On June 23 of last year, Oklahoma tooling company owner Scott Thomas paid $300,000 for a new SRT Viper. It wasn’t just any Viper, however, it was serial number 001, and the proceeds went to benefit the Austin Hatcher Foundation, a charity that helps fund research into curing pediatric cancers. In other words, it was an historically significant car, with the money spent going to a worthy charity.
Thomas’ Viper was delivered in a recent ceremony at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, where all new Vipers will be put together. Ralph Gilles, president of SRT, gives the key to Thomas after saying a few words; in a moment of comic relief, Gilles accidentally hands off the keys to his own car, a Chrysler 300 SRT8, by mistake.
Even Fiat and Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne gets in on the action, boldly stating that “Viper defines Chrysler.” The most touching moment in the video, however, is when Gilles dedicates the Trim and Chassis Final Line to Dan Knott, a senior vice president at Chrysler who once served as director of the SRT division. Knott died of cancer last April, but his words regarding the approval of the new Viper are now immortalized on the sign honoring him.
“Today,” Knott wrote in a message to Gilles, “we are a real car company again.”