The Conner Avenue (Dodge Viper) Assembly Plant

viper plant

Detroit’s Conner Avenue plant (oddly enough, located on Conner Street) has been used for small-scale specialty production since 1996, producing the Dodge Viper from that time and the Plymouth Prowler from 1997-2002 (during part of that time, it was badged as a Chrysler).

Viper

In 1955, Chrysler bought the factory, which had been opened in 1966 to make Champion spark plugs, to move Dodge Viper production from New Mack and to start Plymouth Prowler assembly there. The Prowler started production in May 1997.

The exterior photos were taking by Carolyn Allmacher; the large interior photo is from Chrysler and the small ones are from Brian K. Richardson.

viper factory - conner ave

In October 24, 2007, Dodge issued the following:

Workers hand-build the new Dodge Viper SRT10 and its 600-horsepower V-10 engine. Using 26 work stations on a 705-foot-long assembly line, 48 hand-picked UAW workers (with over 300 hours of training each) assemble each vehicle [in 2005, there were 144 total workers in the plant including engine assemblers]; the Vipers remain stationary for up to 49 minutes per work area as the craft people make adjustments. This eliminates traditional repair stations.

back of the plant

Each Dodge Viper is primarily made of seven component modules (instrument panel, fuel tank, suspension corner modules, wheels and tires, cooling module, lift gate assembly and full dressed engine). Except for the engine, all modules are shipped to the Conner facility from other locations. Stamping, casting and welding all take place off-site with body panels arriving already painted.

Originally, the Viper was made of around 50 component modules shipped from locations throughout North America. Stamping, casting, painting and welding still took place off-site, and body panels arrived already painted. Complete instrument panels were supplied with the gauges tested and set in place. Engines were, until May 2001, built and tested at the Mound Road engine plant.

Viper assembly plant signs

In a process normally performed only on race cars, an alignment machine sets caster and camber at normal ride height, and then at jounce and at rebound (upward and downward travel of suspension). The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 is the only U.S. production vehicle set up for such alignment at the factory; it uses a machine that aligns all four wheels off their wheel hubs, moving them up and down in their suspension travel and setting alignment in three different positions.

UAW sign

The V-10 engine is built next to the vehicle on a 24-station circular line by nine workers who assemble and certify each engine before they are installed in the chassis.

conner avenue plant

Each Dodge Viper is tested in place on the assembly line using rollers. At this stage the vehicle is a rolling chassis without its body panels. During this “roll test” it is (and has been, from the start) driven through all six speeds of the transmission, up to (a simulated) 90 mph.

brendan burke and trey byrum

trey and the team

Dodge Viper Assembly Photos

viper

dodge plant

building dodge viper cars

Plymouth Prowler Assembly Photos

plymouth prowler

Chrysler Prowler

prowler

assembly plant

cars

plymouth cars

another prowler car

building prowlers

conner avenue assembly plant

more cars

more assembly workers

more car building

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1997 Conner Avenue assembly plant data

  • FLOOR SPACE: 392,000 square feet; site spans 27 acres
  • CAPACITY: 13 Vipers/day, 20 Prowlers/day (one shift). Annual capacity: 3,000 Vipers, 5,000 Prowlers.
  • STAFF: 248 employees. Union employees are in local 212. 6,000 training hours were scheduled for 1998.
  • ANNUAL PAYROLL: $11.1 million (annual taxes: around $700,000)
  • ROBOTIC AND CONVEYORS: None

The future of the plant is unknown, as Viper production ends.

More Viper production information | Dodge Viper | Plymouth Prowler

25 Years of Dodge Vipers at Allpar

2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10

Viper plant

How Dodge Vipers are built • Plastic and resin body parts • Conner Avenue Plant • 2013 Viper Event

 

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