The Dodge Viper will be leaving in calendar-year 2017, according to the proposed FCA-UAW contract. No product has been slated to replace it so far, though a surprise use for the Conner Avenue, Detroit, assembly plant might still be found.
The shutdown of the Conner Avenue plant has been rumored for some time, but this is the first concrete evidence that it, and the Viper, will both leave.
The Viper was never meant to stay around as long as it has, being built largely as the first test of the AMC engineering system at the old Chrysler Corporation. The test was obviously successful, and before the Viper was launched, work began on a new set of large cars, dubbed “LH,” which reversed the fortunes of the company. Hard on the heels of the successful Dodge Intrepid and other large cars were redesigned pickups, which tripled Dodge’s market share.
The plant has also made the Plymouth Prowler, a test case for building cars in aluminum. The expertise gained from the Prowler largely left the company when much of the development team went to Ford — according to team leader Chris Theodore, due to the Daimler takeover.
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