Through the Nineties Chrysler had a habit of actually building its concept cars.
First was the Dodge Viper, an 8.0-litre V10 monster unlike anything Chrysler had ever built before. Then in 1993 came the Plymouth Prowler, a two-seater roadster styled after a classic ‘hi boy’ hot rod.
Again, the Prowler was unlike anything other Chrysler before. Enough people wanted one that by 1997 it was on sale.
Clearly someone high up thought it was worth the effort as a bespoke front-engined, rear-wheel-drive chassis was needed – no small effort or expense. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Chrysler nearly went bankrupt and merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998.
The Prowler was mostly made from aluminium so weighed in at just 1,270kg. But at launch it was saddled with a 214bhp V6 engine connected to a four-speed automatic gearbox. So it didn’t really have the performance to back up the looks. Only in 1999 did it gain a new 253bhp motor that dropped the 0-60mph time below six seconds.
Despite the light weight and a rear-mounted gearbox, the handling wasn’t much cop, either. The Prowler was a cruiser, a point reinforced by the option of factory-built trailer (literally the car’s back end with a trailer hitch attached) to supplement the meagre boot space.
The Prowler was rebadged a Chrysler after the Plymouth brand was dropped in 2001; production stopped in 2002. It proved quite popular for such an off the wall car, 11,702 finding homes. It sparked a trend for retro-styled cars as well, followed by the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Toyota FJ Cruiser, 2008 Dodge Challenger and 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
By Only Motors