Viper’s yo-yoing lifeline looks to be finally secured after ailing parent company Chrysler said the sports car maker was no longer for sale. Rather than killing off its muscle-bound brand, last summer Cerberus-run Chrysler considered selling off the rights to the Viper, hoping to achieve around $10m for the Detroit assembly plant and brand equity to bolster its dwindling cash reserves and stave off imminent bankruptcy.
After an initial surge of interest from similar-minded companies like Roush and Saleen, curiosity nosedived along with the global economy. It all went very quiet…
So why the change of heart?
Mike Accavitti, Dodge’s new boss under the Fiat-led management team gave no official reason for the U-turn, other than to say: 'We’re extremely proud that the ultimate American-built sports car with its world-class performance will live on as the iconic image leader for the Dodge brand. Reason enough for car guys and gals around the world to rejoice. The Viper lives.'
Err, quite Mike. A tactical withdrawal from a disinterested market, then. Interestingly, the Viper plant was the first to fire up again after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, producing cars in June 2009 before closing down again.
Surely the market for 600bhp 8.4-litre V10 sports cars is a little small at the moment?
Non-existent might be a better way of describing it, which is why the cars will now only be built to order. The Connor Avenue factory will continue to make the 2009 model this year, and, barring no other changes, will switch to the new 2010 model in (you guessed it) 2010.
The Viper may have been a success when it first arrived in 1991 – over 25,000 have since found homes across the world – but this year only 118 models have been built, and there’s no word on how many of those are still loitering unsold and unloved on dealer forecourts.