This morning’s paper has the story of 2 guys who were awarded more than $385,000 from DaimlerChrysler for an oft-broken 2003 Dodge Viper, which went for about $80,000 new. Let’s review a few items from the story:
- The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by James Mortle of Muskego and Joe Kiriaki of Franklin over a muscle car they bought because of its performance prowess. – That’s all well and good, but this intent should have come back to haunt them, as their later actions will show.
- On Aug. 1, 2003, according to court records, 71 miles after the 500-mile break-in period, the differential broke for the first time. – I didn’t know break-in periods only last 500 miles nowadays. My 2004 Subaru Outback Sport had a break-in period of 1,000 miles.
- It was repaired, but just 13 days later, with the odometer reading 686 miles, the differential broke again, court records say. Over the next six months, the differential broke four more times, each time while being shifted from first to second gear at around 50 mph. – Now that is very odd, especially considering that Road and Track states that the maximum redline speed in first gear is 59 mph. Further, 50 mph in first gear would be roughly 5085 rpm on the engine, well below the peak of its power (500 hp at 5600 rpm).
- When the Viper was running like it was designed to, Mortle reached 122 mph in a quarter mile on a drag strip, he said. – That’s odd; R&T only got to 119 mph in the quarter-mile. I’m reasonably sure they ran the engine right up to the redline and the rev limiter to get that performance. They also tested the more-aerodynamic, lighter (3000 pounds curb weight vs 3390 pounds curb weight for the stock Viper), more-powerful (520 hp) Viper Competition Coupe wearing racing slicks, and that car only reached 122 mph in the quarter-mile. I strongly suspect that these two yahoos stopped off at the aftermarket performance shop and did some engine modifications (modifications that would tend to void warranties; I know Subaru would void my warranty if I were to apply some of the performance-enhancing parts out there).
- But after the differential broke for the sixth time, the manufacturer refused to cover any more repairs, records show. Mortle asked for a replacement Viper under the state’s lemon law, according to the lawsuit, but the manufacturer refused, contending that he and Kiriaki abused the car. – Frankly, I’m surprised that DaimlerChrysler waited until the 6th blown differential to suspect something. Taking a car out racing tends to void warranties; at least, it would void mine if I were crazy enough to take my car out racing. Further, doing bonzai quarter-mile runs at a speed an unmodified Viper is incapable of reaching just screams, “Car abuse!”
To wit, we have a pair of yahoos who pushed their car beyond its limit, almost certainly violated at least one part of their obligations under the warranty they had, and got a judge and jury to ignore that to give them one big payday. I sure hope the other car manufacturers were paying attention.