A fond(ish) farewell to the Dodge Viper

Fiat Chrysler plans to ax its moderately popular sports car in 2017. The Viper first rolled into showrooms in 1992, and its life story is far more complicated than any 23-year-old's should be.

Chrysler Group LLC/PrNewsFoto
The 2015.5 Dodge Viper GTS. FCA will stop production of the Viper in 2017.

If you've ever spent time on a farm, you know that all snakes are different. Some you want to keep around, others you want to kill.

The Viper (aka the Dodge Viper, the Dodge SRT Viper, the RT/10 Roadster, etc.) apparently falls in the latter category. According to Auto News, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to 86 the sports car in 2017. 


The Viper first rolled into showrooms in 1992, and its life story is far more complicated than any 23-year-old's should be. (Though don't try to tell any 23-year-old that.) A quick scan of Amazon reveals more than 550 books written about the Viper, from service manuals to coffee table tomes. 

The high-end sports car debuted at a curious time, just as the U.S. was emerging from a recession -- the same recession that led to the booming popularity of big-box discount stores like Walmart and the failed re-election bid of President George "It's The Economy, Stupid" Bush. But the Viper proved popular with enthusiasts nonetheless.

The Viper's fates have always followed those of Chrysler, as it became hitched to Daimler, divorced it, filed for bankruptcy, restructured, and most recently merged with Fiat. Each of those events affected the Viper, from the original engine that was designed by Lamborghini (which was then owned by Chrysler) to a long absence following the Great Recession.

The two consistent things about the Viper seem to be that (1) it never sold especially well, and (2) it never had a true break-out moment. Unlike, say, the Chevrolet Corvette, which is much older and far better known by mainstream consumers, the Viper has always remained a little obscure. 

Maybe that's been intentional. Maybe higher-ups always wanted the Viper to be a little hard to find, a little rare.

If so, they succeeded.


Details about the Viper's imminent demise come from FCA's newly forged agreement with the UAW. Plans for the Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit indicate that production of the hand-built sports car will end in 2017, and there's no replacement scheduled for the facility. Given FCA's near-term manufacturing goals, the plant's future remains uncertain.

Though in fairness, so does the future of the Viper. This wouldn't be the first time that the model has been killed off -- most recently from 2010 to 2013. When FCA CEO Marchionne or his successor find a proper merger or start feeling more comfortable with the company's long-term prospects, we wouldn't be surprised to see it relaunch.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A fond(ish) farewell to the Dodge Viper
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today