Since 1995, the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan has been responsible for the creation of one of America’s most iconic sports cars->ke506 – the Dodge Viper.->ke1404. But in 2010, the 50-year-old factory went on hiatus, and the snake’s fate was called into question. However, two years later, the factory was reopened and the fifth generation Viper was released into the world. Now the Conner Ave facility has been upgraded and improved, with modern equipment and techniques, while maintaining the bodybuilder philosophy.
“The motto of the Conner Avenue plant is ‘dedicated people who build dreams,’” said Doug Gouin, Conner Avenue Assembly Plant Manager, FCA US LLC. “The factory is filled with some of the most amazing automakers in the auto industry, building a vehicle that most people can only aspire to. The workers here are craftsmen, committed to providing the best possible quality to our customers. Some of them are Viper owners themselves, so the work gets very personal. They know they are custodians of the Viper legacy.”
Of the approximately 30,000 Vipers built since 1992, 24,000 came from Conner Ave. The factory can now boast of being “hospital clean, bright and more organized to increase the efficiency of any operation.” The 400,000-square-foot facility is home to some 64 auto workers, each contributing to the “handmade build” process of manufacturing the new Viper.
“There is a sense of pride in being a part of the Viper team,” said Greg Rinehart, a team leader who has been with Viper since 1994. “Every vehicle that leaves this factory is like one of our children. Every owner becomes part of our family. We were grateful when they decided to bring Viper back and give us the chance to be part of the future.”
Read on to get an in-depth understanding of the building process.
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Why it matters
While some assembly lines deliver a new car every 60 seconds, the Conner Ave plant produces a new Viper approximately every 146 minutes, with each individual vehicle taking 10 days to build. Operators are tasked with performing 150 “tasks” per cycle, with construction falling into three main areas: the chassis line, the engine line, and the final line.
A new Viper, shipped from Kentucky, starts life like most cars – as a bare chassis. Conner Ave installed its first robots in the 2012 relaunch, and these vending machines are the first to work their magic by punching holes in the frame and creating the functions needed to lift body panels, the hood, deck lid, doors and fenders. to hang. The robots then measure 65 “view points” for the accuracy of future component installation. Appropriately, a set of “drag strip lights” is used to indicate which stage the frame is in. The instrument panel, built on site, is then added.
Next comes all the things that make the car move, turn and stop, including the front and rear suspension, brakes, exhaust, fuel tank and of course that gigantic V-10 engine.
For strict quality controls, each V-10 is hand-constructed in six stages on site at Conner Ave., with dyno testing performed prior to installation.
The car is then transferred to the aligner for the correct camber settings, followed by mounting of the wheels and tires. This allows for the roll test, where each car is tested to speeds of 90 mph. The “rolls pit” was repurposed from the days of Prowler, with a nine-foot increase in length and a five-foot increase in width needed to accommodate upholstered cars.
The headlights are then aligned and emissions tested, after which each vehicle undergoes a five-minute “water test” where the car is bombarded with 720 gallons of recycled H2O to check for leaks. Then comes the “shaker,” which simulates speed bumps to find any rattles. There is also a field test on the road.
A “Vision Cell” is used to measure 120 points along the bodywork for an exact fit and finish, followed by an electrical check and a final polish and polish before the car is loaded and delivered.
Recent updates include the use of WiFi for RF reporting tools that eliminate cables and the implementation of the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) methodology for reduced waste and increased productivity.
Conner Ave also integrates a variety of racing themes throughout the facility. Each aisle is named after a famous race track, such as Sebring or Nürburgring, -> ke999, while walkways have checkered flag stickers indicating pedestrian zones.
Known for its over-the-top aggressive styling and massive engine with monstrous torque, the Dodge Viper has been a mainstay of the American sports car line for nearly a quarter of a century. Originally sold as a drop-top roadster, -> ke1418, the Viper got a covered version in 1996 when Dodge unveiled the second generation. The third generation was released for the 2003 model year, with the V-10 getting a little displacement under its long and shapely hood for a total of 8.3 liters. Power has also grown over the years, reaching 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque for the current fifth generation. Widely recognized for its killer cornering and massive acceleration, the Viper continues to impress in both professional and amateur GT racing to this day.
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