I still remember when the Plymouth Prowler came out back in 1997. It was hard to believe such a car existed at the time, and it’s still hard to believe — 22 years later — that Chrysler took such a chance on such a weird, low-volume production car. It was intended to inspire interest in the Plymouth brand, and it certainly did that — right up until a few years later when they axed Plymouth and rebranded the Prowler as a Chrysler. Oops.
Back in the late 1990s, the Prowler was considered such an automotive event that people did what they normally do when such an unusual car comes out: they hoarded them. Big time. Many people felt that if they bought a Prowler and held on to it for years, they’d make tons of money, much like what happened to the muscle car market as it began to take off in the 2000s. That was the theory, anyway: the Prowler is weird and special. Buy one and hold it, and you’ll be rich someday.
Unfortunately, 22 years later, that hasn’t really come true. Instead, what has happened is that the market is flooded at any given time with ultra low-mileage Prowler models that people saved, thinking they’d be worth something someday, and the values never really shot up. Indeed, there are currently 75 Plymouth Prowler models for sale on Autotrader, and an amazing 64 of them have fewer than 30,000 miles. A full 42 of them are under 15,000 miles — that’s nearly 60%. There are even a handful of Prowler models with 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 miles — or even less.
More surprising, perhaps, are the asking prices: they’re just really not all that high. Pristine, low-mileage Prowler models are in the $30,000 to $35,000 range, which is about the price of a new Toyota Camry. Back in 1997, the original sticker price of a new Prowler was $38,300 — not adjusted for inflation. These cars haven’t just failed to gain value, they’ve actually lost value, despite all the low-mileage hoarding.
Which brings me to my question: Will this ever change? Will the Prowler ever be worth real money?
In my mind, the Prowler has a few things working against it. One is the brand name: Plymouth is dead, and there’s never going to be significant nostalgia for it, like there is for older models from Porsche, or Ferrari, or even Chevy or Ford. Now, admittedly, this isn’t a defining factor, as there are many dead-brand cars that have gained significant value. But it’s a factor.
Another factor is performance: the Prowler used a 3.5-liter V6 and a 4-speed automatic, so it just wasn’t that engaging to drive. It’s fun, sure, but most of the fun is wrapped up in the look. The driving experience is just not as special as you’d hope, given its appearance. It has the same powertrain as some fairly dull Chrysler products from its era.
But another thing working against the Prowler is the sheer number that were preserved. One reason muscle cars gained in value is that nobody really thought to preserve them, so they drove them and modified them, and crashed them. Decades later, finding a nice one was a challenge. That’ll never be an issue in the Prowler world, where there are always dozens for sale with low miles.
With that said, I’ve always absolutely loved the look of the Prowler, and I’m happy there are so many well-preserved ones out there, because it’s a car future generations should marvel at — but I suspect it will never really gain in value like many owners hoped. Find a Plymouth Prowler for sale