In these post-bailout days, we’ll probably never again see OEM cars like this silky Plymouth Prowler. In fact, in an industry that continues to become more and more conformist in nature, most major automakers have put a complete moratorium on concepts and show cars that do not directly relate to mass-produced models. Need proof? The 2013 Chicago International Auto Show was this past week, and all the collective auto manufacturers had to offer us was a few slightly updated grocery getters and a whole lot of stripes and stickers. That seems like a gloomy outlook, but all is not lost; especially if you’re reading this page! As one of the growing number of people who appreciates the art of great car design, you know where to go to get your octane-fueled fix. And when you pick up a future classic like this 95 mile Plymouth roadster, you can enjoy the best of prized risqué design AND new car reliability! So what are you waiting for? Come on in, sign some paperwork and head to the local cruise spot!
Originally penned by Chrysler engineers who were given free rein to create whatever they wanted in a sportster type vehicle, this pristine Plymouth drop top is a super slick roadster that exhibits the perfect combination of hot rod style and advanced technology. Today, after years of fastidious work to keep its two-stage urethane clean and ultra-shiny, the car’s bright factory body looks brand new in virtually every way. And speaking of that bright factory body, it’s one of only 545 silver Plymouth Prowlers built for the 2001 model year. Judging by this roadster’s mirror-like reflections, it’s probably never seen rain or, for that matter, been outside a climate controlled garage long enough to know what sunshine is. Since all Prowlers were completely hand assembled at Chrysler’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan, these roadsters typically show stellar fit and above average build quality. And this one, with its narrow gaps, solid-closing doors and tight-sealing top, looks and feels better than most cars twice our asking price!
Like the old school street rods that inspired it, this Prowler swaps chrome trim and flowery ornamentation for an all-business appearance that wraps custom looks around OEM quality. At the front of the car, contrasting black bumpers hang crystal clear parking lights just ahead of Indy-style wheels, composite projector beam headlamps and a heritage-inspired grille. Above that grille, a graphite Plymouth emblem is centered on a pointed hood which leads your eye to pristine factory glass that’s complete with an integrated windshield antenna. Behind that antenna, a black cloth top hangs a glass rear window between aerodynamic, body-matched mirrors and flared rocker panels that do a great job of mimicking classic running boards. Behind those running boards, rolled rear fenders feature smooth-fitting tail lights that are straight out of the hot rodder’s handbook. And at the back of the car, a trunk-mounted center high mount stop lamp rides above two more black bumpers which, in typical street rod fashion, leave plenty of room to display the car’s pristine stainless exhaust.
When the Prowler finally hit the streets, many purists were upset that a V6 was the only powertrain option. What those purists failed to realize was: 1) with 253 horsepower and 250 lb./ft. of torque, this car’s 3.5 liter 24-valve SOHC V6 was making virtually the same power as Chrysler’s Magnum V8s at the time and 2) when combined with the car’s lightweight chassis and low center of gravity, it made some very impressive performance numbers. Mechanically, this Plymouth’s all-aluminum engine is showroom new in just about every possible way. Naturally, the mill has benefitted from basic maintenance but, beyond that, everything is essentially fresh out of the box. It certainly appears that the car has been properly maintained and driven often enough to keep everything in top operating condition. And not only does the smooth sixer fire up instantly, it also idles perfectly and moves this relatively lightweight roadster with real authority.
Behind that buff V6, a 42LE 4-speed automatic transaxle, which features an ‘AutoStick’ gear change setting, is more of a toy than a functional performance improvement. But it fits the Prowler’s persona perfectly, and far more of today’s “real” hot rods are built with automatics than stick shifts. So, who can blame Chrysler for doing their homework and giving the public what it wants? That road ready drivetrain is held off the ground by an aluminum-intensive chassis which is equipped with an independent double A-arm front suspension and an independent multi-link rear suspension. Dynamic Suspensions coil over shocks at all four corners combine with front and rear stabilizer bars and power rack and pinion steering to carve curves for lunch and eat potholes for dinner. Stops come courtesy of composite four wheel disc brakes which feature 11 inch rotors up front and 13 inch rotors out back. And all that advanced hardware results in a perfect 50/50 weight distribution which makes this roadster an absolute pleasure to drive. The engine growls a rowdy, throaty exhaust note through two fat pipes which exit just under the car’s rear bumpers. And, for a bit of flash, this Prowler spins 225/45R17 front and 295/40R20 rear Goodyear Eagle GS-Ds around stylish chrome wheels.
Slide inside this hunkered down roadster and you’ll find an Ebony leather interior that successfully doubles as both a comfortable cruise spot and a stylish, retro-inspired showpiece. At the center of the cockpit, the driver and passenger benefit from plush leather buckets that are stitched around monochromatic Prowler logos. In front of the driver, an Auto Meter tachometer is perched top-dead-center on a tilt steering column that props redundant audio buttons opposite cruise control buttons via a factory steering wheel. At the front of the car, a center-mounted 150 MPH speedometer and four small accessory gauges, the voltmeter and oil pressure gauge to the left and the fuel and temperature gauges to the right, ride inside a silver instrument panel that’s a great tribute to vintage hot rods of all kinds. Beneath that bright dash, a short factory shifter controls Chrysler’s highly regarded AutoStick feature. Naturally, the windows, locks and mirrors are all power operated. And a superb 320-watt, seven speaker sound system comes standard with a 6-disc CD changer that’s located just behind the passenger seat.
The sale of this yet-to-be-titled roadster includes the car’s original Buyer’s Order, the car’s original Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin, an official Test Mileage Statement, and an original owner''s manual and audio CD.
Cars like this pristine Plymouth Prowler are only going to get more expensive from here on out; that’s almost a certainty. They’re an interesting footnote to a cool period in automotive history when Detroit was really feeling bold and had a lot of swagger. And all of that completely overlooks the fact that this modern street rod is a darned fun car to drive! Unique, risqué, and beautiful, this Prowler deserves a home with someone who fully appreciates the art of automotive design.