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Attempted Viper Buyout Likely Occurred Before Chrysler’s Bankruptcy

2016 Dodge Viper ACR

We know that Chrysler put its Viper operations up for grabs as the company — and country — spiraled into economic disaster back in 2008, but the date of the V10-powered sports car’s near-salvation at the hands of investors is hazy.

James Glickenhaus, the actor, economic adviser and small-batch supercar builder, told TTAC’s Ronnie Schreiber that a group of buyers almost saved the Viper and its Detroit assembly plant, but the deal fell through. Which is why the Viper is going away, right about….now.

But Glickenhaus left out a key detail of his recollection — the date.

“A private group wanted to buy Viper and approached FCA who were receptive. This private group asked me for advice and I gave it to them,� Glickenhaus told TTAC. He added that he advised against the plan (which he describes as taking place several years ago), and the would-be deal ultimately went nowhere.

Glickenhaus can’t recall exactly when the wealthy investors approached the automaker, but Road Track believes it was between the 2008 Viper offering and the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. That means the proposed deal wasn’t with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but Cerberus, then-owner of Chrysler LLC.

Glickenhaus told RT that the group had the cash to back up any deal. “They were a bunch of enthusiasts and they thought there was value in the Viper name, the plant, and [the car itself],” he said.

Why didn’t Glickenhaus approve of the deal? “I thought that car was pretty tired, and it needed a revamping,” he told RT. “They would have come up with a better car . . . [but] they’d be spending a lot of money to do it.”

At the time of Chrysler LLC’s bankruptcy filing, the automaker claimed there wasn’t much interest in the Viper. Court documents later revealed that wasn’t the case. At least two groups approached Chrysler before May, 2009, but that’s ancient history now.

After the limited-edition 2017s leave the factory, it’s lights out for a model introduced by Lee Iacocca a quarter century ago. Three corporate makeovers since Iacocca told Bob Lutz to “Go build the damn thing, will ya?”, the company wants nothing to do with its halo car.

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