“Knight Rider” isn’t the only television show with a car as the star. “Viper” had a brief run during the 1990s, and now one of the show’s prop cars is up for auction on Bring a Trailer.
Set in the “near future” as envisioned in the early 1990s, “Viper” was about a federal task force based in fictional Metro City, California, that fought crime using an armored vehicle called the Defender that masqueraded as a Dodge Viper. The show first aired in early 1994 on NBC and continued in syndication between 1996 and 1999.
The Defender was designed by Chrysler, and built on a stretched 1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 chassis by Unique Movie Cars in Las Vegas. A 360-cubic-inch Chrysler V-8 replaced the Viper V-10, driving the rear wheels through a Chrysler 727 3-speed automatic transmission. The suspension, steering, and brakes are thought to be carryover Viper hardware, according to the auction listing.
The driver faces three round instruments, including a 180-mph speedometer, a 7,000-rpm tachometer, and a fake crosshair sight, with three simulated screens off to the side showing static images of fictional vehicle diagnostics. The two seats are upholstered in gray leather, but the car lacks seat belts and climate control. You can get fresh air by removing the windows, though, which are attached by Velcro.
According to the listing, this car is one of 14 built for “Viper.” It was reportedly used for filming and public relations rather than stunt work, and so lacks functioning gadgets like ones seen in the show. The seller claims the car, which is listed as having 190 miles, has been parked since the completion of filming. As a prop, this car doesn’t have a VIN or title, and is being sold via a bill of sale with the understanding that it can’t be registered for use on public roads.
The Defender may not have achieved the same status as the “Knight Rider” KITT car or the “A-Team” van in pop culture, but anyone who remembers “Viper” will likely be pleased to know that one of the cars from the show survived.
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