Update: Chrysler called us to clarify that it wasn’t Marchionne, but instead Roy Peters, the project’s lead electrical engineer.
Coasting along with traffic, eastbound on Interstate 69 through Michigan, we were road testing a 2012 Jeep Compass when several car lengths in the distance a ragtag convoy of cars swarmed around a single sports coupe.
Difficult to spot through the fray, it wasn’t exactly clear what was causing the fuss until we got a little closer and realized someone was driving a 2013 SRT Viper. Surprising as it was to see Chrysler’s new flagship on a public road, the funniest part had to be that the back window was cluttered with what looked like white plastic grocery bags.
Never one to feign away from a pack of car gawkers, we stepped on the throttle and jockeyed in behind the Viper. It wasn’t long before the driver switched to the right-hand lane and gave us a good look: none other than Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne out for a Memorial Day ride in what we’re anticipating to be the hottest American car in quite some time.
Maybe our enthusiasm scared him, or maybe the storied CEO had somewhere to be, but a few short moments after our cars aligned, he exited at exit 159 to South Wilder Road, probably heading back down to Detroit. This isn’t the first time someone spotted the new Viper rolling around in Michigan. SRT CEO Ralph Gilles took one out for a spin around Detroit last month and caught attention from a few amateur paparazzi.
As the CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, Marchionne spends his time in three ways: working on Chrysler, working on Fiat and flying between the two. As a recent interview he held with 60 Minutes revealed, he isn’t actually allowed to drive himself anywhere while in Italy. Unlike U.S. law, the Italian government keeps a list of the most important people to its economy, and mandates that they must be kept safe at all times. For Marchionne, that means being the CEO of a massive car company, but not being allowed to drive — stranger than fiction, indeed.
Thankfully for the beard-bearing auto baron, Italian law is worth bupkis in America, meaning he’s free to roam in the raging Viper where time permits. With the 2013 SRT Viper still unreleased, the chances of actually seeing one in person is, well, slim to none. We, among every other publication, are about as patient as a fix-fiending junkie to have a taste, but running into one on the highway will have to do for now.
Check out the video below.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.