The Build Team Responsible for the Viper Defender TV Car: Interview
In 1994, Chrysler pulled out one of the biggest marketing stunts to date — a TV show. It wasn’t just any TV show though, it was called Viper, and at the helm of it all was one very special car; the Viper Defender. Viper ran a total of four seasons from 1994-1999, and it cemented its place in history as a cult classic for gearheads. But how did the star of the show, the Viper Defender, come to be? No, it wasn’t built by George Barris, it was actually the work of a family run shop called Unique Movie Car Las Vegas. Along with the Viper Defender, Unique Movie Cars is responsible for some of the most iconic film and TV cars of all time. That star-studded cast includes Back to the Future, Dumb and Dumber, and The A-Team, just to name a few. But we wanted to pick their brains a bit and see exactly what went into the Viper Defender, and if they have any idea what crazy creations they might be building next: PHOTOS: See More of the Dodge Viper
BoldRide: How did you get started in film and TV cars?
Michael: My father and grandfather were building and manufacturing a motorhome line called Vogue coach, and we were building them for film use for hair and makeup. We were the people that came up with that, to use a motorhome for those services. My father and grandfather had a car collection of a few hundred cars and they started to rent them for film use. One thing led to another and they started building cars for TV and film.
On average, how long does it take a project from start to finish?
It all depends on a lot of factors, when we did Viper we had 45 days to built the 14 Viper Defenders and about 150-200 background cars like police, trucks, vans, and cars that we were doing stunts with, like gun shots, explosions, etc.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X
What's been your favorite car to work on so far?
I really don't have one, I don't really look at cars like that. Cars to me are a way to make a living, and it's just what we do, sort of like a job, like working at a fast food joint.
How many cars would you typically build for a specific show/movie?
It all depends on what they are trying to achieve. It may start out with one or two, but can quickly turn into five or six.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster
How did you plan to differentiate the Viper show car from the standard Dodge Viper?
We worked hand and hand with Chrysler when we did this show. They were introducing the Viper car with the show, so we would add something and they would add something, but a lot of what we added was for form, function and safety for what we were trying to achieve for the show, which posed a challenge at times.
What's your next project?
We never know, that's a changing question every morning.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2001 Dodge Viper GTS