The Plymouth Prowler, later the Chrysler Prowler, is a retro-styled production car manufactured and marketed from 1997 to 2002 by DaimlerChrysler, based on the 1993 concept car of the same name.
The Prowler was offered in a single generation in a front-engine, rear-drive, rear-transmission configuration — with an overall production of 11,702.
Chrysler engineers were given free rein to design whatever they wanted in a "hot rod" or "sportster" type vehicle. Thomas C. Gale, Chrysler's design and international director "love for 1930s-era hot rods inspired Chrysler's latest design triumph, the retro-styled Plymouth Prowler." Gale, "who has a hotted up 1932 Ford in his garage, ... [approved] the rod-inspired Plymouth Prowler as the company's follow-up show-stopper to the Dodge Viper. An early influence is credited to a Chrysler-sponsored project at the Art Center College of Design that resulted in a thesis by Douglas "Chip" Foose that included drawings of a retro-roadster. Foose "designed it as a coupe for Chrysler to begin with but modified it to a roadster version."
One of the most striking design features of the Prowler are the open, Indy racer-style front wheels. The Prowler featured a powertrain from Chrysler's LH-cars, a 24-valve, 3.5 L Chrysler SOHC V6 engine producing 214 hp (160 kW; 217 PS) at 5850 rpm. For the 1999 model year, the engine was replaced with a more powerful, aluminum-block, 253 hp (189 kW; 257 PS) at 6400 rpm version of the engine. Both engines were coupled to a four-speed Autostick semi-automatic transmission. The transmission was located at the rear of the vehicle and joined to the engine by a torque tube that rotated at engine speed, an arrangement similar to that used by the C5 Corvette, Porsche 944, and Alfa Romeo 75, and helped to facilitate a desirable 50-50 front-rear weight distribution. The Prowler was the first rear-wheel drive Plymouth since the 1989 Plymouth Gran Fury and would stand as the last Plymouth model with that layout. While criticized for having only a V6 engine, Chrysler's High Output 3.5 had a horsepower rating similar to (or higher than) the company's Magnum V8s of that era. While not making nearly as much torque as a V8, Prowler's light weight helped to achieve rapid off-the-line acceleration.
The car prominently featured aluminum construction, in many cases adhesively bonded, chiefly in the chassis. The body was produced in Shadyside, Ohio, and the car was assembled by hand at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (CAAP) in Detroit, Michigan.