On Saturday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) celebrated the end of the Dodge Viper’s 25-year run with a parade that saw 200 Vipers snake their way up Woodward Avenue as part of the city’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
Viper production halts at the end of August with the closing of the Conner Avenue factory in Detroit that has built the car since 1995.
The event was an acknowledgement of the mark the car has made on the auto industry, as well as the contributions of the workers who have built the iconic two-seater. FCA said the closure will result in 87 layoffs, though many employees will move to jobs in the company’s other factories.
That plant has cranked out more than 25,000 Vipers over more than two decades, save for three years following Chrysler’s 2009 financial troubles.
Once the company had its feet back under it, Dodge had high hopes for a redesigned Viper in 2013, projecting sales of about 1,500 cars per year, but a disappointing showroom performance prompted FCA to cut the car’s Canadian price by about seven percent. The Viper’s fate was sealed in 2015 when a new contract with the United Auto Workers union didn’t include plans for any new production at Conner Avenue.
When the plant closes, it will leave just one auto manufacturing facility entirely within Detroit city limits: GM’s Detroit facility straddles the border with neighbouring Hamtramck.
Saturday’s festivities began on Saturday with a party at the Conner Avenue plant, followed by the parade, led through town by a police escort to the M1 Concourse race track in Pontiac, Michigan.
There, the cars were the highlight of the second annual Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge event, a day of drag racing, thrill rides, and a chance to meet the stars of the Roadkill video series produced by Motor Trend and HOT ROD magazines.
It was a fitting end for a car that counts as a true American exotic, with its V10 powerplant and performance not for the faint of heart.