If GM and Ford’s heydays had been the 1950s and 1960s, then Chrysler, the perennial late bloomer, had its within the 1990s. After a decade of constructing uninspiring Ok-Automobiles, Chrysler began churning out design hit after hit. Between the Dodge Viper in the beginning of the last decade and the Chrysler PT Cruiser (you snicker, however Chrysler sold over a million of them within the 10 years they had been in manufacturing) on the finish of it, 1990s Chrysler was a design powerhouse. Smack dab in the course of the last decade, Chrysler produced what’s in all probability among the many weirdest, most attention-grabbing automobiles of the ’90s: the Plymouth Prowler (and later Chrysler Prowler) manufacturing unit sizzling rod.
As Tom Gale, the person who penned each the Dodge Viper and Prowler (amongst different issues) informed us, “The [’90s were] a beautiful time … as a man [at Chrysler] in design, you had the wind at your again.”
The Prowler was proof optimistic of that. Designed to guide the ill-fated rebirth of Plymouth as Chrysler’s youth model, the Prowler is in contrast to any automobile earlier than it or since. It’s chopped, laid-back form paid homage to the ’32 Ford sizzling rods that first gained recognition within the 1950s. And if its excessive beltline, raked windshield, and non-obligatory matching journey trailer didn’t get your consideration, its cycle-fendered open entrance wheels, protected by two little bumperettes, positive would.
Regardless of its out-there styling, the Prowler shared about 40 p.c of its elements with different Chrysler merchandise. Its 3.5-liter V-6, which made simply 214 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque when the Prowler launched in 1997, was borrowed from Chrysler’s front-drive LH sedans (just like the Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Imaginative and prescient) and turned longitudinally. Ditto for the Prowler’s four-speed automated, which was mounted on the Plymouth’s rear axle and linked to the engine through an open driveshaft. The Prowler’s rack-and-pinion steering rack got here from Chrysler’s City & Nation, Dodge Caravan, and Plymouth Voyager, and its coil-spring suspension was taken from the Viper.
The 60 p.c of the Prowler that wasn’t shared with the remainder of the Chrysler line is much more attention-grabbing. As we famous in our 1996 First Drive of the Prowler prototype, its perimeter body is extruded 6061 aluminum tubing bent into form round mandrels. The principle physique tub is sheet aluminum held along with self-piercing rivets and industrial adhesives. Suspension management arms had been made utilizing a hybrid die-casting/forging operation often called semi-solid metallic (SSM) forming. Rear brake rotors had been additionally aluminum. Greater than serving as an aluminum check mattress for Chrysler, the Prowler additionally helped the corporate check out its new manner of organizing engineers, designers, and product planners on a brand new car venture.
Regardless of its energy material prime, moderately lackluster powertrain, and wonky 45/55 p.c entrance/rear weight distribution, the intensive use of aluminum within the Prowler’s development helped the Plymouth carry out respectably for the period at our check monitor. When the Prowler hit the streets, we immediately put it in a comparison against its competitive set—on this case a real-deal 1932 Ford “Highboy” Roadster and a Corvette-powered Boyd Coddington–constructed 1933 Ford roadster tribute.
“With a quick chirp from its huge run-flat rear tires and a high-pitched yowl from its pipes, the Prowler hustles to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and thru the quarter mile in 15.Three seconds at 88.2 mph,” we wrote. “High pace is proscribed at 115 mph. Upshifts on the 6,500-rpm redline are a snap with assist from the AutoStick standing tall on the middle console. Though the Prowler can’t match time slips with the Corvette-quick Boydmobile’s ground-rippling 5.0-second dash to 60 mph, it left the classically crafted ’32 highboy scrambling to maintain up at 7.eight seconds.
“Sadly, the Prowler’s legs don’t absolutely make up for its lack of a convincing voice. The metallic rap of eight cylinders filling two pipes with syncopated rhythm is baked so deeply into America’s hot-rod soul that some lovers will shun Chrysler’s cool cat just because it lacks the proper rumble.”
Plymouth did deal with the Prowler’s “legs” however not its voice for the 1999 mannequin 12 months, becoming the Prowler with a brand new aluminum-block 3.5-liter V-6 making 253 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque, enhancing the automobile’s 0–60 mph time to five.7 seconds and quarter-mile efficiency to 14.Three seconds at 95.four mph. These hoping for more power or a V-8 must go aftermarket for that, as by the top of the 2000 mannequin 12 months, the Plymouth model was no extra.
That wasn’t all for the Prowler although; it, the Voyager, and the PT Cruiser—the latter of which was alleged to be the second youth-oriented mannequin within the Plymouth lineup—moved as much as the Chrysler model, now a part of the far bigger DaimlerChrysler firm. The Prowler would soldier on for 2 extra mannequin years, however in contrast to the orphaned PT Cruiser, it by no means actually match into the model. The Chrysler Prowler was discontinued on the finish of 2002 and successfully changed by the Chrysler Crossfire, marking an finish of an period for the corporate.
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