The Plymouth Prowler is a two-seat, rear-wheel-drive cloth-top roadster designed to evoke the spirit of classic hot rods from the 1930s and 1940s. Its low-slung body, long hood, and open Indy-style front wheels give it a distinctive appearance that stands out on the road.
The Prowler’s body is made of aluminum and composite materials, which make it lightweight and contribute to its high-performance capabilities. Plymouth produced the car in a variety of bright colors, such as purple, yellow, and orange, which add to its eye-catching appeal.
The front bumper of the Prowler is integrated into the bodywork, with a sharp and angular design that emphasizes the car’s low-slung profile. The headlights are round and set into the fenders, with an idiosyncratic teardrop shape that gives the car a distinctive appearance.
One of the most striking features of the Prowler is its staggered wheel setup, with larger wheels at the back and smaller wheels at the front. The rear wheels are 20 inches in diameter, while the front wheels are 17 inches in diameter. This design creates a dramatic rake that stresses the car’s low stance and aggressive look.
The door frames of the Prowler are made of aluminum and feature an exceptional design that incorporates the side mirrors and door handles into the frame itself. The doors themselves are hinged at the front and swing forward, creating a large opening that makes it easy to get in and out of the car.
Other exterior features of the Prowler include a hood scoop that helps to cool the engine and adds to the car’s aggressive look, a rear spoiler that aids in improving downforce and stability at high speeds, and dual exhaust pipes that add to the car’s performance-oriented appearance.
Under the hood, the Prowler comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. Initially, that engine produced 214 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Later, the power output was increased to 253 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. In all cases, the engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, which sends power to the rear wheels. No manual transmission option was offered. The Prowler can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 118 mph.
Plymouth borrowed heavily from the Chrysler Corporation parts bin to outfit the Prowler. The engine also powers the front-wheel-drive LH cars of that era. Its coil-spring suspension comes from the Dodge Viper, while it shares its rack-and-pinion steering rack with the company’s minivans.
Inside, the Prowler has a minimalist interior with a center-mounted instrument cluster, leather bucket seats, and a simple dashboard. Power windows and door locks and air conditioning are found in every model assembled. The car does not have a traditional convertible top; instead, it has a removable roof panel that can be stowed in the trunk.
Speaking of the trunk, it opens from the front to the back. It measures just 1.8 cubic feet or barely large enough to hold a duffle bag. Interestingly, Plymouth offered a matching accessory trailer, a $5,000 option.
Origin and Year Built
The Plymouth Prowler was introduced as a concept car at the 1993 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The concept was designed by Thomas C. Gale, although Chip Foose may have influenced it.
Released in 1997, just over 400 units were produced. Plymouth skipped the 1998 model year. In 1999, the Prowler returned and brought with it a more powerful engine. The next year was the final one for the Plymouth version of the Prowler as Chrysler retired the brand. Nevertheless, the Prowler soldiered on for another two years, sporting Chrysler badging. In all, fewer than 12,000 copies were made.
Despite its relatively short production run, the Prowler has made a lasting impact on automotive design and has become a sought-after classic car among collectors and enthusiasts. It’s unique styling, lightweight construction, and modern performance capabilities have helped to make it one of the most distinctive and memorable cars of its era. The Prowler remains a testament to the enduring appeal of classic cars that blend old-school style with modern performance.
Winter. D. (1996, March 1). Chrysler’s Prowler: more than a material showcase, it’s a real product. WardsAuto.
Seabaugh, C. (2020, July 2). Remember the Plymouth Prowler? We Look Back on the Unlikeliest Car of the ’90s. Motor Trend.
Phillips, J. (2020, May 12). Tested: 1997 Plymouth Prowler. Car & Driver.
Conwill, D. (2021, July 2). Twenty years on, there’s still a lot to love about the Plymouth (and Chrysler) Prowler. Hemmings.
Additional History Stories
By Michael Rivera – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.
Yellow Prowler image by Be Free, under license from Adobe.
Prowler with trailer image by Mikelyden, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.