The investors who just purchased most of the assets of specialty-car maker Saleen Inc. have considered buying the Dodge Viper business, though it's unclear whether they are among the three bidders Chrysler has publicly acknowledged.
"We've considered a purchase of Viper," said Mike Shields, who along with his brother owns controlling interests in several Michigan auto-related companies.
Their group includes Cyltec, Arrow Racing Engines, Control-Tec and Power-Tec Engineering. Using the name MJ Acquisitions, they bought Saleen's street-performance car, aftermarket and supercharger business on Jan. 30.
Chrysler has been pondering a sale of the Viper sports-car business since last year. Co-president Jim Press said on Tuesday that the company is performing "due diligence" on three proposals.
The Viper operation is thought to include the factory in Detroit, the workers and the car itself, which is powered by a 600-hp V10.
Shields would not say whether his group is among the three bidders.
"That's a touchy little subject there," he said.
Chrysler declined to comment on the three potential bids, or the timetable for a deal.
"I'm not disclosing the name of the companies," spokesman David Elshoff said.
Shields also gave more insight into his plans for Saleen, saying he expects to continue with the aftermarket and supercharger business.
But, he said the group is still evaluating whether it can profitably continue the Racecraft brand and the flagship S-Line, though Shields said he hopes to. The 2010 Ford Mustang was expected to be used by Saleen as the base for performance models under those brands, but that is in question.
"If the economic conditions continue to deteriorate . . . then we'll change our mind," he said.
Shields's group bought the Saleen assets from Hancock Park Associates, a Los Angeles-based investment firm. Not included in the deal were the S7 and the S5 Raptor concept, which former Saleen president Chris Theodore is trying to sell as he winds down his duties this month.