Chrysler recently horrified Viper collectors and other car enthusiasts with the order to crush 93 original Dodge Vipers that were donated to educational institutions around the country. The old Vipers are used by budding auto mechanics for training.
On Thursday, March 6th, Chrysler issued a statement. “Approximately 10 years ago, Chrysler Group donated a number of Dodge Viper vehicles to various trade schools for educational purposes,” it said. “As part of the donation process, it is standard procedure — and stipulated in our agreements — that whenever vehicles are donated to institutions for education purposes that they are to be destroyed when they are no longer needed for their intended educational purposes.”
In the statement, Chrysler also said that the equipment on the cars are outdated and therefore no longer “offer any educational value to students.” The automaker also noted that it acknowledges the historical relevance of the Viper, but claims that the vehicles that are requested to be crushed are not among those that are historically relevant in terms of model or design.
Among the 93 vehicles to be destroyed is the blue 1992 Viper that is the fourth off the production line, as suggested by its VIN (#4), with a prototype hard top. The pre-production Viper has no speed limiter and its emissions controls were disabled to allow its ten-cylinder engine to make 600 horsepower. Much of the Viper’s wiring and interiors have been taken apart.
It is currently being used in automotive technology classes at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia, Washington. According to Norm Chapman, who has been an automotive professor at the school for 27 years, the Viper was originally donated by Chrysler to another community college in Washington and that college eventually gave the Viper to SPSCC in 2007. Chapman said that the car was primarily utilized for lessons about engine emissions and tuning.
On Tuesday, March 4th, Chapman received the email from Chrysler where the company ordered to destroy all Vipers that were donated for educational purposes within two weeks. He intends to comply with the automaker’s request, which is a common practice for donated pre-production vehicles. All schools that have received the Vipers are under contractual obligation to destroy the cars or return them, since Chrysler maintains ownership of the vehicles.
However, SPSCC students are not as willing as Chapman to let the beloved car go. They plan to save the old Viper, which is said to have an estimated value of $250,000, with an online petition. So far, the petition has 1,258 digital signatures. If the students do not get their way, they will not be the first to lose the said Viper to Chrysler. Reports say that Jay Leno made an offer in the 1990s but was turned down by the company.
Chapman surmised that the reason for crushing the donated Viper fleet is that two of the 93 road-illegal vehicles had been involved in accidents due to joyriding students. These accidents cost the parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles millions in liability costs. Chrysler denied this in the issued statement: “Chrysler Group has no record of any legal proceedings involving Dodge Viper vehicles donated to educational institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits.”
The original Viper was initially manufactured in 1992. It was powered by an 8.0-liter V10 engine that produced 400 horsepower. The model has since undergone four redesigns. Its current version is the SRT Viper, with a 640 horsepower 8.4-liter V10 engine.