This is not how we imagined anybody would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Unless you want to be the person to fund Chrysler’s all-Viper museum, them’s the breaks.
Chrysler is taking St. Patrick’s Day quite literally. The man who drove the snakes out of Ireland has now imbued his spirit into the automaker that’s about to drive some snakes into the car crusher. And by snakes, we mean vipers – Dodge Vipers. Some very early Vipers are about to head to the great parking lot in the sky, and nobody is happy about it.
It’s not Chrysler’s fault, though; it’s been known for some time that these vehicles would meet a sad fate. The Vipers in questions were all loaned to education programs across the country, and it wasn’t even done recently; many of these cars were in tech-school garages for years, upward of a decade. Yet it’s only now that Chrysler has decided that these vehicles no longer serve a purpose, so naturally now is also the time that the outrage starts.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the Vipers in question were previously totaled, or ruined in some way, shape, or form. But that’s not the case here; these are pre-production Vipers with low mileage and (presumably) plenty of miles remaining before the engines turn their innards into various types of soup. One of them is the fourth Viper ever produced. That seems pretty noteworthy, no? At least enough to save it from the crusher?
Look on the bright side; next time you visit a junkyard for parts, you might get to see a Viper shaped like a small cube!
Nope, not according to Chrysler. In a response released to the media following the backlash when the story first broke, Chrysler said that there’s nothing anybody can do, and that the automaker will fulfill its intentions and crush every single one of the 90-or-so Vipers waiting for the calm sleep of death: “With advancements in automotive technology over the past decade, it is unlikely that these vehicles offer any educational value to students,” the statement says. “Chrysler is very active in preserving many of its legendary models and designs for historic purposes however, none of these vehicles fit into this category.”
And as much as we’d like to think that a Change.org petition would, well, change anything in this scenario, it won’t. Most of the vehicles that Chrysler sent to these schools were pre-production, meaning they lack things like emissions systems and components that contribute to the various safety systems in the vehicle. Simply put, many of these cars weren’t ever meant to be on the road, and instead of crushing them right away, the OEM wanted to give them at least some semblance of purpose.
But, as always, some people believe that there are other, more sinister elements at play behind the decision. A few different outlets are reporting that a couple of these pre-production Vipers were driven on the road (a big, big no-no) and ended up being involved in accidents. The resulting lawsuits are presenting a serious financial liability for Chrysler (now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), and in order to prevent any future lawsuits of a similar nature, Chrysler just said, “Screw it, trash them all.”
Whether or not it’s true, Chrysler denies it. “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.” Although it wouldn’t look good, scrapping cars to prevent future lawsuits, it seems a little silly that Chrysler would lie about it.
What it boils down to is just a sad situation. Nobody likes seeing cars meet an early demise, especially when the model is as important to this country as the Viper. However, there is literally no other use for these cars. Well, aside from private ownership, but even that carries significant risk (specifically liability issues if they’re taken on the road), and so to the crusher we go. Unless you want to be the person to fund Chrysler’s all-Viper museum, them’s the breaks.