“I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to Mopar fans asking for a fun rear wheel drive roadster that I provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "thank you", and went on your way”, fictional Chrysler engineer circa 1999.
First, one shouldn't compare the Plymouth Prowler to other cars purchased as daily drivers. Although as standard equipped one could live with a Prowler doing DD duty, not something really said about Viper. Prowlers were purchased as fun weekend rides. They shouldn't be compared to muscle cars or rat rods. They should be compared with other purchased hot rods that don't do any serious track time. In that case they should look cool and be fun to drive and the Prowler is all that. It is also something rare and special in the modern automotive world.
The Plymouth Prowler was a radical show car that would preview a design language, it would be a test bed of technology and manufacturing techniques. A car like Prowler would also be a vehicle that normally wouldn't see road duty in a customer's hands. Mother Mopar did build it and sell it even though they never expected a profit from it. This was started in the early 1990s, a different time in the automotive landscape. Chrysler was still a separate independent corporation, selling FWD full-size LH cars. This was long before the new generation HEMI. The writing was also on the wall for Plymouth. Inside Chrysler they knew Plymouth couldn't continue as rebadged Dodges. This 5 year limited edition car program would be an exciting sign of the direction the new Plymouth would take. It was never intended to have a V8. The development of more powerful and efficient V6 engines was Chrysler's focus for Plymouth. Unfortunately the brand Plymouth wouldn't survive to see it's planned bright future. Prowler would survive eventually becoming a Chrysler.
After a few years as a popular auto-show darling in June of 1997 Prowler becomes a production car available at your local Plymouth dealer. All first year Prowlers sport a purple aluminum body with a 3.5 iron block V6 producing 214hp. Underneath is an aluminum chassis and suspension gear. Prowler would also have a rear trans-axle like the revolutionary C5 Corvette. Zero to 60mph came in 7.1 seconds, with a 1/4 mile time of 15.3 seconds. That probably feels pretty good with the wind in your hair. There would be no 1998 Prowler as Plymouth engineers couldn't put the final touches and certify the all new aluminum engine in time. For 1999 the all aluminum 3.5 V6 would put out a little more than 250hp, with revised transmission tuning the 2,780 pound roadster was good for 0 to 60mph at 5.7 seconds and the 1/4 mile at 14.3 making the Prowler competitive with the V8 Mustang GT. The sexy Prowler didn't just look quick, it felt quick. From 1999 through 2002 changes to Prowler were mostly paint colors added and dropped, and suspension tuning. The cars sold quickly and often in the earlier years significantly above MSRP.
Prowler owners quickly dismiss comments about needing a V8. They say the power to weight ratio provides them a fun, fast car that bystanders still admire. Advice for you single guys get a Prowler have a Golden Retriever riding shotgun, you’ll be a hit with the ladies. Some parts are becoming a challenge to get, fortunately the online Prowler community is pretty robust with fellow travelers helping each other out. Expect to pay $25K for a nice solid driver, for another $10K you get a perfect show winner.
Prowler has enough cargo room for clean underwear and socks, for those doing a long road trip pick up the snazzy matching trailer. The Prowler already has the tow hitch. (Correction)The Prowler did not come with a tow hitch, that was a Mopar parts dealer item.
In a world of blantastic CUV/SUV I’m glad there are people out there driving Prowlers.
If there was ever something unworthy of it's name or title it has to be the malaise era Dodge Charger Daytona. I might also walk bare foot over crushed glass or hot coals to score a deal on a nice one with T-tops. Properly equipped the Fake Daytona can be a real fun car to own and drive, still the Dodge Boys should have called it an R/T.
It was a dark time for the muscle car marques. A trifecta of challenges, the Automotive Axis of Evil, 1. new government emissions standards, 2. staggering insurance rates, 3. the first OPEC oil embargo. This toxic combination killed the muscle car. Product planners came up with the personal luxury coupe. Mid-size two door cars focused on comfort, features and styling that said class instead of fast. The Chevy Monte Carlo is a great example. Over at Highland Park the Chrysler Cordoba would carry the personal luxury banner with great success. At Dodge there was confusion. The Dodge Boys would get an all new Charger to replace the 1974 that had existed in some form since 1971. What they got was a Cordoba with the Charger name affixed to the fenders.
Below is the Cordoba and pitchman Khan Noonien Singh. One of the cars is the 1975 Charger, can you spot it?
The Charger unlike the Cordoba clearly had a sporting, muscle car reputation. Yes the Charger had a semi-luxury trim level, the SE that dates back to 1969. Yes, there were many bread and butter stripper Chargers for those light on coin, with the 318 2 barrel or even the occasional Slant Six. The Charger made it's name on the rip-snorting big block motored muscle cars and the NASCAR super speedways. For 1975 the Charger SE body didn't match the reputation, at launch all Chargers were SE. Introduced mid-year was the Daytona package which attempted to tap the Charger cachet. Swing and a miss. This Daytona had nothing in common with it's NASCAR homologation predecessors. It was a paint and decal option, bucket seats, and performance radial tires were also part of the Daytona trim. What wasn't standard on the Daytona were engines topped with 4 barrel carburetors or even a heavy duty suspension. Front and rear sway bars were standard equipment. While the four speed manual transmission was still available you could only get the Torqueflite automatic with the 4 barrel performance engines. Still if you check the right boxes on the order sheet you'd have a fun ride. For example the 360 or 400 4 barrel V8s, trailer towing package with the Sure Grip rear differential. Get the factory sliding sunroof.
For 1976 Charger would adopt a second body to join the SE. Basically renaming the former 1975 Coronet 2 door as Charger and Charger Sport. This basic body skin served as the Road Runner for 1975. It looked sportier, Dodge should have used this car as the basis for a Charger R/T. Instead Dodge trotted out Daytona once again, basically unchanged. For 1977 the T-top option became available. Charger SE would soldier on one last time for 1978 but with the new Dodge Magnum taking the performance mantel Daytona was no longer available.
Now as you read through this you may have gotten the impression I'm not a fan of the Disco Era Dodge Daytona. I think they are great cars for getting into the classic Mopar hobby on a limited budget. Most of them seem to have left the factory with either the 360 or 400 4 barrel, engines easy to massage more power from. Under the skin these are basically a Mopar B-body with great aftermarket parts availability. Get one with a sunroof or T-tops, you'll have an awesome summer time cruiser. That is a great base for all the hot rod wrench turning you can do. Bonus, your Charger will be the only one at Cars 'N Coffee, also easy to find at big Mopar shows. A really nice driver will set you back around $9K with all the bells and whistles.
For 17 years I lived in Enid, Oklahoma. Great little town, BTW. At one time I even owned and operated a full service cigar lounge there. I could go on about the downtown dinning and live theatre but it wasn't all roses and sunshine in Enid. There was a horrible dark secret. Something so damn sad yet I'd wager it went unnoticed by most who lived there. Imagine a homeless hoarder that lived in a broken down van. A broken down van that limped around, it's engine coughing and wheezing with the exhaust system hanging low held on by wire hanger. Now imagine this van is a white 25th anniversary Pontiac Trans Am with T-tops. I'd see this car packed with debris almost daily, everywhere around town, often outside the public library. I'd be driving my Challenger SRT8 or Wrangler Rubicon, which is to say my garage was full. Yet I wanted to save this poor car. I felt sick seeing it. Wondering what if some young gun good with wrenches owned it. MY GOD MAN DRIVE A CAMRY!
Apologies, I'll get a hold of my self. 1994 was a good year for the Trans Am which like many American sporting machines was rising from the ashes of the malaise dumpster fire. It was also the 25th anniversary of the Poncho pony car legend. Pontiac product planners wanted to celebrate with something appropriately special. 2,000 limited edition 25th Anniversary package cars were allotted. They all sold quickly. They all were painted white with a blue stripe as a homage to the original first year 1969 Trans Am. Speaking to High Performance Pontiac, design chief Jack Folden mentioned the design team being proud of the new 1993 body. So they wanted to be careful not to over badge the car, letting the new body work be the star. Jack also mentioned that in the late '80s and early '90s Pontiac was doing a lot with body colored wheels. So white 16x8 inch wheels were a no brainer.
All 25th Anniversary models started as a fully optioned Trans Am GT. Then received the mainly aesthetic commemorative upgrades. All were equipped with the relatively new LT1 engine from the Corvette, good for 300 horse power. Due to the F-Body's more restrictive intake and exhaust the 350 cid engine made 275 horse power in the T/A, with a compression ratio of 10.5:1. A four speed automatic or six speed manual were the transmission choices. Good for low to mid 14 second 1/4 mile times. A nice driver should set you back around $13.5K with an excellent #2 car around $18K. Maybe offer the offer the homeless guy $2.5K and the old Camry your kid doesn't drive anymore?
Looking around there are decent deals to be had. You have to skim past the dreamers priced way out of line.
John is a GenX car enthusiast who grew up driving classic muscle cars. He enjoys the new modern muscle cars that can out perform the classics in every way. In the sportscar world his banners are Viper and Corvette. John has a guilty pleasure. The disco era street machine. Those unloved, underpowered cars festooned with scoops, spoilers and stripes.