By on March 19, 2019

Once upon a time in the early 2000s, a special convergence of factors created three very special cars. The most important element in the cars’ creation was the motoring public’s desire for things that appeared “retro” in the early part of the millennium. This retro desire occurred around the same time as some meetings in Michigan, where executives at the Big Three surely conducted consumer clinics with retired old men.

Remember, you can only burn one of these.

Unfortunately, we don’t have perfect overlap today with model years, so the target year is 2003.

Chevrolet SSR

Did you ever want a convertible pickup truck with styling from the Fifties? Me neither, but GM offered up the SSR anyway. Available for model years 2003 to 2006, the SSR rode on a platform derived from the GMT360, better known as the TrailBlazer. The first two model years sourced a 5.3-liter V8 from the Tahoe, while the 2005 and 2006 models utilized the 6.0-liter LS2 from the Corvette. Today’s 2003 example pairs the 5.3 to a four-speed automatic for genuine old-man cruising about town.

Ford Thunderbird

Ford brought the legendary Thunderbird name back for the 2002 through 2005 model years, following a hiatus in the latter half of the 1990s. Residing on a DEW98 platform used by the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type, the 11th generation T-Bird was a two-seat-only affair. They were all convertibles, though many had the optional hardtop fitted and never removed. All Thunderbirds received the Jaguar-designed 3.9-liter AJ V8, paired to a five-speed automatic. It was the perfect coupe for gliding to Cracker Barrel at 4:45 p.m. The trunk has plenty of room for wooden knick-knacks.

Plymouth Prowler

In a unique offering from the end of the Plymouth brand’s life, Chrysler debuted the ultra-retro styled Prowler for the 1997 model year. Inspired by hot rods, the Prowler was intended to shock the buying public in the same manner as the Viper. And it worked (or not)! Under hood was the spicy 3.5-liter V6 from the Dodge Intrepid, as well as its four-speed automatic. Made of aluminum, the chassis was constructed in Ohio. Final assembly occurred by hand in Detroit. All examples were of the roadster variety, meaning two seats and a cloth folding roof. Plymouth passed away with the 2000 model year, so for ’01 and ’02, the Prowler became a Chrysler. Recall the good old days in your hot rod Intrepid Prowlcat.

Three early 2000s retro things; which goes home to your climate-controlled garage?

[Images: GM, Ford, Chrysler]

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88 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: Old Man Garage Queens From the Early 2000s...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    Can we park them closely together so burning only one spreads?

    Actually, I’ve always thought the T-Bird to be adorably feminine, elegant and dainty… everything I’d want to keep any woman I cared for well away from given today’s traffic.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Buy: Prowler, unique most likely we will never see a factory built car like this again.

    Drive: SSR, Easy parts replacements, no need to be concerned when you put miles on it that you have to go all Tucker Torpedo on yourself and find a CnC machine to re-create your own parts.

    Burn: Thunderbird, not sure what to say other than I thought they were hideous when they first arrived on the seen and still do today.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      There will never be a factory car like the Vega again either. I’m OK with that. Sometimes dead is better.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I agree with you 87 and not the others who disagree.. haha.

      The prowler is a beautiful, special car. I would love to own one, and I’m not alone because their resale is ridiculously high. I always thought I’d buy one when the prices drop but they don’t. They are too loved! While its a very cool, pretty car, all the reviews I’ve read said its not a great driver… so I’ll buy it like you, and store it in my garage.

      The SSR is a great driver. its fast, its a special beast, and its unique. I’d drive it in a heartbeat if it wasn’t so expensive today… I’d consider it an awesome DD.

      Thunderbird… I still don’t get those. They don’t seem special, they are ugly, and 252 HP with a 5 speed doesn’t sound very inspiring (although its duly noted the prowler had a 4 speed…) Somehow this car looked… and felt old… when it came out. Not retro… but simply old.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      if it dies , it dies

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Buy: The only thing wrong with the SSR was the price; it was originally marketed as a sports truck for the Camaro crowd, then sold at Corvette prices.

    Drive: Prowler. I’ve wanted one from the first time I saw them and still want one now, even though I have no place to park it out of the weather.

    Burn: Thunderbird. For being a supposed throwback to the early 50’s model, it simply never worked for me. Of all the retro vehicles that were built around that time, that one came across as the worst, despite being a cute little roadster in and of itself.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Buy Thunderbird because I actually liked the styling, but I know that tiny V8 doesn’t have the best reliability rep – Ford should have just given it a genuine Jaguar 4.2 ltr V8 and slapped Thunderbird valve covers on it.

    Drive SSR because it’s likely the only one my golf clubs will fit in.

    Burn Prowler for not offering the V8. It would be like opening the hood of the SSR and finding a 200 hp 3800.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Buy: Prowler. It’s a really neat car that advanced Chrysler’s understanding and capabilities with regard to forming and manufacturing aluminum, and while under-powered on paper (this roadster’s attitude SCREAMS for a V8) it had a decent power-to-weight ratio. It turns heads 20 years later.

    Drive: Thunderbird. This car could have been so much more, but kudos to Ford for trying to return the car to its roots by keeping it a 2-seater. I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars, but not soft enough to want one in my own fleet.

    Burn: HHR. Middle-school me loved it. Adult me hates it.

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    Buy the ssr, drive the Plymouth, burn the bird.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Buy: Prowler, then take it home, junk the V6, and put a blown Hemi in it with Zoomies headers

    Drive: SSR; my neighbor has one and loves it, he says it rides good

    Burn: Ford (too bad this didn’t get a Mustang drive train)

  • avatar
    Jon

    Buy: SSR for the engine. Then sell the shell to someone who wants it.
    Drive: Prowler. Millennials would soil their britches from its radiant retro-ness.
    Burn (not worthy of a fire, let it rust away): The Ford one.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Buy the SSR. Pull the aluminum block 5.3 and driveline. Sell the rest for scrap. Take scrap money and buy the 500 dollar NA Automatic Miata with a bad transmission I keep seeing on Facebook. Put SSR Driveline in Miata. This is really the only good use for these.

    Drive the Thunderbird. Yes, it could have been so much more, but of these 3 it is the most easy to live with daily and is a pleasant car to drive. I will need a reliable and pleasant car to drive as my other car will be the above LS powered Miata which will undoubtedly spend much of its time on jackstands in my garage.

    Burn the Prowler. It looks dumb, has the wrong engine. Even High School me thought this car made no sense. Maybe the aluminum 5.3 would fit, but it would still look stupid. Torch it.

    Burn the Prowler.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Buy the T-bird, only because I wanna drive the Prowler. I have driven the T-bird from the final 2005 model year, and it’s “fine”, about like you’d expect a 2-door Lincoln LS to feel. The Prowler strikes me as the most fun, and I actually owned a Concorde with that 3.5L 24v mill and liked that engine a lot. Burn the SSR, and I am generally a GM Guy. That thing always looked just stupid to me.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Old man garage queens? Good lord.

  • avatar
    DanDotDan

    Buy: The SSR. It’s not right for me but it has a pretty good hotrod vibe about it. Plus, trucks are getting hot on the market.

    Drive: The Prowler. It looks cool and the V6 isn’t the drawback that it used to be. There was a auto shop near me that had one with no mufflers on it and it sounded good.

    Burn: The T-Bird. There’s almost nothing that I like about this. The styling, which should have been it’s strongest point, just doesn’t make it. Looks like an over-sized MG.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I would burn the flexi-flyer Thunderbird. I don’t think I could stand all the quivering and shaking from that chassis.

    I would have to buy the SSR because I can’t adjust the seats with the door closed. My hand doesn’t fit between the door and the bolsters to reach the controls once the door is closed. Not that i like the truck much.

    That leaves the Prowler to drive. On the plus side, my wife really likes the Prowlers. They are different and don’t blend in with the crowd, I like that in a car.

    Second thought, can I burn the SSR also and buy/drive the Prowler?

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I saw a Thunderbird recently and it looked good. It was a quiet color instead of red or yellow like most I’ve seen, and it had tasteful wheels instead of the chrome ones they typically have. I think they might have dechromed the windshield pillar trim also.

    Buy: Prowler. To resell to some fool later.
    Drive: Thunderbird. It serves its purpose.
    Burn: HHR. Pointless.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Buy the SSR because you can actually have it with a manual

    Drive the Prowler because it’s a little neater than the Thunderbird, though it’s automatic-only

    Burn the Thunderbird because of that dreadful interior.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Burn them all. Buy a real ’50’s pick up or a real vintage T-Bird.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I prefer the SSR to a true vintage truck because I simply don’t need anything that big. I also like the idea of the pop-top, though that nearly doubled the bloomin’ thing’s price. As for the vintage T-bird–when you can find one, it’s either shot to all heck or so expensive you don’t want to drive it–ever. I will admit I like the looks of the old one much better than the new ones. Would love to take a modern Fiat 124 and mod it with ’57 T-bird body panels.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The Prowler is a really interesting car. If I were building my own car, I would like one to use for parts. It’s got a Reynard Indy car pushrod front suspension, an aluminum chassis, an engine well setback from the front axle, and a rear transaxle. If one were to swap in a C5 engine and manual transmission, fit symmetrical tires front and rear, and upgrade the brakes, they would have a formidable sports car.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    “Only 90’s kids will remember..”

    Buy: Prowler. Because they’re still cool.

    Drive: Thunderbird. It’s probably comfortable.

    Burn: SSR. Douse it in thermite.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      This. Although how Plymouth built a retro-hotrod without a V8, I can’t even. Still a very nice driveway sculpture.

      I’d be slightly less embarrassed to be seen driving the T-bird than a SSR, so it gets spared from the flames.

      • 0 avatar
        boozysmurf

        I think the issue was really that they only had the Magnum truck lumps for V8’s at the time, and they only made marginally better power than the 3.5L V6.

        Today, it’d be different, (even in 2004 it would have been different). But in ’97, you had a 5.2L Magnum (230hp) or 5.9L magnum (also 230hp, but more torque) vs the much lighter, more modern 3.5L from the LH cars, which only made marginally less power (214hp? I think?) but by ’99 was making closer to 250hp.

        I always dug the Prowler. I’d have one. It wasn’t particularly “slow” for its time. In reality, 5.7 sec to 60mph isn’t particularly slow NOW. And nothing either a HEMI or turbo swap couldn’t fix today, if you wanted more.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I know it’s easy to trash these cars, but as we plod along to work every day stuck behind some rolling blob of a CUV, maybe that’s not the right call. The 1990s and early 2000s brought us a whole bumper crop of weird stuff like the three cars in this article, along with the 2005 Mustang, New Beetle, Viper, PT Cruiser, 1990’s Neon, and HHR. They may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but damned if they weren’t fun to look at. Good luck saying that about a Nissan Rogue.

    So go ahead and laugh if you will, but I’ll pour one out instead. These were products of a bygone era. And now, down to business.

    Buy: T-bird. It’s a perfect Sunday-afternoon car. Stock it with Frank Sinatra CDs, put a head scarf on your wife, and go down the road pretending it’s 1965.

    Drive: SSR. With more engine and a lower price, this would actually have been a cool vehicle.

    Burn: Prowler. The V-6 was blashphemy in a car that looked like this.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Well, as stated in the article, in the later years, GM did give the SSR more power – the 6.0 LS from the Corvette. But it was too little, too late. GM history is full of examples like this.
      Pontiac Fiero – started with a crappy 4 -cylinder end it’s life with a decent V-6, but alas.
      Pontiac (Holden) GTO
      Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky
      Funny, the first three examples I could think of off the top of my head were Pontiacs.

      Corey,
      Could be a good QOTD – Examples of “Too Little, Too Late” to save a specific model(s). Don’t remember if you’ve already covered this.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Spot on, 100% agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “put a head scarf on your wife, and go down the road pretending it’s 1965”

      Your mind has some good places.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok can not say I am thrilled w my choices but here goes

    Start w the burn- the T birds gotta go

    Buy- the SSR It seemed to have the best engine and if we have to go retro let’s go V8 ( and everybody says V8 swap so I will have one to sell them)

    Drive the Prowler _- Why all of these are about look at me I can afford a toy and it is the best looking of the three.. And it is hand made so that is a bonus maybe (?)

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Buy the Prowler – The only thing wrong with it is the drive train. Such a minor thing, right? I’m sure it can be tuned, modified, swapped or whatever to make it worthy of its looks. Which to me is just stunning, even today. One of the few cars that changed very little – at least on the outside – from conceptual drawing to production
    Drive the SSR – Instant hot rod El Camino. I remember when the SSR was making the Auto Show circuit. All the enthusiasts and the press were crying: “Build it! Build it! We’ll buy it just like that, we swear!” …And then Chevrolet did. And said press and enthusiasts went: “Well, uh, I meant that someone else would buy it. I mean, you didn’t think I was really serious about that, did you?”
    Burn the Thunderbird – the most “meh” of the three.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Buy: Prowler, promptly be the next to swap in any 3-gen Hemi and 6spd making it the car it always should have been.

    Drive: SSR. Styling is a bit wonky and dated but it’s a V8 roadster pickup. That says ‘fun’ any way you look at it.

    Nuke from orbit: T-bird. Idea was there, execution was HORRIBLE. While the other two may have found more homes with old guys (they do have money for toys, after all…) this is the one actually DESIGNED for old people, specifically old women. It’s not fast, it doesn’t handle, and Ford had the gall to push it as such! The styling is like something designed for Hello Kitty, the color pallete was loaded with pastels. VAPORIZE this turd!

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I agree with FreedMike that these quirky rides are more interesting than the sea of SUVs we get these days. Anyway, my picks:

    Buy: T-Bird. My dad, age 81, was the target market for these, and he bought one in 2003. Still has it, and it’s in near-mint condition. I’ve driven it a bunch of times, and it’s a perfectly decent cruiser. Nothing wrong with a little V8 music once in a while. His has been extremely reliable too. Not my taste, but executes its intended mission quite well.

    Drive: Prowler. I’m curious because it’s just such an oddball. I’d probably either love it or hate it.

    Burn: SSR. Doesn’t pique my curiosity.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Buy: SSR- A near Corvette or Camaro with a pickup truck bed. Funny how the F-body was dropped in 2002 and this was introduced in 2003.

    Drive: T-bird-Retro looks but Jaguar feel.

    Burn: Prowler-I was never a fan of the long nose, open wheel, front suspension and fender on these, If I wanted that I’d go full Boyd Coddington. To bad they didn’t build one of those roadster prototypes with this drivetrain like the Dodge Demon or Copperhead.

    Honorable mention: Chevrolet HHR supercharged

  • avatar
    Buckwheat

    There is one of each of these toads within four blocks of my house.

    I’ve driven all three, and they aren’t offensive. That’s the closest I can come to praise for these oddballs.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Drive T-bird, take my wife out to dinner in it as FredMike suggested.

    Buy: SSR. I’d actaully try to use it to haul stuff. Would be fairly easy to modify the powertrain if I got bored.

    Burn: Prowler. I respect the hell out of the engineering and the bravery to bring this to production, but man it’s just too embarrassing to be seen behind the wheel of this thing.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I’m glad that Ford, GM, and Chrysler gave us some interesting vehicles during this era, but man…they haven’t aged well!!! That being said:

    Buy: SSR. It has enough Corvette parts to keep it interesting, to maybe get some extra speed out of it, and to get parts for it down the road. Plus, on a nice day, it at least sounds good with the top down.

    Drive: Thunderbird. For long straight cruises down the interstate. That’s it. When the roads get twisty, this thing just falls apart. Plus, I recall the exhaust note being next to nothing even with the top down and that kind of ruins the whole V8 vibe thing.

    Burn: Prowler. Now a relic of a bygone era. To me, it seemed to be the Viper’s little brother who tried too hard but got the leftover hand-me-downs from the parents. The whole V6/crappy automatic compromise was a big middle finger to the stylists who had to imagine something a lot better for production. And, and I’m not sure about this, I thought all of the packaging compromises rule out any kind of supercharger modifications or engine swaps. I remember reading that the corporate V6 had to be shoehorned in there because nothing else would fit.

    I want a little fun with a car like this…blindfold me and hand me the keys to the SSR. And then I’ll pray for a meteor or some kind of act of God that wipes out the car and I can collect the insurance money and get something I really want!

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Is the Prowler’s V6 really a middle finger to the stylists if they designed a car that couldn’t accommodate the V8’s available to them?

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        I’m digging into my memory here, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

        I remember that the initial designs of the Prowler did make room for a V8 and a rear-mounted transmission that bolted to a stick shift. Like a lot of Chrysler products in the mid-1990s, the design was everything. But I swear that I remember that the bean counters and engineers stepped in, complained about the costs and the complexity, and combined with the low numbers expected to sell, started gutting the thing. And then the CAFE numbers, along with styling and engineering compromises dictated that the V8 got tossed and instead, a bland, corporate V6 was installed instead with a slow shifting 4-speed slushbox that was never meant for this kind of car.

        Just imagine this design today, with 2019 engine designs and engineering, what kind of power and handling it would have, and still fit under the low and narrow hood.

        So the middle finger part of the comment was directed towards all of the compromises and bean counting that took what was a breathtaking original design and what could have been a second halo car (with the Viper) and turned it into a cruiser instead of a hot rod bruiser.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          As per Tom Gale (former head of styling for Chrysler), they were in on the V6 (again for packaging reasons). He admits he would have liked a V8, but that certainly doesn’t sound like someone who had his work trampled on by beancounters (I’d also point out to how little difference there is between the concept and production Prowlers, pretty much amounting to making the headlights a little bigger). Rationally, I’d also point out that the biggest, baddest V8 Chrysler sold at the time was the 360/5.9 that only made about the same 250hp as the later 3.5 did, so there wouldn’t have been a ton of benefit in making that work.

          https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/car-design/a27637/the-secret-history-of-the-plymouth-prowler/

          Also, yes automatic, but not a slushbox – they firmed up the shifts significantly for the simulacra of an old hot rod.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Buy the SSR, take the engine out.

    Get a turbo kit for the 5.3L LS and install the LS in the Thunderbird.

    Burn the Hot Rod with a Dodge Intrepid engine.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    I remember thinking the SSR was cool when it came out, so just for curiosity I did a Craigslist search inspired by this article.

    Damn, I’d forgotten how unbelievably shitty Chevrolet interiors are and always have been. That SSR was supposed to be a halo car, and it looks like a polished turd inside.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      At least it’s polished. It’s better than the rough turds that were the contemporary C5 and C6 interiors.

      GM probably relearned learned how to make a visually-appealing interior circa 2010, and then it was a few years after that before they got the materials choices right on their nicer cars.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My old lady neighbor drives a T-Bird already, so apparently it works good enough.
    I assume the SSR would be fun to own so I’d buy one.
    The Prowler is just a mess… let it burn.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Buy Prowler. The V6 in a car that looks this cool is such a kick in the teeth. Buy it anyway. Nothing road legal will ever be allowed to be this different ever again.

    Drive SSR. LS2 > no LS2, it’s that simple.

    Burn Tbird. Burn it on its own merits for being a half assed chick car, and then burn it again for burning up a wonderful heritage badge in the process. This was like selling the Ecosport as a Continental.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Was the T-Bird really that great of a car by the time the MN-12 ones started to get old, circa 1994 or so? Was it really?

      I think the retro T-Bird was a good way to go out.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        The last MN-12s were kind of sad — the interior refresh got dated real fast, and the last two years had enough cladding to be a Pontiac. And of course the SC was gone.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Buy the Prowler. This was my favorite car when I was 11 years old.

    Drive the Ford. I acquired short-term use of this gen Thunderbird when I was 19. I used it to hit on Mennonites in northern Indiana. I remember the car was alright.

    Burn the SSR. The ultimate Boomerwagen. Bringing this out so soon after killing the F-body was a major tea-bagging from Lutz & Wagoner.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    My younger self is looking at my older self in disbelief as I am about to recommend the purchase of a Chrysler product.

    Buy: Prowler. An interesting technical exercise never intended to sell in volume or be profitable.

    Drive: SSR. This is Rick Wagoner jumping off a bridge because someone told him Bob Lutz did (insert pictures of Wagoner driving this in the Woodward Dream Cruise – your choice of years). But it’s a pickup truck with an unusable bed, so drive it – why not – everyone else does these days – LOL.

    Burn: Thunderbird. Burn it *at* the Dream Cruise this year. But before setting it alight, load up the trunk with as many Class B share certificates as possible – let’s get it over with.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Most of these comments are exhibits A-Z of the problem with “enthusiasts”. They’ll complain all day about how boring modern cars are nowadays but will defecate all over any attempt a manufacturer has of doing something unique and interesting.

    The owner of any of these is 999x cooler than a sad sack in a Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Unique and interesting isn’t always the same thing as good. None of these were available with a manual transmission. None of them had chassis tuning that prioritized handling. The only flaw of modern cars they address is that their engines are not turbocharged and direct injected. Are their drivers cooler than Wrangler drivers? How much lower of a bar do you want to set?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      These were all interesting styling exercises, but that’s about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Goatshadow

      File these all under the “Tourist Trap” category of vehicles, along with Polaris Slingshot type things. Not cool.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Venn diagram subset A: “People with money who live in places where it never rains who like cars but don’t care about cowl shake and have nothing to carry and like the idea of old cars but don’t like old cars.”

    Venn diagram subset B: “Executives with product approval authority who take the Woodward Dream Cruise seriously and have a very limited understanding of what low volumes do to amortization of fixed costs.”

    Sometimes there is overlap between A and B and a retro convertible happens.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I can think of one example of a retro convertible that turned out extremely well. The NA MX-5 “Miata.”

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Kyree, your comment made me think – thank you.

        Ok the MX-5 is the “best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history” – so I could claim cherry-picking (or question its ‘retro-ness’) but let’s go with it.

        Mazda is not the most profitable car company on the planet – gross figures or per-unit or percentage or any way you would like to measure it. I don’t have the data, but I would wager that the MX-5 was not Mazda’s most profitable vehicle in 2018.

        2018 US sales volume for Miata was fewer than 9,000 units. That’s what, 3 days worth of F-150 sales? Five one-hundredths of a point of overall market share?

        Miata is a nice car – I’m glad it exists. But if you took the business case as a freestanding model – with or without the benefit of hindsight – to a venture capital firm, would it get approved?

        Since reading your comment, I have parked a 1964.5 Mustang convertible and a 2002 Pontiac Firebird convertible in the driveway of my mind, side by side. I keep comparing them, looking for insights (performance, usability/livability, sales volumes, you name it). My conclusion so far: Carmakers don’t understand the U.S. consumer very well.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    This is a tough one. Speed and sheer power have never really been important to me and as long as a vehicle can adequately get out of it’s own way without leaving me worried I’m okay. For reference I’ve owned both a 98 T10 Blazer with the 4.3 and a 93 Aerostar with the 4.0 and neither vehicle made me worry for my safety. Caveat over.

    Based on looks alone, I wasn’t really knowledgeable about cars in the first 10 years of the 2000s; buy the Prowler, drive the Thunderbird, burn the SSR.

    Based on practicality: buy the chicken, drive the SSR (I’ve always had a weird fascination with truck/cars [crucks?] like the Ranchero and El Camino. That said, give me a Maloo any day), burn the Prowler. I only have room for 1 vehicle and it would have to do everything, or close to it.

  • avatar
    markf

    “Old man garage Queens” best tittle for an article. Burn them all, you’ll look like tool driving any of them……

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    The Thunderbird is a very fun car to drive (just to fit the stereotype – my elderly mother drives one). Once I shoehorn myself in (with the hard-top on) and put on some Tommy Dorsey, it’s about as great a cruiser as anyone could hope it to be. My folks looked at the Prowler as well, but they didn’t like the useless trunk or the annoying trailer.

    Buy the actual hot rod – the SSR

    Drive the practical car – Thunderbird

    Burn the car that needs a fanny pack to haul your gear – Prowler

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Buy the Prowler and park it. Take it to Mecum someday and make some scratch- but remove the front bumpers first.
    Drive the ‘Bird (sorry I just threw up in my mouth a little bit). But it’s more practical than the other two, and at least has Jag DNA so it probably drives better.
    Burn that monstrosity, and I’m a GM guy so that’s saying something. Ugliest thing ever to come out of Detroit, including the early 60’s Mopars designed by people who hung out with Timothy Leary. Not a dig on the mechanicals, it’s the styling that I can’t get past.

  • avatar
    boozysmurf

    I’m gonna do a bait’n’switch.

    Buy AND Drive the Prowler. If you can get past V6 rather than V8, it wasn’t particularly slow (0-60 in around 5.5-6 seconds) especially not for its time. it looked awesome, and still stands out as something really different that NO ONE would take a chance on building today. Even more so than the Viper, this was a massive chance-taking for Chrysler, and good on ’em for doing it.

    Burn both the T-Bird (it just… it was the retro answer to a question no one asked, it had none of the soul of the previous generations) and the SSR (Lets take all the downsides of a TrailBlazer (heavy, crappy handling) and match them with all the downsides of a sports car (despite a bed, nearly no useable space) and convertible (flex, flex flex goes the chassis!) make it slow because it’s so heavy (seriously how can a Corvette drivetrain have a 0-60mph of 7.7 seconds and the quarter in 15.9 seconds @ 86mph?? – oh yeah, curb weight – 4700lbs) and then make it cost as much as a corvette, but really ugly.

    I shouldn’t sugar coat it, and tell you how I really feel, but I’m trying to keep it PG. ;)


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