Digestible Collectible: 2001 Chrysler Prowler

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 2001 chrysler prowler

I’ve a little confession to make: I’m not really a big fan of hot rods. Some of that may be my age, as I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, when imported sports cars were generally a preferred means of automotive expression.

Alternatively, the overall “ People of Walmart” vibe I get when attending any sort of hot rod event has, by juxtaposition, possibly soured the entire genre for me.

So, count me among those who didn’t drool over the Prowler when it was released in 1997. An overstyled modern interpretation of a ’32 Ford roadster, powered by a Chrysler V-6? In the immortal words of Lisa Simpson, meh.

The years may have changed me a bit, though, as well as an appreciation of the high-tech aluminum chassis that was years ahead of its time. This 2001 Chrysler Prowler doesn’t look too bad to my eyes.

The deep blue paint makes the car as subtle as any Prowler can ever be, though I kinda dig the purple that was all over the first run of cars. These ’99 and newer cars had the benefit of a more powerful V6, with 253 horsepower rather than 214, and thus were significantly quicker.

The interior is, frankly, sad. It’s at once familiar to anyone who has driven a ’90s-era Mopar, and to anyone who has skimmed an aftermarket performance parts catalog. Take a look at that tiny Autometer tachometer haphazardly placed atop the steering column. That’s a factory piece, not added on. The five gauge cluster centered on the dash is equally cheesy looking. I understand that parts-bin engineering is required for low-volume cars, but this is sad.

It’s not like I could ever use a Prowler daily driver as the transaxle is located in its rear making luggage space minimal at best. Have any other OEMs ever offered matching trailers to expand the trunk?

As much as I want to hate the dated styling, indifferent interior, and poor usability, I can’t truly hate the Prowler. It seems to be holding value, as this one for $21,000 seems to be near the bottom of the market. Good ones trade for over $30,000.

Incidentally, the always-reliable Wikipedia page for the Prowler mentions that the bonded-aluminum body was produced in Shadyside, Ohio, then shipped to Conner Avenue in Detroit for final assembly. Several other sites around the web have blindly repeated the Wiki. Allpar, a great reference otherwise for Mopar history, mentions nothing of Shadyside, a small town along the Ohio River not far from my wife’s hometown.

Does anyone have more details about this?

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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  • Zososoto Zososoto on Jan 13, 2016

    I actually condone that they put the V6 in it. I've' driven the 3.2 and the 3.5 in the FWD Dodge Intrepids and they pull that sedan very well. They needed something they could pair with the compact transaxle that they had, and the V6 fit the bill. Obviously, everyone would have preferred the V8 for the sake of heritage and engine sound, but the V6 was probably the right choice for the project. Your inner child screams no but it's true.

  • Irieite Irieite on Jan 13, 2016

    Chassis was too long and it needed a manual transmission to really hit most of the marks.

  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.
  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van