This is one tough story to swallow, but as you’ll soon find out for yourself, it’s not all black and white. What happened is that, Chrysler ordered the destruction of 93 original, pre-production Dodge Vipers of the first generation model from the early 1990s that it had donated to various schools and universities across the States for educational and promotional purposes.
These cars were not street legal and weren’t up to spec, missing things like emissions controls and speed limiters.
What sparked Chrysler’s reaction were lawsuits that followed two road accidents involving these “educational” Vipers, which somehow “got loose” and ended up costing parent company Fiat “millions of dollars”, according to The Olympian.
The person who made the story public is Norm Chapman, automotive technology professor at South Puget Sound Community College, after the school was notified to crush their $250,000 pre-production Dodge Viper SRT with VIN #4.
However difficult it is to cope with the destruction of these rare cars, Scot Keller, chief curator at LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, who had previously been an executive at GM for many years, says that he understands where Chrysler is coming from.
“I’m an enthusiast but also a realist,” he told The Olympian. “In this case, I feel somewhat obligated to protect the industry. It’s easy to say, ‘Those doggone people in the industry.’ But having sat in a number of meetings on issues like this, I see the other side. It’s heartbreaking if you love cars, but it’s the only thing companies can do to keep the cars from getting out there and people potentially being harmed in them because they are not up to standards.”
Still, as pointed out in a piece from Justin Hyde on Motoramic, “punishing everyone for the mistakes of a few” also doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it now…
By John Halas
Thanks to Ben T. and Shane G. for the tip!