Cutting the ribbon: opening the doors to the Viper Café.
Viper Club of America members are a passionate lot. Whether it’s driving their beloved Vipers, swapping stories or organizing events, there is a certain bond that each member shares. With the introduction of the 2013 SRT Viper earlier this year, the club worked hand-in-hand with the SRT design team to create and bring to light the Viper Café.
The Viper Café, open to the public, is a modern Viper-themed exhibit, housed on the garage level of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich., in a space that used to resemble a 1930s Chrysler showroom. Ralph Gilles, SRT President, CEO and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler Group LLC, did the honors of cutting the ribbon and welcoming the public into the Viper Café on Saturday, June 9.
“It was a long process, but it looks absolutely beautiful,” said Doreen Wright, Executive Director and COO, Walter P. Chrysler Museum. “We’re very excited to have a new exhibit first and foremost, as well as a visitor lounge and a facility rental opportunity here at the museum. The Viper Café has so much history of the Viper that visitors can go around and learn about, as well as seeing a little of the future, too.”
Mark Trostle, Head of SRT, Viper, Mopar and Motorsports Design, and his entire team were involved in the conceptualization, layout and design of the Viper Café. Long before the car was unveiled in New York City in April, Trostle and his crew were working on the Viper Café. Precise attention to detail was a key component when constructing the Viper Café, right down to the hand-painted mural that sits on the back wall, vividly featuring each person who was part of the creation of the Viper Café.
“This is awesome,” said Trostle, looking over the Viper Café at the grand opening. “It’s been a lot of fun working with Doreen (Wright) and everyone from the museum. We wanted to make sure the car and the café tied in together from the look and feel of the new Viper, to some of the look and feel of the old car.”
Maurice Liang, one of the Founding Presidents of Viper Club of America, took on the role as Viper Café Project Coordinator, serving a variety of duties, from helping to spread the word and raise funds for the Café, to sharing his vision for the aesthetic layout of the Café, to providing a plethora of memorabilia for the display cases. The Viper Café began with a budget of $12,000, and by the completion of the project, Liang had helped raise over $70,000 from Viper Club of America members to help the Viper Café become a reality.
“I’ve been a Viperholic for 20 years, so it’s pretty neat to see this all come together,” said Liang during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Viper people like sharing Viper enthusiasm, and one of my passions is collecting Viper memorabilia. It’s great to be able to show it to other people and share it with fellow Viper enthusiasts. We’re also sharing the history of the Viper with people coming to the museum, as well as the history of the Viper Club of America. I hope it inspires someone to become a Viper owner someday.”
The centerpiece of the Viper Café is the original 1989 Viper Concept Car. Models of the Viper, diecasts, Viper neon signs, Viper-themed tables and bar stools, magazines, books and videos of the Viper history both on the race track and on the street also grace the room. A timeline of each generation of the Viper is featured on pillars within the Café, along with vibrant photographs and illustrations of the iconic supercar.