Prowler I Plymouth Specifications and Review
How did the Plymouth Prowler ever qualify for Time magazine’s list of the Fifty Worst Cars of All Time? Perhaps there was something the eye could not see, some flaw only encountered when behind the wheel?
Chrysler’s engineers were given a free rein to create a head-turning hot-rod, and what they came up with was unquestionably that. It had open, Indy-like front wheels with exposed suspension, a raked, aggressively tapered profile, and a Prowler-purple aluminum body to keep the weight down. Demand was so feverish that bidding wars broke out between prospective buyers for the 312 examples produced in its first year.
Shortcomings soon presented themselves, however, when buyers started poking around. Those looking in the cockpit would exclaim, “Where is the gear stick?” Looking under the hood (bonnet), it would
be an incredulous, “Where is the V8?” Lesser shocks followed. When the top was folded back inside the rear-hinged trunk (boot), there was about enough space left over for a few good books; it was so small that Plymouth offered an optional “trunk-trailer.”The fat rear tires sought out every imperfection on America’s aging roads, and there were those out-of-place, ineffectivelooking front “fenderettes” (bumpers), added to satisfy interfering Federal bureaucrats.
Models were upgraded to 253 bhp (173 kW) in 1998, giving a truer hot-rod-like performance, but the Prowler still lacked a V8 and manual transmission. Purists remained displeased, thinking that its looks towered above its purpose. But was it really one of the Fifty Worst Cars of All Time? Time magazine surely was just grinding some personal grudge.
1997 • 215 cu in/3,523 cc, V6 • 214bhp/157kW • 0-60 mph/97 kph in 7.2 seconds • 118 mph/180 kph