The End of an Era: Viper Ending Production

In 1998 a friend purchased a used 1994 Dodge Viper. I’d never seen a Viper in person, and the car took my breath away. Its glistening red paint and exotic curves were unlike anything I’d seen on a car before.

I got more than my fair share of seat time in that car and am even proud to say I got at least one “Viper Kiss,” the infamous burn on the calf from the exhaust pipes mounted just under the doors.

As time went on, my taste in cars shifted more toward German engineering, but the Viper always held a special spot in my car-loving heart.

Next month the Viper, which has had a tumultuous past couple of years, will cease production and fade into the past as a relic of a gas-fueled era.

The thing is, the Viper isn’t ending production because of its fuel type. The Dodge supercar is a victim of increasing safety standards.

Road and Track said,

As we already know, the Viper is ending production mainly thanks to low sales volume—but there’s another reason. New federal safety standards requiring side-curtain airbags come into effect September 1st, meaning Dodge couldn’t keep making the Viper even if sales were good, since it isn’t equipped with the feature.

Not only will the Viper die, its factory on Connor Avenue in Detroit will be shuttered as well, leaving 80 employees who hand-built the car to find work in other FCA factories. The shutdown is significant because of its historic Motor City roots.

The Automotive News tribute said,

Over the years, workers at Conner Avenue, many of whom transferred in from other FCA plants in the metro Detroit region, suffered frequent layoffs as Viper sales waxed and waned, but chose to remain at the plant because of its special nature first within Chrysler and later within FCA. The plant operated as a bespoke car assembly facility in terms of the hand-assembly and painting process each Viper underwent.

The Viper has come and gone over the years, so it’s reasonable to hold out hope that it’ll return again in the future. If it does, expect all the latest safety features and, most likely, an electric powertrain.

Goodbye, Viper Kiss.

Which American supercar would you buy?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

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