If you’ve been paying attention to any of the automotive news today, even reported here, you know that the car community is up in arms over a number of Vipers donated to colleges for educational purposes having been ordered crushed by Chrysler. While we understand everyone’s plight based on an enthusiast standpoint, we thought it only fair to give you both sides of the story. After all, everything that’s been reported isn’t quite the whole truth.
After the original Viper crushing story broke yesterday morning, we received a press release from Chrysler, which is also posted on their media site and watermarked with all the tell-tale signs that it is true Chrysler communication. Per this release, Chrysler paints a different story of the Vipers being ordered destroyed. From this, we’ll let you make your own conclusions but just as we said, in the spirit of telling the whole story, it’s important you get both sides.
According to the release, Chrysler donated the Vipers in question to educational institutes for training purposes about 10 years ago. Per the contract written up with each school when given the famed sports car, Chrysler requested that once the technology of the cars had been far surpassed in the industry, the vehicles were to be destroyed.
“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,” the press release states.
“With advancements in automotive technology over the past decade, it is unlikely that these vehicles offer any educational value to students.”
The press release also goes on to address the alleged $250,000 worth of one “pre-production” Viper being considered as part of the destruction process, stating, “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.”
And, in a final note, Chrysler addresses what some would consider the ticking time bomb in all of this- the allegation of the educational Vipers being ordered to be crushed because a couple cars were taken from their educational facilities and driven, resulting in millions of dollars worth of lawsuits. Their statement reads, “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. “
With so many people in an uproar, we expect everyone to take both sides of the story in their own ways. However, we would like to point out a few things as “food for thought” if you will.
One is that pre-production or not, the Vipers in question were donated for educational purposes. This means that once they serve no educational purpose, they can’t be sold for profit, given away to someone who expresses interest in the car, or used for purposes other than those designated in the contract with Chrysler. Another is that though some enthusiasts would prefer to see the Vipers go to museums rather than crushed, the question remains what museum is going to want a 22-year-old Viper that has been torn down and put back together, thrashed on a chassis dyno and undoubtedly nicked, scratched or dented by hundreds of hands over the last 10 years?
And finally, we’d like to leave you with this- most people would love to be handed the keys to a Viper, no matter its model year, and given the okay to do with it as they pleased. But in this case, we have to remember that Chrysler still maintains the responsibility for the donated vehicles and if they were to breech their own contract by allowing one or even all the schools to keep their donated Vipers and disperse them as they please, if one did indeed “get loose” and lead to damage, death and/or legal action, it would be Chrysler’s rear end on the line, not the schools. As a major automotive manufacturer, would you want that on your hands?