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Conner’s fate, the car collection, and a Viper/Prowler memorabilia auction

by David Zatz on

The Conner Assembly Plant,  home of the Viper (and once home of the Prowler), started out in 1966 making spark plugs. Now, the plant is being repurposed again — to show off 85 of Chrysler’s nearly-400 historic cars and trucks. To clear space, FCA is auctioning Viper memorabilia in a benefit for the United Way.

The facility, to be renamed Conner Center, is tucked away in Detroit, far from the highway but very close to Jefferson Avenue. Centralizing a large part of the vehicle collection will help with care and restoration, while making it possible to share the company’s history with employees.

The building has around 400,000 square feet of floor space; 77,000 square feet will be used for displaying vehicles, and the rest of storage, maintenance, and restoration. The administrative offices are being converted to meeting spaces. A press release stated:

It is expected that the facility, built in 1966, could also open its doors to the public in the future. The building should be available for use by internal groups and departments in the second quarter of 2018.

The collection includes racing cars, production cars, concepts, and trucks; the former Chrysler Corporation’s two main origin stories, AMC and Maxwell/Chrysler, are represented by a 1902 Rambler and a 1924 Chrysler made by Maxwell Motors.

The Viper memorabilia auction was made possible by the end of Viper production on August 31, 2017. Hundreds of pieces of Viper and Plymouth Prowler memorabilia, were identified and salvaged. Mike Tonietto, former Conner Avenue Assembly Plant Manager, is coordinating the auction:

We found things like signed sketches, photos and posters, not to mention all of the items that were part of the operations of the plant. As more and more items were discovered, the question became what do we do with them. Rather than store them somewhere where they would never be seen or, worse yet, disposed of, we decided to auction them off. We know there are lots of Viper – and a few Prowler – owners, fans and even employees around the world who will want to own a piece of automotive history.

After the Company’s Historical Services group chose which items they would keep for display and the archives, they had over 1,800 items including 8 signed hoods, hundreds of prints, signs, and posters, and merchandise from key chains to apparel to coffee mugs. One is a signed sketch of the Viper GTS with portraits of the three former Chrysler executives responsible for its development – Bob Lutz, Tom Gale, and Francois Castaing.

The auction goes live on March 21, and will run through April 13 at Larger items must be picked up from the facility, by April 30, 2018; smaller items will be shipped. The auction is open to qualified bidders outside of the United States, but they will be responsible for shipping, customs taxes and duty on any purchases.

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