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Define “Missed Opportunity”: The 1999 Chrysler Howler

Define “Missed Opportunity”: The 1999 Chrysler Howler

The Plymouth Prowler gets a bad rap from the hot rodding community, and other than the knock for using the V6 from the Dodge Intrepid hooked to an automatic, I don’t agree. Plymouth was in the death throes, trying to sell cheap Neons and the god-awful Breeze, while the rest of Chrysler was just starting to get used to their new overlords supervisors from Germany. Then, in what was typical Chrysler fashion during the 1990s, they took a concept vehicle that had been shown in 1993 and slated it for production. The Prowler was light (2,880 lb curb weight) and could hustle to a mid-14 second quarter mile. But that didn’t satisfy the fans, no way. No V6 factory built hot rod could win them over.


Someone at DCX took apparently agreed, because in 1999 the Chrysler Howler debuted. In place of the typical purple paint was an all-black paint job with the front bumperettes removed. In place of the 3.5 V6 was the new 4.7 V8, in place of the AutoStick automatic was a Borg-Warner five speed manual, and in place of the roadster body was a “trucklet” body that really was a odd attempt at a trunk. It didn’t matter, because this wasn’t just a “what if” concept, but a pre-production mule that was testing the feasibility of shoving the 4.7 into the Prowler. The giveaway? This was a concept car that had a functioning A/C system. Motor Trend got to test the Howler and only complained about the handmade shifter, which they admitted was a concept-car issue and not worth noting, and the lack of commitment by DaimlerChrysler to produce the thing.

While the Howler does smack a little of the Chevy SSR as a cartoony throwback ride, at least DCX gave the cars a proper chassis instead of raiding one of the corporate siblings for underpinnings. It’s really sad that the Howler didn’t get even a limited release, because considering Plymouth’s notorious past of awesome rides, the Howler would have been a final middle finger before the brand died.


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6 thoughts on “Define “Missed Opportunity”: The 1999 Chrysler Howler

  1. John T

    I like it! Mind you, I liked the Prowler too. I prefer the Prowlers body but if it also had the V8 and 5 speed it wold have been great. I always thought the ol PT Cruiser could have been so much better too… imagine that with the V8 and 5 speed….

  2. Gary Smrtic

    As a guy who’s first car was a ’64 Dodge 426 max wedge S/S’er, I’d like to say, “Screw the morons who don’t get the idea of the Prowler having a 6”. The XKE was a 6, the Toyota Supra was a 6. 6.’s can be made fast, but more importantly is the overall BALANCE a 6 can bring over an eight. I think the Prowler could have been an awesome car, and the Howler even more iconic.

  3. Run

    I really like the prowler and the howler but honestly it’s sort of thing that kills it’s self really. Who buys these things. It isn’t the average joe for one. Two it isn’t really awe inspiring either. Three we need to break new ground not walk back in time. If you want a time machine then build one yourself otherwise we should be looking into the future. The V6 is ok but honestly if you own something like this you don’t want a V6. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not the kind of cool you think it should be either. It’s sorta cool but not really at the same time. The wheels are “production” looking and the body is a little jacked up if you ask me. But if Chrysler had built these things it might have been fun to see all the gray hairs driving them.

  4. BeaverMartin

    My God it looks so much better with the bumperettes removed. They would have sold twice as many based on that mod alone. The V8 and a manual would have been icing on the cake. I think they should have kept Plymouth as a retro nitch brand. Charger = 2 door Roadrunner, Challenger +Hemi Cuda, Prowler, PT Cruiser

    1. Bryan McTaggart Post author

      Chrysler spent so much time giving Plymouth the shit end of the stick that by 1993 the damage was pretty much irreparable. No Cordoba. Screwed out of the ’85 Cuda by Shelby throwing a fit. No LH sedan. Plymouth was hosed.

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