1999 Plymouth Prowler (204)


It doesn’t matter what your age; you have to love this Plymouth Prowler, now in its second year of production. Just when I thought cars were getting boring, Chrysler makes a statement that a major manufacturer can build exciting cars. This Prowler will capture your imagination. The movie LA Story came to mind for me, and especially the scene where Steve Martin is in a Santa Barbara hotel with a much too young friend and has the occasion to exclaim “I’m young”! In fact what you’ll notice driving this Prowler is that little kids will be especially attracted to this car more than any you’ve driven. Son Mike told me why. Dad, dah! They like it because it looks like the “hot wheels” colorful little model cars they play with. Easy for him to know. But once he said it I knew instantly Chrysler’s idea of making the first ever production hot rod is genius. Even the air bags are “next generation”. For the little kids their tiny car’s come alive and I have to tell you, their smiles are worth the price of admission. I was driving by the Old Town Pasadena Weekly office one day and a little boy in his Karate robe with mom and sister said it all – “cool car”.

Well if you haven’t noticed, I just love this car. I tell everyone it is in the top five of the best ever cars I’ve driven. How do I love this car? Let me count the ways.

It’s yellow. No, really. They couldn’t have picked a better color. My daughter’s neighbor, Hans from Sweden said, “ya that is really yellow. It voke me yup ven you drove into the drive vay.” Hans is cool too.

The design is a mix of nostalgic ’30s Ford Roadster and space age technology. They put in some obvious high tech stuff like the stunning molded instrument cluster on the dash but also threw in subtle touches like the tachometer that is conspicuously mounted on the steering column like you bought it at Trak Auto and put it there yourself. Even the wire shows. Really, Chrysler designers at Pacifica (just north of San Diego, CA) deserve a raise for this one. And they probably would have gotten one if they had figured a way to include some trunk space. You’ll crack up when you see the trunk. Just stop an owner and ask them to see the trunk. Really, I’m serious; it’s ok to do that. I was in a Chevron gas station in La Canada and this guy made a U-turn, parked the car and came over to me and started asking questions, like “how did you ever get one of these? I’ve been trying to buy one and can’t find one under $70,000”. Say what! I know V-dubs are going for at least $5K over window, but read my lips, the car has an MSRP of less than $40K. It’s errie, like you can hear a voice out of the blue whispering, “build it and they will come”.

The engine? It’s perfect for this car. Any more power and it would detract from the real purpose of owning this comfortable cruiser. For people who appreciate this car, cruising Bob’s speaks volumes.

The “rag top”? Easy to put down and stows neatly to transform the car into the roadster it is. In California, it’s beach time anytime and the drive will once again be as enjoyable as the cool breezes, hot sand and refreshing dips in the surf. You won’t even mind the traffic.

The overall feeling is nothing short of wonderful. At night you’ll turn on the lights and be enchanted by the turquoise glow from the instrument panel that will launch you back in time to the ‘50s and 60s. You’ll wonder why you can’t get a ‘car hop’ to come out and take your order for a Big Boy hamburger and fries with catsup and a cherry Coke. Boy was this a trip down memory lane.

The competition:

There is none, in my estimation. This is a one of a kind car. Surely it is the first and I predict it won’t be the last production rods. Just like the sport utilities, more of the major carmakers will have to get on the “band wagon”, or they’ll miss a golden opportunity.

Good News: 

It’s new, exciting and clearly different. Fun to drive. All the advantages of owning a classic rod with none of the disadvantages.

Bad News:

Small trunk space. They can’t make them fast enough so the going price is higher than it should be.

Standard Equipment:

3.5 liter V6 253 horsepower engine, 4-speed automatic transmission with autostick, 4-wheel disc brakes, power rack & pinion steering, dual air bags with passenger on/off switch, air conditioning, power windows, tilt steering wheel and remote keyless entry.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 23 Highway MPG.


MSRP is $39,300.

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