A lot of car companies use retro styling on their cars. Chevrolet has the HHR, SSR, and Camero. Ford integrated styling of the classic Mustangs into the modern Mustangs. Chrysler used retro hot rod styling for the Prowler. The Prowler was first sold in 1997, not made in 1998, brought back in 1999, and was originally sold as a Plymouth until Chrysler ended the Plymouth marque in 2001. For the last two years of the Prowler’s production run, it was sold as a Chrysler. A total of 11,702 Prowlers were made. The Prowler definitely looks like a hot rod, but the point of hot rods are to look cool and put the biggest engine possible in the car. Something Chrysler did not do.

Vintage hot rods had V8s in them. Chrysler decided to put a V6 in the Prowler, something that goes against the rules of hot rods. The Prowler does look cool and has incredible styling, the fact that it has a V6 did not sit well with hot rod enthusiasts. Also the Prowler did not come with a manual transmission. Hot rod drivers loved to do burnouts, but it is very tough to do without a manual transmission. These facts put the Prowler on the Time Magazine’s “50 Worst Cars of All Time.” Hot rods had the styling and the performance. The Prowler only had the looks of a hot rod, but not the performance of the hot rod. I had a hard time deciding whether the Prowler deserved to be classified as a clunker or as a classic car, but because Chrysler made the mistake of not putting a V8 engine and a manual transmission in the Prowler, I had to classify it as a clunker.

The Prowler is powered by a 3.5L V6, paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. In 1997, the Prowler made 214 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. The 1997 model went from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and reached a top speed of 112 mph. The later models had 253 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. The later models went from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and reached a top speed of 126 mph. As far as performing like retro hot rods, the Prowler failed. The point of hot rods is to put the most powerful engine possible in the car and to go as fast as possible. The 5.9 second 0 to 60 time is impressive, the overall top speed is slow for hot rods. A 1997 Prowler went for $38,300. In the last year in production, a new Prowler went for $44,625. That is a little pricey for a car that can only reach a top speed of 126 mph.

The Prowler was featured in Extreme Machines and was reviewed by Car and Driver Television. The Plymouth Prowler is playable in Vigilante 8: Second Offense, Mashed: Drive to Survive, Driv3r, ToCA World Touring Cars, Roadsters, Cruis’n Exotica, California Speed, Test Drive 6, Cruis’n Velocity, Exhibition of Speed, Top Gear: Dare Devil, and Sports Car GT. The Chrysler Prowler is playable in 187 Ride or Die, Street Riders, Gran Turismo 4, and Gran Turismo 5.

I had a hard time deciding whether the Prowler is a classic car or a clunker. I love the styling of the car. But, it was lacking under the hood. If Chrysler had put a V8 engine and a manual transmission in the Prowler, I would have had no problems calling the Prowler a classic car. Chrysler owns Dodge, and putting the V10 engine from the Dodge Viper would have made the Prowler a true modern day hot rod. Sadly, Chrysler tried to cut production cost of the Prowler and put a V6 engine in the Prowler. I know what Chrysler was going with the Prowler, but if you are going to make a modern hot rod, at least follow hot rod tradition and put the biggest engine you can into the car. Aston Martin put a V8 engine in the Vantage. Aston Martin realize the V8 engine was lacking power and put the 6.0L from the DB9 and modified the Vantage’s engine compartment to fit the V12. The V12 Vantage is a modern example of hot rodding. Chrysler should take note to what Aston Martin did. Chrysler made a hot rod and did not put the largest engine possible or a manual transmission in the car, and for that, I have to classify the Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler as a Clunker.


Photo taken from a camera phone.

Check out more car articles at http://carjunkie713.blogspot.com

Originally written on September 25, 2011

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