Update: This story, originally published 1/14/2020, has been updated to reflect the results of this auction.
Earlier this week, we wrote about the auction of Lee Iacocca's Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country Convertible. While cool, it wasn't the only ex-Iacocca car to cross the block yesterday—Bonhams just sold the late Chrysler CEO's 1992 Viper, the first one to roll off the production line, for a whopping $285,000.
Yes, this is Dodge Viper #001. It remained in Iacocca's possession up until his death last year, covering only 6220 miles since leaving the Mack Avenue assembly plant. At the press introduction for the Viper back in 1989, Iacocca declared that he'd take the first one and "I don't care what they do with the rest of 'em."
Bonhams says the car has lived in California all its life, and was serviced by a Chrysler dealer outside of Palm Springs. Presumably, Iacocca left the Viper at his house there, which would explain why it has so few miles. It looks remarkably clean, too, with a passenger seat that appears to have rarely been sat in.
The earliest Vipers, the RT/10 roadsters, are the purest examples of the breed. They lack exterior door handles, door locks, traction control, ABS, and airbags. Like the Cobra it took inspiration from, the original Viper RT/10 was just a pared-back roadster with a hulking engine. In this case, an 8.0-liter V-10 sending 400 hp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual.
Bonhams estimated this Viper would sell for between $100,000 and $125,000, but obviously, those numbers were blown out of the water. It's a lot of money for an earlier RT/10— Texas dealer Viper Exchange has an RT/10 in similar condition listed for just $40,000, but the historical significance of this one can't be understated. It being the first production example and the personal car of the man who gave its blessing for production makes this one of the most important Vipers in existence. Arguably, the most important example.
You may be surprised to learn it's not the most expensive Viper, though. The first production 2013 Viper sold for $300,000 with proceeds going to charity, while the last Viper was sold as a pair with the last Dodge Challenger SRT Demon for $1 million, also for charity.
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