Okay, how I got here is kind of complicated, so I’m asking you to just stay with me. I did some research on the oldest car platforms still in production, which led me to Iran Khodro, the largest car maker in the Middle East, and the Peugeot 405s they built from 1987. Now couple this with the recent news that Iran announced yesterday that it is ready to resume talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, throw in the concept of the Dodge Viper and inline-3 engines, and I think you can see where this is going. No? Let me explain.
Okay, let’s start with this whole nuclear deal. Essentially, the US does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, for some complicated geopolitical reasons beyond the scope of this article. Let’s just say America doesn’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons.
Iran may seem like they want to develop nuclear weapons. In 2015, the United States and a number of other countries entered into an agreement with Iran whereby they cancel their nuclear missile development program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal and Iran resumed development work on nuclear weapons.
Now they say they are willing to come back to the table to talk, but it is likely that the terms will be different, and relations between Iran and the US are still so frosty that everything has to be handled with European intermediaries.
Okay, where do the cars come in?
Easy. Everyone is tense and pissed off and the stakes are high. It is not fun. Something has to be done to warm everyone up a bit, to ease the tension a bit. It’s been a rough few years for the whole world, and everyone is on edge.
So what can be done to make the pot a little sweeter for the Iranians, without giving up anything of real value on the American side? To find out, let’s take a look at what cars Iranians have access to:
Look at that nasty lineup of cars! No wonder they want to build weapons that can blow up anything – they’re just… bored. There is no real one pleasure car in that mix, nothing with a really unhinged sense of visceral joy.
Our cheesy editor Rory picked this up right away and commented in our Slack channel:
Sure, those old Peugeots are pretty cool from a nerdy American’s perspective, but what Iran really seems to need are car options that let people blow off some steam. Like Rory said, probably fueled by his many morning Manhattans, zoomers, and honking horns.
Fortunately, making that kind of car is one of the things America does best.
I’m not just talking about exporting and selling Iranian Mustangs or Challengers or Camaros – this has to be something they can have some kind of ownership of, some kind of partnership between America and Iran, a joint car project that, as we know, is really effective in bringing people together.
So here’s what I propose: Peugeot’s new owners, Stellantis, are in a good position to reach Iran Khodro, as building Peugeots under license was the start of the business.
Stellaantis also owns the Mopar brands, including Dodge. Dodge must have the gear to rust the first generation Vipers in a warehouse somewhere, right?
Well, how about this: Stellantis enters into an agreement with Iran Khodro to build new first-generation Dodge Vipers in Iran. The Viper is arguably the most entrenched, raw, hedonistic expression of car fun, which will provide the redemption Iran’s car-buying population needs, whether they know it or not. And it’s quintessentially American, which will promote positive feelings about America.
The original Viper used a V10 engine, but if we’re not comfortable with Iran having nuclear weapons, we definitely can’t give them the raw, wild power of that Dodge V10.
But we can’t just shove in a boring V6 or something – we have to close to to the V10, at least in some respects. And that’s where inline-3 engines come in.
You see, we can buy modern inline-3 engines from Ford (who uses one in the Bronco Sport) or GM (which uses a turbo-3 in the Chevy Trailblazer and Buick Envoy) or, hell, even both, and we take three of those I3s per viper, connect them to a common crank, end-to-end, and get the first mass market inlinenine engine ever.
That long Viper hood can certainly handle the length of three I3s, and there’s something wonderfully crazy about an I9 engine. It’s one less than the original V10, so American Viper purists will still brag, but the new Iranio-American Viper with the I9 will also be a strong force.
There’s no sensitive transfer of technology here: body and frame of an early 1990s car with a matched set of econobox engines that all come together to form one cheerfully purifying whole.
In addition, the first generation Viper was known as a fairly simple car – the first generation didn’t even have side windows or door handles on the outside – there’s no reason Iran Khodro couldn’t produce these just fine.
There are economic benefits for US companies and Iran Khodro – they can even export these vipers if they want! I bet they would be big in China!
Iranian consumers would finally have an exciting, exciting new car option, the US and Iran would have a seemingly frivolous but culturally valuable joint project, and once the companies from both sides are involved in this venture, who will really be interested in nuclear weapons or what form of war?
If you’re splitting on a project car with a friend, you probably won’t win by setting their house on fire, right? This just makes sense.
New first-generation Vipers with inline-nine engines are the foreign policy tool America never knew it needed so badly.
Man, sometimes it feels really good to do the things it takes to change the world for the better. You’re welcome, world.