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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

When hot-rodding (baby) boomed, Detroit wanted in

When hot-rodding was young, it had an air of outlaw culture about it. Speed-crazed kids ripped the fenders off their hopped-up jalopies to go fast, make noise, and annoy the adults. True or not, it was a rock-and-roll facet of the automotive landscape that buttoned-down Detroit was happy to overlook.

 

By the mid-1990s, however, those speed-crazed kids were cashed-up adults who now held the industry’s full attention ... Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

 

https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/when-hot-rodding-baby-boomed-detroit-wanted-in/

 

8 REPLIES 8
cambrianpark
New Driver

The Prowler looks good (the front bumpers are easily removed), but geez, it really needed a V8 (which wouldn't fit).  I drove the SSR and it was better than I expected, but I find its bathtub styling quite unattractive.  

js100
Intermediate Driver

I remember going to both Chevy and Plymouth dealers to look at the finished products.  They were cool looking, impractical for anything other than weekend cruising, but fun.  However, the greedy dealers, used to selling entry-level vehicles, thought they had cash cows on the showroom floor and I recall insane "added dealer profit" mark-ups of $5-15K.  I blame the short runs and low production on the short-sighted, predatory dealers vs. a failure of concept.  Chevy and Chrysler would have built more.

I have a friend, who still occasionally drives his one-owner, slightly modified Prowler.  It gets as many looks as any exotic.  And, just my opinion, Chevy should have made the roof removable (stored in the covered bed?), and lowered the price, weight and complexity of the SSR. Typical GM, they only get the powertrain right the last year of production.

bhankinsonn
Intermediate Driver

....as a 78 year old guy who at this stage in life could afford either the Prowler or the SSR, the Prowler would be my choice by far!!  The heartbeat of the V8 wouldn't be there but the "hot rod" look would be.  All that said, if it wasn't so cold out here in Holland, MI. I would take the Miata out for a spin.

sharkguy48
Intermediate Driver

Have a friend with a Prowler.  Raced against my m roadster.  Not even close.  The SSR looked cool - end of story.  It was way too heavy and slow.

Keep in mind that Chrysler had unbelievable success with the PT Cruiser when it first came out.  Dealers went crazy and were asking (and getting) as much as $36K for them.  Then reality set in - the public found out quickly what pieces of s**t they were asked to buy even after dealers stuck with inventory gave them away for less than $16K.  

Conclusion:  The general public appreciates form (fins, gizmos, hot names, new for new's sake only) over function.  Time and experience have ways of equalizing real life.

 

shoulderboards
Intermediate Driver

Although the factory never installed a V8 in the Prowler, there are a number of them on the road with transplanted V8’s.

I remember seeing a bright yellow one at a cars and coffee type gathering, and thought it looked so much better since the owner had ditched the ungainly front wing-type bumperetts.  What blew me away was when the owner started the engine to the delight of the onlookers surrounding the car, and the sound of a very healthy V8 was unmistakably heard.

It’s a shame that it took a backyard enthusiast to make the car into something the factory couldn’t.

Old_Boy_Scout
Passenger

I had a 2001 Chrysler Prowler, Mulholland edition, that I really enjoyed.  No V-8 like they should of had, but the 6 was fine for what it was.  I saw the original show car at the St. Louis auto show and noticed that it had unistrut for a rear axle, it was just a rolling example.  If you recall the Howler (pick-up version) prototype, it had the V-8.

millbuna
Pit Crew

And while it was just a one-off concept, there was also the Buick Blackhawk

Sajeev
Community Manager

I loved the Buick Blackhawk...you knew it'd never make production but that didn't stop me from loving it!