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Friday, May 13, 2011

Neutral Bomb: Plymouth Prowler

I have a love/hate relationship with this car, and seeing one just the other night reminded me just how on the fence I am about it. I want to like this car, but I just can't bring myself to say that I do.

When I was a kid, I put together a plastic model of the Prowler and absolutely loved the hot rod lines that this car invokes, and I still do. For something built in the late 90's, it'll still catch your eye going down the highway.

Given it's time, overall performance wasn't terrible. The 99-2002 Prowlers were capable of a 0-60 times of around 5.7-5.9 seconds. The car weighed in under 3,000 lbs, at about 2,800, helped considerably by the 800+ pounds of aluminum used for the body. Couple that with some 17" front / 20" rear wheels and you're off to a good start for the hot rod recipe, right?

Wrong. Several things kill me about this car, the first being the powertrain. While performance numbers aren't terrible, for something that is supposed to be a modern take on the hot rod, it should have been given a proper V-8, not some measly 6 cylinder picked from the Concord/300M/Intrepid of the time. The 3.5L at best saw 253 HP and 255 ft-lbs of torque. In addition, the only available transmission for this car was a 4 speed auto, disappointing.

Solution! Enter the Plymouth Howler, a concept debuted at SEMA '99. The Howler worked to address the limited storage space, aka no truck, but more importantly, it gave the Prowler the missing pieces it so desperately needed. Under the hood was the 4.7L V-8 mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. True that the 4.7 had about the same amount of horses as the V-6 (250), but the V-8 excelled because it offered 300 ft-lbs at 3,000 RPM.

Sadly, while the Howler was the car that many wanted right off the bat, it never saw the light of day due to poor sales.......go figure for something that retailed from $38,300 to $44,625 depending what year you purchased.

Now, did you know that the inspiration for the Prowler came from none other than Mr. Chip Foose, who penned the design in 1990? It wasn't until SEMA '06 that a concept of the HEMISFEAR debuted and it was nothing short of a grand slam.

Now this is what I'm talking about! Motivated by a 392 crate engine from Dodge, this sweet ride will give you 540 HP and 490 ft-lbs of torque, coupled to a 5 speed manual transaxle.....did I mention it's also a mid engine vehicle?

It's impossible to compare apples to apples when you pit a $40,000 production vehicle against one that has a limited run of 50, selling for around $300,000, but I just wanted to share with you what the Prowler originally was.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be saluting the folks over at Performance Innovations for finally offering a more affordable solution, and allowing me to finally see a Prowler that I can freely admit that I like....if they could only lose the ugly hood.

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