Students and teachers at a Washington community college are up in arms following an order from Chrysler
that it must destroy the pre-production Dodge Viper
that was donated to the school's automotive technology program ten years ago.
The Viper in question is said to be the fourth off the production line, based on its VIN, and has had its emissions controls disabled, allowing its ten-cylinder engine to produce 600 horsepower, according to a report from Yahoo! Autos
. As one of the first Vipers ever produced, the school's AT instructors claim it could be worth US$250,000 in a museum, while a local news report purports that Jay Leno
once tried to purchase the car, but the sale was prevented by Chrysler.
As pointed out by our friends at Autobytel
, though, there are a lot of things in this story that don't quite add up. Immediately noticeable from the news report embedded below – which shows the car at South Puget Sound Community College – is that the car in question is not a 1992 model. When the Viper went on sale in 1992, it was only available as an RT/10 with a (flimsy) soft top. But the car featured in the report from KING5 News
(inset image) is clearly a hardtop Viper GTS, which didn't enter production until 1996. And even if, as reported by a local newspaper
, the hardtop featured is a prototype, it doesn't explain the lack of another iconic feature of the first Vipers - their distinctive side pipes. This kind of pokes holes in the school's argument that this is the fourth Viper to ever roll down the line. At best, this appears to be a pre-production Viper GTS.
Regardless of the significance of the Viper, let's talk about why Chrysler is demanding it be crushed
. First, the car was donated for educational use. It's fair to say that a nearly 20-year-old car – especially one that lacks traction control or anti-lock brakes – isn't really the best instructional tool in today's high-tech, automotive landscape for budding mechanics. In fact, according to the Chrysler press release we've included below
, the college is under contractual obligation to return the car to Chrysler once it's outlived its educational usefulness.