The Reason The Plymouth Prowler Was A Failure

The Plymouth Prowler was one of the craziest looking American cars from the 1990s and early 2000s. Arguably, it's one of the wildest looking cars from any decade ever. 

Prowlers were simultaneously cutting edge and straight out of the hot rod scene from several decades ago. Depending on who you talk to, the Prowler is either incredibly ugly like the retro-styled PT Cruiser, or a piece of automotive design history that died too soon. The Prowler was only around between the 1997 and 2002 model years. After Plymouth folded in 2001, the last Prowlers were sold as Chrysler Prowlers (via Edmunds). From a glance, the Prowler looks like it was designed after Ford hot rod from the 1930s

Actually driving the Prowler was another thing entirely. With its aggressive stance and mean looking grille, one might expect a fire breathing V8 straight out of a muscle car. Instead, it was stuck with a 3.5L V6 turning a sad 214 horsepower during the first model years. It wasn't even decked out with a manual transmission. The Prowler's bark was worse than its bite to an exponential degree.

An aluminum monstrosity

As the design indicates, the Prowler was not designed to be a mass-market car. It's hard to imagine most people walking into a Plymouth dealership and getting excited about the idea of one in their driveway. According to Car and Driver, the Prowler was actually a side effect of what Chrysler was working on at the time. While aluminum components are normal now in automotive production, that was not the case over 20 years ago. The Plymouth was one of the first cars constructed mostly out of aluminum. 

Despite looking like a life-size Hot Wheels car, Prowlers enjoy fairly healthy auction results. In May of this year, a Prowler with a scant 900 miles on the odometer brought in $50,000 at auction on Bring a Trailer. And earlier this month a Prowler and matching trailer went for over $33,000 on the same site.

As a car, the Prowler failed. It was uncomfortable to drive, and the strange cockpit layout was disorienting. Not to mention it had a weak engine, no manual transmission, and looked bizarre. All told, Chrysler sold less than 12,000 Prowlers (via Car and Driver). But when it came to making strides in the use of aluminum in cars, the Prowler's sacrifice was not in vain.