Dodge Viper Factory to Close August 31
The Conner Avenue Assembly Plant employs more than 80 people who built each Viper by hand.
The Dodge Viper has had a good run, but rather than redesign it to meet new safety regulations that go into effect September 1, Fiat Chrysler has chosen to discontinue Dodge's halo car after 25 years. Automotive News reports that the Conner Avenue plant in Detroit, where every Viper has been hand-built since 1995, will shut down on August 31.
Originally a Champion Spark Plugs plant, Chrysler bought the Conner Avenue facility in 1995 and moved Viper production there from the Mack assembly plant soon after. This plant also built the Plymouth and Chrysler Prowler, as well as the Viper's V-10 engine since 2001. It is FCA's smallest plant in North America, employing just over 80 people.
FCA expects to move Conner Avenue workers to positions at other plants rather than lay them off. But nowhere else will they continue the process of building and painting cars by hand, as they did for the Viper. Many workers have endured layoffs during slow sales rather than transfer out because they enjoyed and took pride in their work on the Viper. Dodge sold just 630 Vipers last year, down 8.7 percent from 2015. These low numbers, plus the amount of work it would take to implement larger side curtain airbags (the same issue causing a hiatus in Grand Caravan availability), were the main factors in FCA's decision to stop building the Viper now.
Though the Viper has lingered on, cars such as the Challenger Hellcat and Demon have already effectively replaced it in the halo car role. As impressive as they are, they still can't replace the distinctive V-10 rumble, and especially the Viper's racing pedigree. While we understand FCA's reasons for discontinuing the Viper, we will most certainly miss it.