The Chrysler Prowler was introduced to the world amidst mixed reception back in 1997.
It was no ordinary car and looked more like a hotrod or a creation taylor-made for SEMA. At the time, Daimler Chrysler marketed the car as a retro-styled offering to the masses.
Not your ordinary
As the turn of the millennium approached, more and more manufacturers were becoming expansive with ‘futuristic’ designs. The Oldsmobile Aurora and Nissan 300ZX are a few examples that spring to mind.
Over in Motor City where the Prowler was assembled, the design engineers were given the green-light to ‘do as they wish’ in making a classic hot rod for the modern era.
As is the case with a hot rod, it can be seen and heard almost immediately. The Prowler was by no means an exception to the rule and work was then underway to create a performance roadster. In went an idea and out came one of the most ambitious creations of the past 30-plus years.
The ‘small in front, big at the back’ concept is the most noteworthy feature, aided with 17-inch alloy wheels in the front and beefier 20-inches at the rear.
Under the triangular bonnet and sending power to the rear wheels is a 3.5-litre V6 engine that produced 160kW. An upgraded 189kW version was released in 1999 – both powerplants came with a four-speed, semi-auto gearbox.
Because the Prowler was a uniquely built car, it had no direct comparisons but in terms of 0-100km/h it was up there with the 2002 Audi S6 and Mercedes-benz SL – racking constant 5.6-seconds.
Those are not bad performance figures, and this for a car that weighed under 1 300kg.
Does it accrue iconic status?
The Prowler was built as a one-off model and even though its successor – the Crossfire – was released, it never garnered much attention. It sold under 12 000 models worldwide and ended its production cycle in 2002. South Africa never received the Prowler but did receive the Crossfire.
It can be considered an automotive icon simply because of how it looks and the following of nostalgia it brings. The likes of the McLaren F1’s and Ferrari Enzo’s are legends in their own right because of its performance and seeing one in the flesh today is neigh on impossible. Something like the Prowler will never be built again in the future and for that reason it will remain a cult classic.