Imagine that the engineers at Chrysler were given a blank check to design their ideal sportster or hot rod. The end result of such a real-life scenario was the Plymouth Prowler, a retro-styled car produced in 1997 and again from 1999 to 2002. The production model was based on the concept car created in 1993 as a result of the open design challenge. Perhaps most remarkable among the Prowler's features is the open-cockpit and Indianapolis racer-style front wheels that give the car an extreme throwback appearance. Chip Foose is the acknowledged designer of Chrysler's Hemisfear senior project for the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, from which the Prowler evolved, though he does not receive official recognition for the design.
The Prowler was originally produced in Shadyside, Ohio, and then assembled in Detroit, Michigan, by hand. It not only boasted great old-school styling, but also had the goods under the hood, including the same powertrain as the Chrysler LH cars a 214 horsepower, 24-valve, single overhead cam V6. An Autostick automatic transmission with four speeds was stock. A flexible rotating drive shaft joined the engine to the transmission at the vehicle's read end. This gave the vehicle a 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution.
Prior to the Prowler, the 1989 Gran Fury was the last rear-wheel drive vehicle that Plymouth produced. Despite the V6, the engine has a horsepower rating as high as or higher than the baddest V8 engines offered by Plymouth at the time. The lightweight Prowler was able to get off the line very quickly, partly due to its aluminum chassis. The Prowler's top speed was 112 mph at release and 118 mph at the end of the run. The original model reached 60 mph in eight seconds and the later version scurried to 60 mph in just under six seconds. The Prowler came in 12 beautiful colors, including Midnight Blue, Inca Gold and Deep Candy Red. There was even a Black Tie edition in formal black and white with chrome. The Chrysler badge replaced the Plymouth brand in 2000.
A Prowler trailer that functioned as a spare trunk was a popular option, mostly due to the limited cargo space. Trailers could be ordered in matching colors. A 10th Anniversary party was attended by 185 Prowler owners at the Auburn Hills, Michigan, home of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in 2007. The U.S. Post Office even celebrated the Prowler with a series of six stamps showcasing different color combinations.
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