 1992 and the first Viper drove off the production line........


Almost identical to the concept. A very rough, but powerful sportscar. How rough? Let me count the ways.......no roof, no side windows (just clear plastic that zipped in) and side pipes that would easily burn legs. Rough and ready, sure described this wild child. But it throbbed with over 400 HP (big for the day) and would do 0-60 in about 4.5 seconds, again, also very strong for the day.

Eventually a rudimentary roof was available, but the Viper became a "real" car when the GTS was introduced......

This was just as wild as the original, but with a few more creature comforts. The real benefit was that this car could now be raced and race it was what Dodge did. Their Viper showed up at the most famous venues, such as Le Mans, and usually defeated the other truly American sports car, the Corvette.......

......for awhile, at least. But the Viper was raw, being one of the last high powered sports cars to add traction control. Its owners liked its rawness and it was not unusual for a Viper owner to own more than one of these snakes. A cult following for sure. But the Viper's road was rough. Cancelled in 2010, it was intro'd again three years later......

Probably the best Viper yet, but it was at a disadvantage. The competition (the Corvette) had all the latest electronic aids and a price that was tens of thousands lower. And to top it off, the new for 2015 Hellcat engine in the Charger and the Challenger was substantially more powerful than the Viper's motor.

Viper sales were never high, but they dragged along in 2013, '14 (production was temporarily stopped) and so far in '15 (503 into September). Triple digit sales, do not spell success for a brand (actually numbers don't spell anything).

So, the recent announcement that beyond 2017, the Viper doesn't show up in any of Chrysler's future product plans, shouldn't come as a surprise. And certainly in the new Fiat/Chrysler combine, there is no room for a extremely low production halo car. Heck, even Ferrari sells about 7000 cars annually and is profitable.

So, as the Viper speeds off into the distance, let's applaud, the company that had the guts to make this unusual sports car. Might be a good time to try to scoop up one of the last ones. Drive it and watch it slowly increase in value. But, please drive it!

Until next time......


  1. I could never figure out why the Viper wasn't more successful. Maybe it couldn't quite fit into a category that was already filled to capacity with the Corvette. Maybe if it was priced more down to the Corvette's level it might have sold more. I always liked it but it was so far beyond my means that I could only view it from a distance. I'd like to see it succeed but maybe it's best to let it fade away...

  2. George, I believe what limited sales were the price and the fact that it was pretty raw, not a good daily driver like a Corvette. A friend took me out in one - what an "in your face" thrill ride. Definitely a different kind of car.