1999 Plymouth Prowler (Custom)
The Plymouth Prowler debuted in 1997 and eventually changed hands to the Chrysler brand when the Plymouth division died off. Nearly 12,000 Prowlers were sold. The total number was surprising because of the car’s aggressively different design and the fact that the vehicle came from the same company that makes the Town & Country Minivan.
When Chrysler engineers were given free rein to design whatever they wanted in a hot-rod- or sportster-type vehicle, the Prowler was born. Chrysler’s Design and International Director Thomas C. Gale’s “love for 1930s-era hot rods inspired Chrysler’s latest design triumph, the retro-styled Plymouth Prowler.” Gale, “who has a hotted up 1932 Ford in his garage, . . . [approved] the rod-inspired Plymouth Prowler as the company’s follow-up show-stopper to the Dodge Viper. An early influence is credited to a Chrysler-sponsored project at the Art Center College of Design that resulted in a thesis by Douglas ‘Chip’ Foose that included drawings of a retro-roadster.” Foose “designed it as a coupe for Chrysler to begin with but modified it to a roadster version.”
This production car’s most striking and significant feature is its use of open F-1-style front wheels. The detail adds that flamboyant hot-rod flair but severely reduces the vehicle’s turn radius.
Interestingly, when the Prowler is driven, the front fenders protrude from the body, which means that they also turn and bounce with the front wheels. This is one of the only production-factory cars in the world with body panels that actually move. Other notable aspects are that the battery is located in the very front tip of the car body and that the seats sit nearly in the very back.
Gale, the head of design at Chrysler, noted the biggest flaw in the Prowler’s creation: a 214-hp 3.5-liter V-6 turning a four-speed automatic transaxle. “If we had it to do over again, I would probably have wanted a V-8,” Gale said. “I think the Prowler would have been more successful had we gone with a V-8. We were trying to be responsible—here you’ve got this totally irresponsible project, and yet you’re trying to be responsible by using a V-6.” Many owners believe that Dodge made a huge mistake with the V-6 and the four-speed automatic gearbox. The package is underwhelming but tends to put a giant smile on the faces of everyone who has a chance to drive it.
More on This Particular Prowler
The Prowler presented before you as part of The Midwest Dream Car Collection is a customized modern street rod with a unique color-changing and holographic paint job. The car’s customization is credited to Titan Motorsports of Tennessee.
The Prowler features 19- and 22-inch chrome Asanti wheels and Pirelli P-Zero Nero high-performance tires. Brembo big-brake caliper kits were installed with a custom paint and Prowler logo addition. This Prowler also has a newly chromed IndyCar-style front suspension, custom dual exhaust, chrome covers under the hood, chrome transmission cover, chrome roll bar, and custom skull shifter knob.
Vlasic, Bill. “Can Chrysler Keep It Up?” Bloomberg, 24 Nov. 1996, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/1996-11-24/can-chrysler-keep-it-up.