Chrysler’s recent bankruptcy filing has left some of its current products exposed, including the iconic Dodge Viper sports car. That vehicle, first rolled out in 1992, is a halo car one that was created to advance the image of the company’s Dodge division.
A handcrafted vehicle, the Dodge Viper has always been sold in low numbers, only selling its 25,000th copy in 2008. Last year, Chrysler LLC announced that they would try to sell the Viper in a bid to raise much needed funds for the company, but that announcement didn’t bring forth a serious buyer and now, with the bankruptcy in place, the factory producing the Viper has been shut down.
Several Factories Closed, Not Part Of The Fiat Deal
Eight Chrysler factories are being left in bankruptcy which means that Fiat SpA, the buyer of Chrysler, can pick which assets it wants. The Viper assembly plant in Detroit was not included, meaning that support for the sportscar has ended at least for now.
Though the Dodge Viper will likely not emerge as part of the newly restructured Chrysler entity, there is a possibility that a new buyer could step forth to claim the car. Back in the 1960s when Studebaker went out of business, a pair of former Studebaker dealers purchased the rights to the Avanti, the company’s forward looking model introduced just a few years before. For the next two decades the timeless Avanti was built and sold to devotees.
Taking Its Cues From The Avanti
Like the Avanti, the Viper could be produced by just about anyone as the buyer of the car would gain rights to the name, body molds, parts, tools and everything related to the car. The new buyer would also assume responsibility of furnishing replacement parts for existing Vipers and would probably strike a warranty agreement with Chrysler to cover cars built when the Viper was under the Dodge umbrella. That agreement could be backed up by the federal government which has a similar plan already in place for Chrysler.
Thus, if the Viper does continue to live on, its new owner may have nothing to do with building cars, although my personal speculation is that an existing manufacturer will acquire full rights to the Viper and produce the car themselves. After all, a halo car is just that – one that bolsters the image of a brand, something that the V-10, 600 horsepower, 560 lb.-ft of torque Viper has done successfully for Dodge.