1999 Plymouth Prowler - $32,900
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The Plymouth Prowler’s real name is Plymouth Prowler AIV, which stands for aluminum-intensive vehicle. The Prowler was a cool way to explore innovative new techniques for working with aluminum, and that explains its race car fabrication and exclusivity. Chrysler never thought they’d sell a million of them (in fact, they probably lost a ton of cash on each one they built) but it was the perfect opportunity to build something interesting that also offered cutting-edge tech. The result was a modern interpretation of the classic hot rod, a 2-seat roadster with a pointed nose, raked stance, and radically oversized rubber on the road. The difference, however, is that the Prowler actually works as a real car: comfortable ride, a top that seals up well, and all the creature comforts you’d ever need for cruising. If you like the look but don’t want the mechanical hassles of a vintage hot rod, then the Prowler will deliver everything you need for a lot less cash than building something from scratch.

This particular Prowler is a 1999 example with just 4065 original miles (not a typo). They were all pretty much identical, so the year is less important than the care and the color, and this car nails it on both fronts. Prowler Purple was the original Prowler color, unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 1995 and the only color available on early Prowlers. It still looks right, subtle on the dramatic bodywork but unusual so that it refuses to blend in. Chrysler knew these cars would get a lot of scrutiny, and their hand-built nature pretty much guaranteed that each one would be given some extra attention before it went out the door. As a result, finish quality is far superior to assembly line Mopar stuff, with excellent gaps, doors that close with a reassuring THUNK, and a deep gloss to the paint that surely isn’t your regular production fare. With so few miles, this Prowler looks virtually new in every way and has been kept in climate-controlled storage for its entire life. That means no bashed-up chin, no stone chips on its flanks, and clean aluminum suspension components out front. The only notable demerit is some discoloration on the left front “bumper” unit where it appears a drop or two of something spilled on it. There’s not much shiny trim, but details like the faired-in headlights, taillights, and side-mounted marker lights are all in new condition.

The interior is where the Prowler really excels over your average ’32 Ford roadster. Deeply bolstered leather buckets in a color Plymouth called Agate look comfortable enough for a cross-country drive—and they are! Aside from a few minor wrinkles, they’re unmarked and look like new, as do the carpets, door panels, and center console, all of which are factory equipment. Accessory seat belt pads have been added, but that’s the lone deviation from stock. You can see hot rod influences in the column-mounted tachometer and center instrument panel that’s color-matched to the bodywork, but the rest is OEM-grade luxury. The list of features includes ice cold A/C, power windows and locks, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, airbags, and a great-sounding AM/FM/cassette stereo with a CD changer in back. It all works properly thanks to factory engineers doing their job, and it makes this a no-excuses car that works in the real world. Heck, there’s even a heated rear window in the black canvas convertible top! Speaking of the convertible top, it folds quickly and easily into the rear deck, and this car includes an accessory windscreen that really cuts down on turbulence in the cockpit at speed.

Mechanically, the Prowler provides plenty of excitement, don’t let the guys talk down to it. Chrysler’s 3.5-liter 24-valve V6 with 253 horsepower is plenty stout for the lightweight roadster (aluminum, remember?) and it fits neatly in the pointed nose. It’s reliable, too, and when you turn the key factory fuel injection makes sure that it starts instantly and idles perfectly no matter what. Can home-built rods do that? It’s obviously spotless under the hood, and all the factory equipment is 100% intact, right down to the tag under the “radiator” cap. And as long as you’re looking around under there, not the original hose clamps, decals, and other fittings, all of which will make this a benchmark car in years to come. Up front, you can also see the very trick inboard suspension, which uses pushrods and bellcranks to actuate the coil-over shocks, just like Indycars and Formula 1 racers. Impressive!

Looking at the chassis, you can see where the “aluminum intensive” part comes in. There’s a fabricated chassis made of box-section aluminum that’s incredibly rigid and light. The floors are riveted and bonded in place, again like a race car, and both the front and rear suspension cradles are fabricated aluminum. Custom aluminum castings for all four sets of A-arms further reduces unsprung weight for surprisingly good handling and for near-ideal weight distribution, the 4-speed automatic transmission is mounted in back like a modern-day Corvette. There’s even a custom transmission cooler with its own fan mounted just behind the rear license plate! The stainless exhaust system gives it a bit of a snarky bark when you fire it but never gets annoying on the road and ride quality is decent for something so low-slung and grippy. Giant disc brakes are fitted at all four corners, unlike most hot rods with their ancient rear drums, and chrome wheels were one of only a few options available (the others being the CD changer and a travel trailer). Tires are correct Goodyear run-flats measuring 225/45/17 in front and a massive 295/40/20 in back for a proper hot rod rake.

The original owner’s manual is included with the car.

You will never see a mainstream manufacturer build a car like this ever again. It was a time when Chrysler was willing to take risks, and the result is one of the coolest late-models we’ve ever featured. Why own a garden-variety Corvette when the Prowler offers so much more personality without any reduction in comfort? Why own a hot rod that rattles and bangs down the road when this tight, smooth, competent modern equivalent is sitting right here, ready to rock? And if you’ve been paying attention, Prowler values are moving up (finally), with ultra-low-mileage examples like this being the ones that collectors will always cherish. No compromises, an awesome look, and a potential upside? What’s not to love? Call today!

Vehicle: 1999 Plymouth Prowler
Price: $32,900
Stock Number: 116057
Mileage: 4065 (authentic)
VIN: 1P3EW65G5XV501685
Engine: 3.5 liter SOHC V6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.89
Wheelbase: 113.3 inches
Wheels: Front: 17x7, Rear: 20x10 polished aluminum
Tires: Front: 225/45/17, Rear: 295/40/20 Goodyear
Exterior Color: Prowler Purple
Interior Color: Black leather

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