Chrysler confirmed in March that it had received three offers for its Dodge Viper sports car business, and that it was currently doing due diligence ahead of making a final decision, but documents unearthed in the company's bankruptcy filing reveal that no 'serious offers' were ever really tendered. Even at a bargain-basement price of $10 million for the 392,000 square foot Viper plant, there were no takers.
"We received no purchaser interest," said CEO Bob Nardelli. "The market for such assets is extremely depressed at this time." The best offer was a $5.5 million low-ball from Devon Motor Works (DMW), which sought to purchase the entire Viper brand, lease the Conner Avenue Viper plant for a year and take on none of the brand's debts or liabilities.
The ailing Detroit carmaker did not reveal who made the supposed offers at the time, nor the likely time that a decision would be made, but Chrysler vice-president Jim Press said any sale would be delayed by the then-ongoing viability plan submission to the U.S. Congress. Since then, no further headway has been made on the sale, according to Chrysler's court documents, reports Automotive News.
Previously, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli confirmed that the sale had gathered interest from both international and North American parties but wasn’t willing to reveal any names. Some of the firms that were rumored to be interested in the sale included specialty performance shops Saleen and Roush, which would have had the capacity to accommodate the Viper’s handmade production process.
Other details unearthed in Chrysler's bankruptcy documents indicate the Viper brand could disappear altogether within a year. The planned sale of Viper will likely not happen at all, especially with the lack of interest and any ability to get a fair price for it.
DMW’s plan was to use the facility to start production of its own GTX sports car, most likely based around the Dodge Viper platform. The company still plans to produce the car, which is previewed in these official renderings, and will eventually attempt to break the Nurburgring’s production car lap record before unveiling it at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours in August.
Nardelli has previously stated that Chrysler will act in the best interests of the Viper's supporters and fans, who understandably would want to see the brand spared from being axed altogether. But at the same time, Chrysler will do what it must to get out of bankruptcy and back into operation.
The brand's sale, or death, would mark the end of a 17-year run of the Viper at Chrysler, with the first model having debuted in the 1992 model year. The company just produced its 25,000th Viper in March of this year, and celebrated the event with festivities that included the launch of the track-focused Viper SRT10 ACR.
Some of the assets of the current Chrysler operation could be 'left behind' in the portion of the company that is to be effectively eliminated - i.e. not brought forward into the 'new' Chrysler-Fiat pairing. Viper could be one of those assets, left behind and liquidated with all the rest of the dross.