Facts about the Prowler
The Prowler was produced at
the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit where they are built alongside
Dodge Viper production line with the body produced in Shadyside, Ohio.
An average of 14 Prowlers a day were built during construction years.
Prowler first appeared as a concept car at the 1993 North American
International Auto Show in Detroit.
Prowler production began in July of 1997 as a 1997 model.
in January 2001, it was branded a Chrysler vehicle.
has the distinction of being North America's most aluminium-intensive
Last 300 Prowlers were
painted Deep Candy Red. The color features a new paint
technology in its
pearl coat that will actually make the car sparkle in bright light.
Originally a five-year run for
the Prowler was planned when production started in 1997.
Prowler features a 3.5-liter
24-valve sequential multi-point electronic fuel injection, 60-degree
single overhead cam, all-aluminum V-6 engine that produces 253 horsepower
at 6400 rpm,
and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 3950 rpm.
The last 300 Prowlers were Painted Deep Candy Red The manufacturer's
suggested retail price for
2002 Chrysler Prowler was $44,625, plus $775 for destination. A
matching Prowler trailer was $5,075.
Approximately 20 percent of all Prowlers are sold with a matching trailer.
Through November of 2001, more than 11,000
Prowlers have been sold. Of total Prowlers sold; 1,530 were purple,
1,576 were yellow, 1,911 were black, 1,573 were red, 151 were black/red
two-tone ("Woodward Edition"), 1,342
were silver, 163 were silver/black two-tone ("Black Tie Edition"), 1,039
were orange, 1,278 were Mulholland Blue, 616 were Inca Gold, and the
last 300 were Candy Red. One Prowler was produced for its creator as
one of the last built it was High-Voltage Blue.
Demographics for a Prowler owner: nearly 90 percent male, 70 percent are
married, median age of 52 with a
median income of $190,000.
The 2001 "Mulholland
Edition" Chrysler Prowler was painted Prowler Midnight Blue with a dark
blue convertible cloth top.
A light blue pinstripe was hand-painted around the upper beltline to give
the two-seat roadster even more of a hand-crafted, customized touch. The
"Mulholland Edition" Prowler is named after Mulholland Drive in Los
Angeles, the scene of countless classic movies and home to many exotic
cars. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the
Mulholland Edition Prowler is $46,000.
The Prowler was designed to be loud, hard shifting, and
hard riding. However, now that it has the full 250 hp version of the 3.5
V6 engine (it originally had only 214 hp), the Prowler is also fast. The
transmission has been tuned to let you feel the power of the engine,
rather than to hide it, so each shift comes with an impossible to miss
More than 900 pounds of the
2,780-pound roadster is aluminum including body, frame and suspension
The Prowler is a test bed for new material technology. From the welded
aluminum extrusions and castings used in the vehicle frame to the metal
matrix composite brake rotors.
The Prowler is made of a
high-strength aluminum alloy, as used in airplanes and boats, to resist
degradation, noise, and oxidation. A new joining process provides the same
body stiffness as steel cars, and careful design allowed for similar
safety. Cost is still an issue, since aluminum is four times as expensive
as steel per pound, which is why the Prowler is made of aluminum and the
mass-produced Neon is not.
The magnesium instrument
panel, which combines more than 20 stamping and plastic components in a
single casting, is eight pounds lighter than a conventional instrument
panel construction. An aluminum seat saves another seven pounds. Composite
brake rotors take out another 15 pounds of weight. Several aluminum drive
line components not only reduce weight but also vibration.
The control arms, rocker arms
and knuckles (both front and rear) are made using aluminum that is
pressurized into a die, similar to plastic injection molding. The process
is called semi-solid forming, and it is stronger than traditional casting
with less tendency to weaken over time.
Production of the first Prowler to be sold under the Chrysler brand at
Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit was the 2001 Chrysler Prowler in
Mulholland blue. The final "Conner Avenue Edition" Prowler was built
at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit on Feb. 15, 2002. In
addition, to being the first and only Prowler with High-Voltage Blue
exterior body paint, its other unique features include:
a Mopar® luggage trailer and hitch in
the same High-Voltage Blue paint
signatures of the Prowler Team on the
a blue "Stayfast" soft top by Hartz
bright anodized frame
unique body-color hood badge
body color upper radiator cross member
assembly, detailed and signed by renowned striping artist Mr. Rudy Kutey,
better known as "Dr. Ru"
unique body color shifter and instrument
taupe leather seats with matrix grain
agate door trim panels with unique taupe
custom-wrapped shifter knob
suggested retail price for 2002 Chrysler Prowler is $44,625,
plus $775 for destination. A matching Prowler trailer is $5,075.
And just so you have a place to carry your viola on the way to
the concert, the Black Tie Prowler, whose MSRP is $41,300, can
also be ordered with a special-edition matching two-tone trailer
Approximately 20 percent of all Prowlers are sold with a
Through November of 2001, more than 11,000 Prowlers have been
Of total Prowlers sold,
1,530 were purple
1,576 were yellow
1,911 were black
1,573 were red
151 were black/red two-tone ("Woodward Edition")
1,342 were silver
163 were silver/black two-tone ("Black Tie Edition")
1,039 were orange
616 were Inca Gold
**300 were Candy Red (last made)
1 was High Voltage Blue
1998 Prowler in a Time Capsule
Some folks in Tulsa have burying cars on the brain. To
celebrate Tulsa's 100th anniversary in 1998, a new
Plymouth Prowler was entombed in an aboveground
mausoleum in Centennial Park. It will be unveiled in
2048. The Prowler was encased in a seamless plastic box
especially manufactured in Tulsa. Officials drained all
the fluids and replaced them with synthetics that won't
degrade. The vault was filled with an inert gas to keep
the exterior in good shape. The car's garage for 50
years was sealed and covered with dirt.
On the Prowl(er) for High Standards
The image that comes to mind when you
visualize an automotive finishing operation is a scene where a constant
flow of cars – arranged end to end – pass through spray booths where
finishing robots toil constantly to apply the various colors and clearcoat
finishes. Colors are changed frequently, and there is little or no break
in the conveyor line of car bodies traveling through the automated system.
This image is a surprising contrast to
production at MSX International in Detroit, Michigan. You won't find a
finishing robot or a conveyor line at this specialty automotive paint
facility, because each finishing step is performed by employees who sand,
polish, and paint the vehicles manually. Calling on its extensive
experience, it maintains the highest standards in show car finishing
capabilities. It's this expertise along with its attention to detail that
prompted Chrysler to select MSX to paint its high performance,
classic-designed roadster — the Chrysler Prowler which was produced from
1997 through 2001. (The last Prowler was sold at auction in May, 2002. See
sidebar, page 61.)
“The Prowler appeals to a very specific
driver,” said Gary Cibula, MSX Plant Operations Manager. “Production
numbers were significantly lower than the typical production volume of
automobiles, so it didn't make sense for a large automaker to dedicate
production space for these custom products. Instead, companies like ours
performed special services for them, such as painting body parts.”
MSX International offers the automotive
industry a complete range of specialty build services from fabrication to
assembly, including full-body paint capabilities. They have
An operator specifies volume ratios using
the PrecisionMix control unit. The control unit is installed just
outside the clearcoat spray booth (background) for easy access.
The clearcoat components are transferred to the spray booth from a
central pump room.
Having emerged from the two-stage oven, finished Prowler surfaces
undergo a thorough final inspection.
“Even in our situation, a robotic or
automated system was not feasible,” said Mr. Cibula. “Our daily production
of Chrysler Prowlers was 14-17 vehicles. It did not make economical sense
to install an automatic finishing system with robotic capabilities for
such a short daily run.”
This lack of automation does not mean that
MSX didn't take advantage of new advances in finishing technology. If new
equipment or production methods are cost effective, and can increase
production and quality, they will look at the product or process closely.
For instance, when MSX designed the
finishing facility for the Prowler in 1995, it needed a system to
accurately mix two-component clear coat. It wanted something that was
economical, precise, and easy to operate. After careful evaluation and
input from the paint supplier, contractor, Chrysler and local finishing
equipment supplier, MSX selected Graco's Precision Mix electronic
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The Precision Mix proportioner sequentially
metered and dispensed the two-component clear coat—a 1:1 ratio, high gloss
formula from PPG. The patented digital control unit provides a maximum
flow rate of 4,000 cc/mm and assures proportioning accuracy within +1%.
Volume ratios vary infinitely from 0.6:1 to 30:1.
MSX installed the proportioner outside the
clear coat spray booth so operators had easy access to it. According to
Richard Underwood, paint job supervisor, the system is simple and
reliable. “Our production people don't have to worry about off-ratio
problems, because they're getting the same pre-selected recipe whenever
they pick up their spray guns. They can verify this input on the
proportioner's screen monitor. This allows our painters to focus on what
they do best and that's applying a quality finish.”
“We haven't had any problems with the
system since it was installed,” he added. “It does exactly what we expect
it to do—day in and day out.”
In fact, the proportioner did such a good
job mixing and dispensing clear coat that MSX added a second system to
proportion clear coat in another booth. According to Mr. Underwood, “We
were hand-mixing the 1:1 ratio material and spraying it from pressure
pots. It wasn't a very economical operation. The system has allowed us to
reduce labor and material expenses.”
Another benefit of the system is its
reporting capabilities. The system allows MSX to monitor material usage.
It used the information to analyze production and VOC trends.
The clear coat components are transferred
from a central pump room where they are pumped from 55-gallon drums to the
respective proportioner. Graco Glutton 4:1 stainless steel diaphragm pumps
were recently installed to transfer the plural component materials. “We
replaced a number of other pumps that didn't have the output we required.
The Glutton pumps are providing with the pressure and flow we need to meet
our system requirements,” said Mr. Underwood.
Prowler System Operation
Parts that arrived at the MSX facility had been e-coated by a company that
fabricated the metal body parts. The parts were loaded onto portable carts
(each cart carried all the body parts to complete one Prowler) and were
wheeled to the scuff sand booth where imperfections were sanded out. After
the sanding process, the parts were pressure washed with DI water and then
baked at 290F. This step removed excess gas from the substrate that
otherwise could release later, causing blemishes to the finish.
he first material MSX sprayed was a
single-component primer. Painters using conventional air spray guns
applied three coats to attain a coverage of 1.5 mils. The primer is
fast-drying, allowing the second and third coat to be applied 3-5 minutes
after the previous coat. After the primer was applied, the painter wheeled
the cart into a heated area where the primer cured at 95F for 20 minutes.
From this heated area, the parts were moved into a two-stage oven.
Temperatures were 240F in the first stage and 290F in the second stage.
Parts remained in each stage for 20 minutes. According to Mr. Underwood,
this provided optimum cure rate and also kept the product moving smoothly
through the system.
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After the parts were removed from the
primer oven, they were inspected. Any imperfections caused by dirt or
other airborne contaminants were sanded out of the finish. These parts
were washed and retouched. Then the cart was wheeled into the color booth
where the base coat was applied.
“We had a unique situation here” said Mr.
Cibula. “Many automotive finishing operations have to contend with
frequent color changes during the day. Our color batches were for 800
vehicles, so once we start painting a color we stayed with that color for
approximately three months.
“To say the least, a color change was a big
event here,” he added. “After spraying the same color for three months,
our painters really looked forward to a change!”
After the color coat was sprayed, the parts
were transported to a flash zone to drive the solvents out of the base
coat. They remained there for 20 minutes at 110F. From the flash zone, the
carts were rolled into the clearcoat booth where painters applied a
polyurethane coating of 2.2 to 2.5 mils. After the parts were sprayed,
they were rolled into an infrared flash zone for 20 minutes and then into
another two-stage oven where the parts were heated at 195F and 285F,
Next, every inch of the parts finished
surface was inspected. Upon passing inspection, the high gloss parts were
meticulously polished. The parts were transported to a final inspection
area. When they passed this inspection, they were transported to another
part of the facility and were “signed” back to the company that fabricated
the parts for assembly. Typically, a cart carrying the parts of a complete
Prowler was in MSX's control for 48 hours.
“When the parts left our facility they
carried the best finish available today,” Mr. Underwood concluded. “And
the Graco Precision Mix proportioners helped us attain that finish. They
have met our quality requirements and have proved over the last six years
to be very reliable.”
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