SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — I've driven down Sunset Boulevard in a metallic plum-colored Prowler, getting more looks and waves than the Rose parade. Then a year later I repeated the trip with a screaming yellow version in this trendy desert town. Same reaction.
Plymouth has developed a great antidote for mid-life crisis. But can the world's first "factory-built" hot rod breathe new life into a brand that Chrysler was ready to abandon just a few years ago?
Unfortunately the answer was no, and the brand is slated for oblivion next year. At first the Prowler was going into the automotive dustbin, too, but demand has caused the axe wielders to pause in the down stroke. Now it will continue as a Chrysler, and those with one badge or the other are bound to become more collectible.
Instant collector’s item?
The Prowler made its debut as a 1993 concept car. The two-seater captured the excitement of the great classic hot rods, and proved so popular that Chrysler was inspired to put the car into production as a low-volume showpiece.
For 1999, new features included a new all-aluminum, 253-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine; it has 39 more horsepower than the cast-iron engine in the 1997 Prowler. That year the Prowler also featured a new on-off switch for the passenger airbag, improved window switch gear and enhanced speaker cover treatments for the Prowler's "boom box" speakers. (If someone offers you a 1998 Prowler, politely decline, as the car skipped a year in its evolution, a combination of marketing and government regulatory shuffling.)
For 2000, the only change is the availability of a new color, silver, in the Prowler’s palette, plus some minor interior improvements and some suspension refinement. Purple, you’ll remember, was the first hue; a second color, yellow, was offered starting in mid-1999, followed by red and black later in the year, run down the line in batches. Other colors include a red and black two-tone special Woodward Dream Cruise edition.