Viper’s fate dire over safety regulations as FCA mulls over a fourth generation

“If you build it, they will come,” so the adage goes. Well they did, and you didn’t, and now the Viper formerly-and-once-again-known-as-Dodge is on the bubble yet again. But not for the reason you might think.

A Motor Trend report surfacing from an interview with an FCA representative claims that the Viper will be discontinued in 2017 for failing to comply with federal safety standard FMVSS #226, or the one that says “show us your side curtain airbags.” Equipping them to the double-bubble coupe would limit what little headroom the car already has, and given the Viper’s, ahem, difficulties gaining a foothold in the competitive entry-level supercar market, it seems Sergio Marchionne and company would rather let Chrysler’s flagship ride into the sunset than attempt to fix the problem.

Of course, we’ve been hearing talk of the Viper’s demise for a long time now. The new FCA union contract signed late last year had no further activity at the plant where the car is built after 2017. And while the $15K price drop of late 2014 may have nearly tripled sales after a temporary halt in production earlier that year, it didn’t save the snake for good. The initiative to build a third generation Viper right as Detroit was dragging itself out of the depths of hell was ambitious to say the least, but you have to give FCA credit for trying.

All hope is not lost, however. Marchionne recently stated to AutoGuide that a fourth-generation may be in the cards, if FCA can utilize a pre-existing platform. Though this too raises red flags; while it’s hard to justify bespoke architecture for a car that isn’t financially viable, it might be even harder to justify a new Viper if it can’t land the appropriate underpinnings. Lately, mention has been made of the Alfa Romeo Giulia platform (which will also be shared with Dodge’s Charger and Challenger replacements), though such a move would likely mean no more V10, and thus an end for the Viper as we know it. Chrysler could ask Ferrari, though we could only assume how that would turn out. Maserati would be the most logical choice; the GranTurismo is probably the most suitable analog to the Viper in FCA’s portfolio, and a new one is tipped to arrive in two years’ time.

—By: Adam Ismail