MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- If you love cars, you have probably heard about the Dodge Vipers. Chrysler ordered almost 100 to be crushed. Turns out, there is at least one in the Milwaukee area. FOX6 News found it, but it was already too late.
“It was a very fun, beautiful, fast-performance car,” said David Schwid, an automotive instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
He’s referring to the 2000 Dodge Viper that MATC’s Mequon campus used to have.
The car was one of 93 Vipers that Chrysler loaned to automotive schools across the country for teaching purposes only.
Schwid says the Viper was the 18th to roll off the production line that year.
“You can see the appeal,” he said as he showed us photos of the vehicle. “It’s a sporty car.”
South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Washington got one of the Vipers, too. Then they got a shock. Chrysler told them they had to crush the car.
“Like taking the family pet and destroying it in front of the kids,” said South Puget Sound Professor, Norm Chapman.
MATC got the same order.
Schwid says he was required to watch as the Viper was torn apart and put into a chipper.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re doing this,” he remembers thinking at the time. “Look at those cars, we’re never going to see them again.”
But Schwid also acknowledges, it’s not unusual for carmakers to order a car to be destroyed. Many of the cars the mechanic students work on at MATC are “pre-production.” That basically means the automaker was still perfecting the vehicles. In fact, the Dodge Viper the school got was not “street legal.”
“Nobody can drive it on the road without Chrysler being liable, for the fact that anything can happen,” MATC student David Koehler explained.
It has been reported that two of the Vipers -- somewhere in the country -- got into accidents and Chrysler was sued, prompting the crushing order, but the company denied that was the case, telling FOX6 in a statement: “Chrysler Group has no record of any legal proceedings involving Dodge Viper vehicles donated to educational institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits.”
MATC tells FOX6 that it's standard operating procedure to crush a pre-production car after 10 years, because they basically lose their educational value after that. Still, it was tough to see the Viper go.
“It was awesome,” said Anthony, an MATC student who declined to give his last name. Fellow student Chris Thompson said, from an engineering standpoint, the Viper “certainly stands out.”
Before the school’s Viper was hauled away, MATC students gathered in front of the car for a photograph. “Sad, pretty sad,” said Koehler, who was one of the students there that day.
Why not donate the car to a museum?
Here’s what the company said in a statement to FOX6: “Chrysler Group fully understands and appreciates the historical significance of the Viper and is very active in preserving many of its legendary models and designs for historic purposes however, none of these vehicles fit into this category.”