It’s a wrap on the Dodge Viper. FCA’s flagship supercar just rolled down the assembly line for the last time. In production from 1992 to 2010 and from 2013 through 2017, we’re hoping this is just another three-year hiatus for the snake. But, as production is ending indefinitely, we have no way of knowing if that will be the case.
What is assured is that the Viper’s current incarnation is over. Ralph Gilles, FCA’s head of design, posted a series of photos on social media documenting the vehicle’s last two production models as they made their way out of Detroit’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, the Dodge Viper’s home since 1995.
In the photos, Gilles posed with Dodge/SRT design chief Mark Trostle in front of the penultimate Viper’s open hood. There are also shots of the the unwashed 2014 Brickyard Grand Prix winning Viper GTS-R race car and a model that looked suspiciously like the vehicle that delighted crowds at the 1992 North American International Auto Show.
These were followed by a series of stills where the final production unit progresses further down the line until almost out of sight. Gilles confirmed the red Viper was the last one, specifying that Dodge would be holding onto it for the company’s heritage collection.
The comments section of the Instagram post was loaded with questions as to why FCA’s supercar wouldn’t persist like the Corvette (and why Dodge decided to discontinue it in the first place). Some argue the Viper’s hard-edged, almost brutally retro take on sports cars made the public less willing to adopt it. Automotive grandpa Bob Lutz even speculated that the vehicle’s no-frills approach to motoring allowed it to be outclassed by Dodge’s own Challenger and Charger Hellcat variants.
However, the practical reason is that it cannot adhere to domestic safety standards. The Viper’s tight cabin doesn’t provide enough room for federally mandated side curtain airbags — a point Gilles reiterated on social media.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted at this year’s Detroit auto show that the Viper could return eventually, but made no promises. Instead, he indicated he wasn’t fond of the supercar possessing a dedicated platform and suggested a future model might share its framework with a preexisting model — which is an absolute bummer. But, with FCA keen on streamlining itself for sale, any hope of seeing a new Viper soon would be a prayer wasted.
It isn’t fiscally sound for Dodge to continue production on the snake. But that doesn’t make the loss of an American icon any less tragic. The Viper never made for a good daily driver, but it made for a phenomenal supercar and was one of the few you could purchase for under six figures. Gauche, rowdy, and unlike any other car on the planet, Dodge made something exceptional. It lacked the sophistication and subtle elegance of a Porsche 911 but was more than willing to bloody its nose at the track — especially the ACR version.
Sure, it may have had side exhaust pipes that baked the sills to a point where it required a plaque warning occupants not to touch them when exiting the vehicle. It may have also had a comically large and prehistoric V10 engine devoid of electronic assistance and a punishingly stiff suspension. But it was still a remarkable car and we may never again see anything quite like it.