According to details released from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) new contract with the United Auto Workers’ (UAW), the Dodge Viper may cease production in 2017. The agreement featured a product plan that includes the update of FCA’s eight-speed transmission, but the lack of a replacement for the current Viper once production ends.
The plan documents the move from a current “Gen1” transmission, which is used in many rear-wheel-drive based cars, crossovers and SUVs, to a new, more efficient “Gen2” eight-speed transmission.
Unveiled as a concept car in 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Viper was the antithesis of the vehicles Chrysler was producing at the time. In an attempt to pay off government loans granted in 1979, the company’s focus was on building boxy K-Cars like the Reliant and Aries along with segment establishing family haulers Caravan and Voyager.
This isn’t the first time the Viper’s fate has been in jeopardy of course. Commencing production in 1991 with revisions arriving in 1996, 2003 and 2008, the American sports car ceased production in 2010 due to Chrysler’s financial woes. The Viper returned in 2013 after a three year hiatus but sales have been slow to rebound with only 714 units being sold last year. No announcements have been made regarding a replacement or successor for the hand-built sports car built at the Conner Avenue plant in Detroit.
Unlike the Corvette, arguably its closest competitor, the Viper never became a mainstream vehicle, nor did it ever reach high production numbers. While the Corvette is available in far more docile trim levels which are quite civilized to drive, there has never been a Viper produced that wasn’t a handful for even the highest of precision drivers. Sporting a long, low and wide profile with a massive overhead valve V10 stuffed way out front, it was never intended to be a mass market vehicle for the everyman.
Given the current information provided within the recent manufacturing agreement with the UAW, production of a successor to the current Viper seems unlikely, however further details could emerge in the coming months that deem such speculation as just that. Here’s hoping that is the case.