Wierd, freaky, wacky, and downright crazy cars of the past
Was the Plymouth Prowler a Hot Rod or a day-to-day street car? The jury is still out on that question but aficionados of both options did a lot of grumbling. Time magazine even called it one of the 50 worst cars of all time. But was that title really deserved?
Let's look at the hot rod aspect first of all. Critics complained that it had a V6 engine rather than a V8. However the original 1997 single overhead camshaft 3.5 litre engine produced 214 horsepower rising to 253 horsepower for the 1999 model. Low down torque was not as great as in Chrysler's V8 engines but in horsepower there was not very much difference and the Prowler was so light that acceleration was reasonable anyway. But not neck jerking! And then a common cry was: 'where is the gearstick?' There wasn't one. The gearbox was a four-speed automatic; unheard of in a serious rodder.
Top speed was not exactly earthshaking either. With the 1997 engine 118 mph could be expected, or 126 mph with the 1999 engine. Creditable speeds indeed but hardly hot rod standard.
And how did it perform as a streetcar? Forget about carrying the shopping home in the boot, once the top was folded back into it you would do well to squeeze a pack of cheese slices in. This was considered to be such a drawback that a trailer was an optional extra; this had wheels and paintwork to match the car. The towbar on the car, however, was to be used only for this trailer and towing anything else would have invalidated the manufacturers warranty.
However, it had dual airbags, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo, digital odometer, keyless entry, power operated windows and door locks, leather wrapped steering wheel; all features you expect to see in a street car/family car but never in a hotrod in a month of Sundays.
Before all the criticism came in demand for the Prowler exceeded supply at first but subsided later. Altogether during the production years of 1997 to 2002 a total of just 11,702 of them were sold.