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The legacy of the Dodge Viper is undeniable. The V10 engine and raucous driving experience are the stuff of legends to this day. However, a lesser-known 1990s tv show used a Dodge Viper as a basis for a futuristic sports car. While barely recognizable as a Viper, the TV show bearing the same name used this iconic sports car as its hero car in one of the weirder Hollywood automotive history stories we know about.

How the Viper Defender came to be

It’s not unusual for manufacturers to work with Hollywood studios to help promote their most exciting products. However, the Viper Defender went a step further. For starters, the show’s heroes use a red Viper RT/10 to cruise around in between heroic sequences. But when called into action, some truly giggle-inducing CGI transforms the car into a silver Viper Defender.

Even better, the stretched and exaggerated hero car was actually designed by Chrysler’s design team. And while scant little is immediately recognizable at first glance, hints of the car hidden underneath are ever-present.

For one thing, changing the wheelbase wasn’t an option. Since they had to actually build these Viper Defender sci-fi vehicles, changing the base structure of the car wasn’t optional. That means the hard points like the doors, sills, and window shapes couldn’t be drastically different than the standard Viper.

Furthermore, since the premise involved the base Viper transforming into the Viper Defender on command, it had to have some of the base Viper’s DNA baked into the transformation. The result looks like some diabolical blend of the standard Viper and the Starship Enterprise, which makes sense given that this is a 90’s sci-fi program.

The Viper Defender is a stretched Dodge Viper wearing new bodywork for TV. It's a weird piece of Hollywood automotive history.
Viper Defender | Bring-a-Trailer

A 1-of-14 Hollywood prop car sells for $141,777

Unfortunately, you can no longer take your shot at owning this strange piece of Hollywood automotive history. The Bring-a-Trailer auction ended yesterday for $141,777. 

The seller claims that this example is one of the on-screen cars, though verifying that fact has proven difficult.

In addition, the car has no VIN, so good luck getting it registered for any on-road driving. There is a chance the buyer may find a VIN etched somewhere on the frame or engine, though we can’t be sure.

Unfortunately, the prop car doesn’t have the howling V10 engine and six-speed manual transmission of the real Viper that it’s based on. Instead, it uses a 5.9-liter pushrod V8 (Think NASCAR) with an automatic transmission.

While a letdown, it does make sense given the costs associated with the V10 and the Viper’s challenging driving behavior. In that sense, it’s likely not an excellent choice for bombing around a Hollywood set.

Other unfortunate quirks include velcro windows, that face, and absolutely no interior climate controls whatsoever. There is also no radio, no seatbelts, and of course, no laser gun.

Still, of the strange Hollywood cars to hit the auction block, this is certainly one of them. We’re not sure we’d be interested in taking it home, even if it didn’t just sell for $141,777.

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