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Is $55,000 for Plymouth Prowler crazy or the new normal?


#1

When the Plymouth Prowler was new in 1999, two years after it launched, it cost $39,300. That’s nearly $60K in 2018 money, and at the turn of the millenium that was a tough sell for such an outlandish-looking retro rod with barely any trunk and a measly V-6 engine. Nearly 20 years on, an excellent-condition Prowler with 23,000 miles just sold for $55,000 at auction—well north of what even elite-level concours-condition Prowlers usually cost. So what’s happening here?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/11/21/plymouth-prowler-sells-for-55k

#2

"Is $55,000 for Plymouth Prowler crazy or the new normal?"
Easy…crazy.
V6, auto, slow, mass-produced. Has ‘poser’ written all over it so it was silly even when new. And I was the demographic it was aimed at. Yep…it was kind of insulting…IMO.


#3

I thought they were awesome when they came out, but I was not yet a teenager so anything that wasn’t a four-door or a truck was cool. Now I still don’t know how to feel about the Prowler. There was such opportunity for it to be a really cool car, but what actually rolled out of the factories is hard to get excited about.


#4

@Kyle
You know thinking about it Chrysler just may have learned their lesson with the Prowler as evidenced by the Hellcat and it’s successor the Demon. Seems like it’s targeted at that same market segment of relatively small group of 40-55 yr old males that can afford an impractical second vehicle…except now these come “go” along with the “show”.


#5

@Jim-R You make a good point. The Hellcat/Demon are nostalgia marketed yet somehow still appeal to younger audiences as well. Even if folks can’t afford them, it creates a solid second market years down the road when they get disposable income. I would draw a comparison to the LS6 Chevelles of old. They were top of the food chain for many buyers, but darn expensive which meant they got lusted after for quite some time.


#6

Everytime I read a comment like this. I can’t but think back to Bob Lutz on stage introducing the Plymonth Prowler. “Those who don’t get or don’t like it, never will…and that’s fine with us!”


#7

@allcityfive
What a wonderful rationalization for the car! What color was your’s?


#8

Ironically the Prowler was the means to the Hellcat/ Demon. Its served as a platform to advance Chrysler’s study not only in design language, but also in pushing the envelope in light weight materials application. The Prowler was not about taking an existing design and then making it an alternative version. Rather, starting with the clean canvas and developing a vehicle and the requisite process technology so that the Prowler is a production car, not a one-off. For example, commercial aircraft use rivets. Cars, on the other hand, have been welded, typically with resistance welding. The Chrysler engineers questioned traditional methods …welds. Although there is welding on the Prowler a prime example is the aluminum frame, the spot welds were replaced by rivets. Problem, rivets take longer to apply than spot welds, and since cycle time is key in automotive, there was a concern about the riveting time requirement. So it was a matter of pushing that technology forward. Rivets are placed on the Prowler in a one-second cycle. interesting aspect of using this mechanical joining method: sheets of different thicknesses can be put together. But then there is the issue of stiffness. Which led to the need to utilize epoxy adhesives. Which resulted in a combination of technologies, with rivets used in combination with adhesives. The result is a structure with a stiffness that’s improved by 40%. Ordinarily, car frames are steel that’s been stamped or roll formed. In the case of the Prowler, the components are extrusions and castings produced with aluminum alloys, T6 tempered. The pieces were then joined with MIG welding. Which was quite a bit of welding: 105 feet of MIG welding per frame. Interesting note. Arc welding is something that’s usually avoided whenever possible when working with steel, due to warping concerns. The assembled aluminum frame was measured post-welding; any deviations from nominal dimensions are corrected through machining. That’s right: the entire frame was fixtured and milled. More than 900 pounds of of the Prowlers 2,780 curb weight comprised of aluminum. It represented “how to make a car” in another sense. Utilizing an aluminum 3.5L sohc naturally aspirated V6 and converting a front wheel drivetrain to a rear wheel transaxle. Utlizing a F1 style pushrod suspension with aluminum double wishbone and onboard Koni coiloversin the front. And an independent double-wishbone suspension in the rear with Compsite aluminum rear disk. The Prowler receives a ton of attention for it’s unique design that stands out from the bland cookie cutter’s so prevalent in todays automotive landscape. a poser it is not! When the Prowler was killed off. The Prowler team in conjunction with the Viper team formed Performance vehicle operations. Which later became SRT……BTW Mollhound Blue


#9

@allcityfive
None of the very interesting review of manufacturing processes is what prompted Lutz to preemptively proclaim that there would be “those that don’t get it or don’t like it”. He KNEW it was a poser car.
And I made the point earlier in the thread that lessons were apparently learned by Chrysler in the Prowler’s deserved (IMO) failure when bringing out the retro Challenger and it’s descendants.


#10

A platform to advance Chrysler’s study not only in design language, but also in pushing the envelope in light weight materials application. Not sure how you incorporate that as failure. Particularity when it was the catalyst for advance lightweight applications that all SRT products benefit from today. The Prowler also helped to create excitement and foot traffic in dealerships, and Plymonth/Chrsyler was able to sell every hand built Prowler made. Even extending the program due to constant demand. Poser comes to mind when I see a super car owner that only drives his high performance car once a month to the local cars and Coffee. Or the guy that mods his car as to gain the attention of fellow car guys. Bob Lutz 1st line was the Prowler was an exercise in polarity. Those who don’t get, never will


#11

@dupreefive0,
I don’t regard Chrysler’s design efforts, processes or materials usage as a failure. On the contrary, lessons were apparently learned. But a real modern-day hotrod it isn’t. BTW, I don’t think Chrysler was the only one to use a retro design for attention that ultimately disappointed many of us. And I agree with your examples of people being posers.
Regardless, as has been said by others, there’s a bum for every seat.


#12

The lessons were learned so much that the only pony car that continues to exceed sales growth year after year is the 10 year old retro designed Dodge Challenger. Ford’s 5th gen reto- designed Mustang out sold the modern design 6th gen Mustang. Chevy’s 5th gen retro-designed Camaro also out sold it’s modern 6th gen follow up. And Chrysler sold 1.35 million PT cruisers world wide…So yea! I suggest before you characterize what is and what is not a modern day Hot rod (compared to what?). Experience some top down seat time in a Prowler. I guarantee your will walk away with a smile on your face….


#13

@allcityfive
:+1: Maybe so.


#14

I have to agree with allcityfive. Until you have had one, you have no experience to speak from…nothing more than a bench racer, especially the attempts at insulting the car and the division that produced it. Not trying to trash you in any way, it is just obvious from your posts that this is nothing more than a person’s opinions with minimal experience with this car.

You do not have to like the car, but please before you offer your [obvious] uninformed jabs, please do some research at least at to what the car stood for. If you think it is all about looks, you are very, very misinformed. And as far as performance, please do not compare it’s performance to modern-day sports cars. You need to compare it to cars of it’s own time, i.e. 97-02. You will find that cars during this period also did not sport the Hellcat type performance either, but you would be hard pressed to call these cars boring simply because something is faster today. If you want to use that logic, then the Tesla is perhaps one of the best sports cars of all time…and I and many others would beg to differ with you. Each car has to be taken on it’s own merits, and that can only be had with a lot of research as well as an intimate relationship with that car. This is one of those cars. And yes, I am a Prowler owner…as well as several other cars as well. Do I have a favorite? Nope…each is my favorite in their own way, which I why I have them.


#15

Well Dan, since you want to bring this back…
What it stood for was corporate attention-seeking. In that it was arguably a success. All the rest is rationalization.
As I said, despite appearance that promised performance, 0-60 in 7 seconds and 0-100 in almost 26 seconds isn’t remarkable even when compared to it’s contemporaries. < .85 g. cornering performance is just OK. A turbo PT Cruiser was just as fast off the line and did .80 with FWD. And again the Prowler could be had only with an automatic. As much as you’d like to dismiss that as a “jab” it is objective fact.
Regardless of some glorious production methods, most it seems carried out not by Chrysler but by their suppliers, it’s a poser car. It was designed to get attention…like the stereotype silicone bleach-blond. But look beneath the surface and that intimate relationship you talk about seems damn superficial. No stimulating conversation and pretty soon all you’re left with is make-up on the pillow. If that’s enough to make you happy, great. But it’s a poser. I don’t need to own one to be able to see and share that. Smallish production numbers (~ 12k total doesn’t make it rare) and styling might keep prices up, at least in short term for speculators. But an enthusiast’s car it is not. IMO, referring back to the title of this tread, 55k for one is crazy.


#16

$55k too high? maybe? it is in the end worth what someone is willing to pay…Poser car? maybe? I just bought a 2001 Prowler. The car is not meant to be crazy Hellcat fast or handle like a 911…it IS a FUN weekend cruiser. Styling is fantastic. Drive quality is just fine. I have a 911 if I want to go faster and need that driving experience. The thing draws a crowd and thumbs up EVERYWHERE I drive it…nothing wrong with that!