Dodge Viper Wins An Unlikely Award

dodge viper wins an unlikely award – DOC580054

The Dodge Viper has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. Not that it’s going to matter from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ perspective, but as the automaker prepares to once again send the Viper into the disabled list, it wouldn’t hurt for the model to get a little bit of shine, would it? How surprising is it then that the provider of good news is the Detroit Public Library’s National Automotive History Collection, which has named the Viper its most “Collectible Vehicle of the Future” for 2016.

For those not familiar with this award, the NAHC is basically predicting that models of the Viper launched in 2015 will fetch hefty sums in future auctions. The irony is overflowing on this one as the current state of the Viper doesn’t necessarily scream “future collector’s item.” On the contrary, the sports car’s paltry sales numbers are being blamed as the biggest reason why FCA is discontinuing the model for the time being. And yet, the NAHC thinks that the 2015 Viper has the potential to command frenzied bidding wars in future auctions?

Granted, the NAHC is a legitimate organization that touts itself as having “more than 600,000 documents” related to the auto industry, making it “the world’s most extensive public archive of automotive information.” The group didn’t earn that distinction by throwing out ridiculous statements and the NAHC Board of Trustees pays careful attention on the pulse of the industry to determine which model it thinks has a chance to be a future collectible.

But the Viper? It sounds silly to think about a model languishing in the sales charts being hailed as a future collectible. Even more perplexing, given the model’s tumultuous history since the turn of the century, is that the NAHC has bestowed the Viper the award three times before: 2003, 2007, and 2013. Maybe it deserved those awards at some point in its history, but there’s little indication about the 2015 Viper that points to it becoming a future must-have in any car collection.

Maybe the NAHC will be proven right 50 or so years from now. But today? It’s admittedly kind of hard to wrap our heads around the organization’s decision.

Why it matters

To say that this is an interesting choice would be a tremendous understatement of interesting choices. I have nothing against the Dodge Viper, and in an ideal world where a lot of people still gravitate towards gas-guzzling, non-Italian, V-10-powered sports cars, I’d like to think that the Viper would be in much better shape than the shape it’s in now.

But, if I’m being honest, I don’t see any reason why the 2015 Viper deserves to be called the “Collectible Vehicle of the Future” for 2016, especially when I think there are other cars that deserve that tile more. The first model that immediately comes to mind is the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, a model that’s not only far more popular than the Viper is today, but it’s also been popular enough that it has already overtaken the Chevrolet Camaro as the second-best selling muscle car behind the Ford Mustang. Who knew that would happen?

Yes, I think the Challenger Hellcat deserves this award more than the Viper and to that point, the Mustang could just as easily deserve it too for continuing its reign atop the muscle car sales numbers. Recent controversies notwithstanding, a stronger case can even be made for the Tesla Model S, another previous winner of the award.

I don’t want to rain on the NAHC’s parade here because I recognize the group’s place in the auto industry. It didn’t get to where it is now because it didn’t represent the right things. But as far as naming the Viper the “Collectible Vehicle of the Future” for 2016? That’s a decision I can’t get on board with.

Who knows, I may be wrong in the future where a 2016 Viper ACR gets sold for $50 million in an auction 100 years from now. But right now, I just don’t think that future’s going to exist.

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