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The Very First Dodge Viper, Owned By Lee Iacocca, Sells For $285,500

Illustration for article titled The Very First Dodge Viper, Owned By Lee Iacocca, Sells For $285,500
Photo: Bonhams

The first production Dodge Viper was sold at Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction this past week. VIN 00001 brought in almost ten times the typical price of a first-generation Viper. Not only is it the first, but it was also owned by Lee Iacocca who was the chairman of Chrysler when the car went on sale.

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The OG Vipers had 400 horsepower coming from the eight-liter V10. Four hundred horsepower is adequate for a mid-range luxury SUV these days, but in the early nineties, it was a huge amount of power, especially for a $52,000 car.

Two other cars owned by Iacocca were sold at the auction: an 86 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country convertible and an 09 Ford Mustang Iacocca 45th Anniversary Edition. Those cars sold for $19,040 and $49,280 respectively.

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While $285,500 is a lot for a Viper, I’m glad it wasn’t sold for more in this age of ludicrously expensive old cars (though it did go for more than double its pre-sale estimate). The Viper has always been more of a blue-collar car and it would be a shame to see the price of any copy get too out of control.

I owned a second-generation Viper, a 2002 GTS ACR that I bought for less than 1/10th of what Iacocca’s went for. I was the seventh owner and best I can tell, the only one of the seven who bothered to fix or repair anything. Buying that car was a mistake that I’m happy I made, and one that I recommend you make as well.

That car felt like a kit car that was assembled in a shed, so I can’t imagine what the first car of the first generation looks like underneath. Though I’m sure some extra care went into assembling the boss’s car. This one will probably not see many repairs either, because it likely won’t see much road time. It’s a little sad that it won’t be doing the popular Viper pastimes of gratuitous burnouts, burning people’s ankles, and sliding sideways into trees. But I’m glad that it somehow made it this far without the salvage title, cracked plastic, and faded paint that seems to be standard on Vipers of this vintage.

It’s really great to see the first one still shiny and red, reminding many of us of how we felt when we first saw one of these things 30 years ago.

Matt Brown is an automotive engineer, writer, and builder of unconventional things. Mostly vehicles.

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Duke of Kent

Two other cars owned by Iacocca were sold at the auction: an 86 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country convertible and an 09 Ford Mustang Iacocca 45th Anniversary Edition.

Be sure to check the spelling on the registration to ensure that LeBaron wasn’t registered to a Leigh Iacocca. Apparently prior owner spelling mixups are common on those cars.