Not their finest hour: Plymouth Prowler

Celebrating the greatest cock-ups in automotive history. This week we look at Plymouth Prowler
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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March 12, 2017
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The Nineties threw open a vast new world of possibilities for automobile designers. The power to visualise and draw the lines of a car was immensely augmented by the advent of computerised design tools. This was also the time young designer Chip Foose shot into the limelight with his gorgeous retro roadster designs.

Looking to cash in on this burgeoning trend of retro hot-rods, Chrysler announced the Plymouth Prowler, which was very much the result of a designer going bonkers with his mouse and trackpad. With its revolutionary open-wheel front end and hunkered-down hot-rod body, it looked unlike anything else on the road. However, looking different and unique isn’t the same as looking good, and the Prowler could at best be described as awkward-looking.

It could still have been a big hit with customers, had Chrysler backed up the looks and the ‘hot-rod’ positioning with suitable performance credentials. Unfortunately, all that the Prowler, launched in 1997, got was a standard 3.5-litre V6 engine that could eke out a tame 250 horsepower. And to make things worse, it was not offered with a manual transmission option. So what could have been a distinctive contemporary hot-rod with spectacular power and capabilities, ended up being a weird-looking machine with lackluster performance.

Understandably, sales figures weren’t encouraging, and the Prowler trudged on for four years until the Plymouth brand was discontinued, and then for another year with a Chrysler badge, before it was killed off in 2002.