Owned by Lee Iacocca himself

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The Dodge Viper came in a time when Chrysler was associated with people carriers and compact front-wheel drive cars. It was first shown in concept guise back in January 1989 after just one year under development and the first customers got their Vipers in the early months of 1992. The rest, as they say, is history.

Also history - of the living ilk - is this particular red-painted Dodge Viper, for two reasons: it’s the very first to leave the assembly line and it had one owner throughout its entire life. That owner is Lee Iacocca, who sadly passed away on July the 2nd, 2019.

Why isn’t this thing in a museum by now?

The First Dodge Viper Ever Produced Just Sold for $285,500
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Yes, we agree, the 001 VIN number (1B3BR65E5NV100001, more exactly) Viper should be kept in a museum, under some sort of bodyguard protection. Luckily, it’s not, so someone (rich) got the chance to buy it and, thus, own a piece of automotive history. Mind you, that didn’t come cheap: according to Bonhams, the car sold for $285,500.

Coming back to the car itself, you’re looking at a 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10 with less than 6,500 miles on the odometer, as per its card on the Bonhams website. Obviously, if there’s any Dodge Viper worth having, this is the one. And not just because of its status as the first Viper to be produced, or its savage 8.0-liter, 400-horsepower V-10 developed with a lot of input from Lamborghini, or its immortal design, or the sheer rawness it offers.

The First Dodge Viper Ever Produced Just Sold for $285,500
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This one was looked after and owned by none other than Lee Iacocca, who had massive input in the development of the Mustang during his time with Ford but also in Chrysler’s return to healthy business in the mid-1980s. He also gave the Viper the green light, albeit with some persuading from his good old friend Carroll Shelby.

What’s more, Iacocca was the man who made the Viper acquainted to the world during the 1990 Detroit Auto Show and the one who uttered what is perhaps the best way to describe the Dodge Viper:

‘If this doesn’t excite you then check your pulse because you aren’t feeling too damn well this morning.’

In case you’re wondering how Iacocca got his hands on the VIN 001 Dodge Viper, well, there’s an anecdote that tells the whole story. Back in the 60s when the Shelby Cobra was concocted, Carroll Shelby took the first one built and offered the second to Iacocca, who passed, arguing that ‘it’s a lousy car.’ But during the car’s reveal press conference, Iacocca famously pointed at the red Viper saying ‘I am not making the same mistake twice!, this one, this one right here is mine!’

We just hope the new owner treats the car properly. That is, by driving it on a regular basis. We’d hate to see it become a garage queen.

Tudor Rus
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read full bio
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