It was crushing news for students and faculty at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC.)
The automotive technology department at the Olympia, Wash., school was contacted by a Chrysler representative this week, and told that it had two weeks to destroy the donated 1992 Dodge Viper supercar it used in its classes.
The vehicle is a pre-production model, and not certified for street use. It’s common practice for such cars to be given to educational programs to teach students about car repair and engineering, but the automakers technically retain legal ownership of the vehicles. This particular car was originally given to nearby Shoreline Community College, but SPSCC took possession of it in 2007.
It was also the fourth Viper produced, and considered by some to have historical significance due to its early build and the fact that it features a hard top four years before the production version would be offered with one.
Ninety-two additional Vipers are understood to have been donated to other institutions, several of which have reported receiving the same orders from Chrysler to dispose of the cars.
South Puget Sound Community College wasn’t given an official reason for the request, but automotive-technology professor Norm Chapman tells FoxNews.com that the rumor going around was that two of the had “got loose” and were involved in accidents on public roads, leading to millions of dollars in claims against the automaker, so it was shutting down the program to protect itself from further liability.
At the request of FoxNews.com, Chrysler issued a statement saying that company “has no record of any legal proceedings involving pre-production Dodge Viper vehicles donated to education institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits.”
Instead, Chrysler says that the Vipers are being destroyed because “advancements in automotive technology over the past decade” have reduced the educational value of the vehicles to students.
While Chapman agrees the car isn’t as relevant of a teaching tool as it once was, he’s still sorry to see it go. The striking blue two-door is as eye-catching and exciting as it ever was, and often used to promote the automotive technology program. He says the engine runs great and it only has 394 miles on the odometer, mostly from dynamometer tests.
Students at the school have started a petition to save it and the rest of the Vipers, but Chapman says that unless a pardon is granted, the car will be disposed of in the time allotted.
He just hopes he won’t be the one that has to do it.
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.