In 1999, Plymouth only produced 3,921. This one has a dedication from Tom Gale.
Differing Opinions- What Gives?
I have read articles on the Prowler from different points of view. It’s made it in the top 20 concept cars to materialize and its also made it in the top 6 of failed retro cars. Looking at these cars today, I think they did a lot for challenging the process and initial design of concept cars. These cars were marketed as “hot rods,” but the intent was more than that, if you read about Tom Gale’s view on what he was trying to accomplish. In the 90’s designers were not venturing outside the box and concept cars weren’t very exciting. He was also looking to work with aluminum panels and binding them in a way that captured that roadster look. It was an engineering challenge. It was received with mixed reviews.
I Should Have Had a V 8!
The biggest criticism? A V6 engine instead of a V8. While the car had a very cool look with the cool name of a sleek cat, it just did not offer the power that attracted drivers to it. According to Gale, he thought it was the responsible choice of engine. And another criticism? No trunk space. There was a quirky answer for this. A trailer that attached to the back of the car. Not the most practical of options, but a solution if you really needed the trunk space. And now, it’s an added unique feature that Prowler owners can show off. For a great read on the background of Prowler, you can visit Road and Track.
Let’s Hear from a Local Owner
Brian and his son love cruising in their 1997 Prowler. When I asked Brian the how, why and when he acquired his Prowler, he told me he bought it as a one time owner in 1998. Back in the 90’s there was nothing like it. It was very rare for it’s time. I loved the fact that the aluminum body was crafted right here in the United States and even today, I stand by the opinion that it is a car made ahead of it’s time. Because if you look at the new pick up truck commercials for example, they boast of so many hundred pounds of aluminum, yet nineteen years back, this car was already an aluminum phenomenon. And there really wasn’t much by way of concept cars back then. The concept cars in the 90’s were like vanilla. So when this car was introduced into the market, it really popped. Plus it’s a tribute car to the 1932 Ford Roadster. It’s a real American Car, all of it made in the U.S.
And what about the V8 engine and the “train?” Was that something you considered when you made the purchase?
The V6 was not a factor at all in the purchase. Its performance is on par with the Mustang GT of the era. If you look at a 1997 Mustang for example, you get the same 0-60 experience and the Chrysler V8 of the 90’s did not offer that much horsepower, probably around 300, I’d say. As for the trailer, while it’s hard to drive with it, when I’m in the mood, I’ll attach it and go for a cruise because it’s fun to get what I call the ” double point.” First they see the car, and point to it, then they spot the train behind, and point to that. I always get a kick out of that.
Do you do most of the work on the car yourself, or do you send it to a shop when it needs something addressed?
I have what I call a ” Chrysler Bible.” It’s a really thick manual. I do most of the work myself since a lot of the dealers of today don’t really know how to work on them anymore
What’s your favorite feature?
I would say the open wheels in the front make this car very unique. I say it’s the only “triangular” car out on the road. Because the wheels are set away from the front of the body, the body is given a dramatic hotrod look. It sets it apart from most cars on the road, even today.
I always say there’s a car for everyone. If you want to dabble at owning something unique for not a whole lot of money, this car is it. They are still new enough to get reliability out of them. In my opinion, I can’t see their value coming down because of their pivotal part of reviving the concept car process. And as an owner of one of these cool cats, the experience begins as soon as you sit down. As you close the door you’ll notice your shoulders sitting well below the door panel. It’s a low ride…Turn the key, and you get a whole lot of rumble and purr, and I mean that in a good way.