Would You Crush a Viper?

3 years ago

We’re not talking about poisonous snakes, here. We’re talking about the Dodge Viper, an American sportscar known best for its extremely high performance.

Apparently, nearly 100 of these now-legendary cars were donated to schools around the country for use in educational programs when they were new, and now that the students are done wrenching on them, it’s time for the cars to be crushed into cubes of scrap metal. Journalists at RoadAndTrack and Jalopnik -- and car fanatics -- are having conniptions about it. Why do they care so much about cars that are now more than 20 years old?

Beloved among racing enthusiasts, the iconic Dodge roadster was first sold in 1992. The car was in no way luxurious: In fact, it didn’t even have exterior door handles, side windows, or a roof. Although a soft top was available, it was designed primarily for indoor vehicle storage, and woe to any person caught driving it in the rain.

Pshaw! Creature comforts didn’t matter: under its curvy hood, the Dodge Viper boasted a 400-horsepower 7.9-liter V-10 engine that could accelerate to 60 mph in 4 seconds, and was capable of hitting a top speed of 180 mph. According to Wikipedia, “Its large tires allowed the car to average close to 1 lateral g in corners, placing it among the elite cars of its day. However, the car proved tricky to drive at high speeds, particularly for the unskilled.” Apparently, these roadbound Vipers had a bite of their own.

Several generations of the racy roadster have been developed since those first cars went on the market, all of them building on the wicked Viper’s racing prowess. Unfortunately, 93 of the first-generation cars are about to become scrap metal, and here’s why.

According to a statement from Chrysler, “As part of the donation process, it is standard procedure -- and stipulated in our agreements -- that whenever vehicles are donated to institutions for education purposes that they are to be destroyed when they are no longer needed for their intended educational purposes. With advancements in automotive technology over the past decade, it is unlikely that these vehicles offer any educational value to students. Chrysler Group fully understands and appreciates the historical significance of the Viper and is very active in preserving many of its legendary models and designs for historic purposes however, none of these vehicles fit into this category.”

By the way, for those who might say otherwise, Chrysler claims it “has no record of any legal proceedings involving Dodge Viper vehicles donated to educational institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits.”

What do you think? Are those boy racers at Jalopnik and MotorAuthority being too protective of their heritage horsepower?


Jody DeVere
AskPatty.com, Inc.

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