Faced with sagging sales across the lineup, Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli said that the move was designed to tap into what the company's marketing department has termed a dormant market of would-be race car drivers stuck behind the wheel of minivans, wagons and crossovers.
"Our research has revealed that what most family car buyers crave more than anything else is a 500 horsepower vehicle that can turn in 11-second quarter mile times while safely hauling their children and groceries", he said at a recent press conference called to introduce the new model. "Single-digit fuel economy has also been frequently mentioned by focus groups as one of the most desirable traits in a daily driver, once again pointing to the Viper as a logical platform upon which to build a wagon."
Accompanying Nardelli to the media event was a prototype version of the new Viper wagon. Dubbed the 'Mama Snake' and wearing a variation of the standard Viper badge that included 3 smaller baby snakes in the background, the wagon's aggressive appearance was tempered somewhat by an extended passenger compartment that rose up over the rear haunches of the vehicle. A tall greenhouse revealed a rear passenger area that could be configured to hold either a full-size spare tire or a child seat, but not both.
When Nardelli introduced a family of four who were meant to showcase the practical aspects of the Mama Snake, the conference was briefly interrupted by screams from the 18-month year old member of the publicity crew. The Chrysler CEO quickly acknowledged that the terrifying appearance of the Viper wagon often had a disquieting effect on small children, but that revving the 8.4 liter V10 engine underneath the hood of the sports car could easily drown out even the loudest cries from the back seat.
It is Chrysler's hope that the publicity surrounding the Mama Snake's unveiling will renew interest in the company's products. To this end, Nardelli announced that a new racing series open exclusively to the Viper wagon would begin in the summer of 2009. 'In addition to navigating some of the most demanding race courses in the world, drivers will also have to pack and safely deliver paper bags filled with eggs, milk and light bulbs from one scheduled pit stop to another,' he said. He also announced a unique twist in the series format where 'halfway through the race, the field will also be stopped in order for competitors to attempt to scrub out persistent, food-based stains from the vehicle's rear upholstery and carpeting.'
Representatives of Ford's Special Vehicles Team were unavailable for comment regarding rumors of a planned Cobra Minivan response to the daring Chrysler initiative.