As FCA works on getting the Connor Avenue Assembly Plant prepped and ready to become the next museum for the company, part of the work that needs to be done is a housecleaning of sorts at the plant. For years, this was the home of the Viper, and the Plymouth Prowler neo street rod that added credit to Chrysler’s reputation in the late 1990s for putting concept cars into production, no matter how radical they were. With 400,000 square feet of building to prepare, it was inevitable that the Viper team would have some keepsakes laying around…posters, banners, maybe even the occasional part laying around that didn’t make it out the door. If it were our garage, it’d be clutter, but in the case of FCA, this is memorabilia and they know that someone will want it. With that in mind, FCA is holding an auction, selling off what they find.Without a doubt, items such as signed hoods and wings, plant banners and the “Home Of Viper” banner that was over the front door are going to command big figures, but other items, such as prototype sketches like the one above (second-generation Eagle Vision, maybe?) and racetrack banners are going for reasonable money, and items such as stickers, keychains and oddly enough, Viper-branded baby clothes are up for easy cash. If you can find a way to use a Viper onesie for a six-month-old, power to you, but to have a concept sketch from Connor Avenue, signed, hanging in the garage? Now that’s something worth noting.
United Way to Benefit from Viper Memorabilia Auction
Production of the Dodge Viper came to an end on Aug. 31, 2017, and with that, the decommissioning of the plant began. As the assembly line was dismantled, office furniture removed and rooms cleaned out in preparation to repurpose the facility into meeting and display space, hundreds of pieces of Viper memorabilia, as well as a few items related to the Plymouth Prowler, were identified and salvaged. The decision was made to auction these items off to benefit the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
“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,” said Mike Tonietto, former Conner Avenue Assembly Plant Manager and auction coordinator. “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,” said Tonietto. “This is a great way to share some one-of-a-kind pieces involving these iconic vehicles while at the same time supporting an organization that does so much good in the community.”
After the Company’s Historical Services group selected the items that would be kept for display or archival purposes, more than 1,800 items remained – including eight signed hoods; more than 500 pieces of art, prints, signage and posters; and an assortment of Viper merchandise from key chains to apparel to coffee mugs – that will be available for auction.
One of the many available pieces of art is a sketch of the Viper GTS with portraits of the three former Chrysler executives responsible for its development – Bob Lutz, President and CEO; Tom Gale, Vice President – Product Design and International Operations; and Francois Castaing, Vice President – Vehicle Engineering and General Manager of Powertrain Operations. The limited edition print – number 14 of 300 – features the signatures of the three executives along with an authentic blue Viper GTS emblem.
The auction goes live on March 21 and will run through April 13. A full list of items with descriptions and bidding instructions are available at https://auction.unitedwaysem.org/.
All items are being auctioned in “as is” condition. Some items have minimum starting bids, while others have a “Buy it Now” option. Larger items will need to be picked up directly from the Conner facility by April 30, 2018. Smaller items will be shipped directly to the highest bidder. The auction is open to qualified bidders outside of the U.S., but winning non-U.S. bidders will be responsible for shipping as well as customs taxes and duty on any purchases.