This is one of an estimated 14 Viper Defenders that were built for the 1990s TV Series “Viper” starring James McCaffrey, Dorian Harewood, and Joe Nipote. It’s now being offered for sale out of Henderson, Nevada and it’s built on a Dodge Viper platform.
Unlike many prop cars built for Hollywood, the Viper Defender was actually designed at Chrysler by stylist Steve Ferrerio in 1993. It’s styling was clearly influenced by the Dodge Viper which had debuted just two years earlier in 1991.
Fast Facts – The Viper Defender
- The Viper Defender was designed at Chrysler as a futuristic version of the the Dodge Viper production car. It was described as an urban assault vehicle and it featured many built in functions, not dissimilar to KITT from Knight Rider.
- The TV series “Viper” initially aired on NBC for a single season in 1994, it was then picked up for a further three seasons, and it’s now often shown in reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel and the USA Network.
- The car was designed by Chrysler stylist Steve Ferrerio and then built by Unique Movie Cars in Las Vegas, Nevada for use in the show. It’s believed that 14 were built.
- The example you see here is built on a stretched 1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 chassis, it has a fiberglass body, and it’s powered by a 360 cubic inch Chrysler small-block V8 sending power back through a 727 automatic transmission and from there to the rear wheels.
The “Viper” TV Series
“Viper” is an action-packed crime and science fiction television series from the 1990s that follows the story of the Viper Team, an elite crime-fighting unit. The show is set in the fictional Metro City, California where crime is rampant and law enforcement struggles to maintain any semblance of control.
Above Video: This is the pilot episode of “Viper” from 1994, much of the rest of the series is available to watch for free on YouTube.
The series centers around the high-tech, armored vehicle known as the “Viper Defender,” which is a Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster modified with advanced weaponry and sophisticated defense mechanisms. The Viper is utilized by the Viper Team to combat crime and bring justice to the city.
Together, the Viper Team faces numerous criminals, corrupt corporations, and other threats to the city. Throughout its four-season run, the show blended car chases, explosive action, and engaging character development, making “Viper” a cult classic for fans of the genre.
The Viper Defender
It’s clear that the Viper Defender was influenced by the earlier KITT from the 1980s TV series Knight Rider. Both cars were based on period production sports cars, KITT on the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and the Viper Defender on the Dodge Viper RT/10.
Interestingly the Defender was built on a production Viper chassis but the original V10 engine was removed and replaced with a 360 cubic inch Chrysler small-block V8 sending power back through a 727 automatic transmission to the rear wheels.
Of the 14 cars built for the series some were more complete than others, as some cars were used for interior shots and some for exterior driving shots. The example you see here appears to have been one of the few built to serve both purposes, with a fully detailed interior and exterior.
The interior of the car has seating for two, it’s all finished in blue/gray upholstery and black carpeting, and the center console/dashboard section includes the three color monitors that were used in the show to depict satellite navigation, onboard diagnostics, weapon systems, radar, etc.
Although this car is fully equipped and drivable it’s not legal for road use, this is something that may be worth researching for any potential bidders as it may be possible to get the car registered in some regions as a kit car or low volume production vehicle – though this would require further research.
It’s not known how many of the original Viper Defenders now remain, the show itself has been largely forgotten apart from the occasional reruns, and the car looks like a 1990s-era concept car that never made it into production.
The Viper Defender Shown Here
The car you see here was built by hand at Unique Movie Cars in Las Vegas, Nevada specifically for the show Viper, it’s essentially the shows main character after all. As noted above it was designed at the Chrysler Corporation by stylist Steve Ferrerio – unusual as most movie/TV prop cars are designed by specialists not car designers.
Given the fact that this car is based on a Dodge Viper RT/10 platform and that it uses a standard Chrysler small-block V8 and a 727 automatic transmission parts should be nice and easy to source, and the car is drivable though as noted above it’s not road legal.
It has four-wheel independent suspension, rack and pinion steering (power assisted), disc brakes all around (also power assisted), and it has just 190 miles on the odometer – likely mostly accumulated during the filming of the series.
It represents an unusual opportunity to acquire an interesting Chrysler-designed car from the early 1990s, one that is arguably much better looking than the actual production Viper from the same era.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer, it’s now being offered for sale out of Henderson, Nevada.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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