As home of the SRT® Viper, the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant is a rather interesting place. And for the time being, its doors are only open to outsiders upon special request. Recently, the curious minds of students from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies were granted special access to the facility for a tour unlike any other. Students were provided a unique experience, with SRT President and CEO Ralph Gilles and Doug Gouin, Director of Viper Operations guiding the voyage.
“The car starts off as a chassis, and as a designer I hope you can let your imaginations run,” said Gilles to the creative group. “When I look at a raw chassis of the car I imagine what other cars it can be. There is a very unique proportion. “I’m always thinking what else we can do with the car. Your imagination should run wild and if you’re a true designer you should see the possibilities and how exciting it is to wrap the mechanicals in a different skin.”
Touring an automotive production facility lends visitors an opportunity to look behind the curtain of the construction process. Conner Avenue is different from most other facilities in that every car that rolls off the line is hand-built by the skilled craftspeople of Detroit. This unique and painstaking process allows visitors to observe the process from a unique perspective.
Designers, however, have a completely different viewpoint than most others who visit the plant. Transportation design students from the highly regarded College for Creative Studies shared some insight on what they saw on the factory floor.
“Looking at the bare chassis, I see a roadster type vehicle with a convertible configuration. It appears very agile,” noted Colin Pan.
“This is a very good opportunity because we can see the whole naked chassis. My first impression is that the rear tires are very wide. The car is very wide and very well engineered,” shared Yoong Hwang.
Students were invited to experience the facility with the hopes of opening their minds to the processes that a vehicle undergoes throughout the production process. Based on comments received, most of the day’s visitors will return to the drawing board with a new outlook on designing cars.
“Most students never get the chance to see the inside of a car; the engine, the frame, not to mention a special car like this. It’s quite an education,” commented Professor Bryon Fitzpatrick. “They don’t really understand how a car goes together. This helps them understand everything better, to have an insight into construction.”