A funny thing happened on the way to the junkyard.
Students in the automotive technology program at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia, Wash., were seriously bummed in March when the school was contacted by Chrysler and ordered to crush the Dodge Viper supercar the company had loaned it in 2007.
The two-seat coupe was a prototype, just the fourth one built when the Viper was developed in 1992, and it wasn’t street legal. Automakers often give cars like this to educational programs when they’re done with them, but they retain ownership and legal responsibility due to the complex regulations covering pre-production cars.
The school used the prototype for classes, and also as a promotional tool for the auto tech program, displaying the eye-catching blue hunk of American awesomeness at recruiting events.
“The car is what inspires the students to graduate from the program,” said SPSCC graduate Stormy Hudson. “For students that are classic/antique enthusiasts like myself, it means that much more.”
But when Chrysler determined that the Viper prototype (along with several similar cars at other institutions) had reached the end of its useful life, it gave SPSCC two weeks to destroy it, because it is very difficult to transfer ownership and liability for this type of vehicle to another party, and Chrysler didn’t want it back.
Hudson and others weren’t happy with the news, so they started “Operation Save the Vipers,” an online petition that in a few days garnered nearly 10,000 signatures and plenty of national media attention that, as is often the case, didn’t last very long.
But the car has.
Faced with this popular uprising, Chrysler granted the Viper a stay of execution as it entered into negotiations with the school to try to find a way to hand it over permanently. That hasn’t happened yet, but for now the car is safe, sound and ready to greet new students when fall classes begin in a few days.
A Chrysler representative told FoxNews.com, “we continue to pursue an amicable resolution of the matter.”
Said Hudson, “If I had a choice, I would make that Viper the mascot for the automotive program.”
Sounds like it’s time for another petition.
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.