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"How to Buy a Prowler"
by Chris Shemwell

The purpose here is to give a person seriously looking to buy a Prowler some guidelines to refer to in helping to make an informed decision.  In other words, to be happy with what you bought.

For the purposes of this article I will assume that you have studied our "Prowler Info & Facts" section to familiarize yourself with the colors, options and history of the Prowlers  Therefore, I will not go into great detail on these areas.

NOTE:  Also for your information we can get you any Prowler factory OEM part - even the ones that the dealer can't get any more.

So you want to buy a Prowler...
First you should know that the Prowler is completely impractical as a every day driver.  It is a weekend fun car for tooling around town or attending car shows and car rallies, ect.  It is a hobby car - for fun.  It is a tight cramped fit for most average and larger people.  The blind spots are extensive making it hard to see particularly when backing up.  It is a cloth top so naturally it will leak at least some water in a heavy rain.  It is a two seater so no more than one passenger.  It has no trunk to speak of and so you wouldn't take it grocery shopping.  Whatever you can fit on the passenger seat is the extend of the luggage capacity (unless you get the Prowler trailer).  The doors don't open very wide and it is hard to get in and out of.  So keep in mind it is an expensive toy. 

On the other hand, it is a unusual car that few people have seen before.  It always turns a few heads when driving. It is pretty peppy for not being a high performance car like a Vette or Viper.  It has nice tight handling.  It is fun to drive.  It is fun to take to car shows and rallies and a great conversation piece.  They are great hobby cars and I personally love mine.

If you are still here then I will assume you are pretty serious.  So let's start with determining the color, year and mileage.
Prowlers come in two generations.  Generation 1 is 1997 with 1999 being a transition year. Generation 2 is 2000-2002.  The biggest difference is the engine. Starting in 1999 the Prowler came with the larger more powerful 253 horse power engine - 39 more than the 1997.  Also in 1999 came the more valuable Chrome Wheels as an option and standard in 2000-2002.

As of 2000 a host of final improvements were incorporated including a better suspension (including better tuned shock absorbers). A electronic digital rear view mirror and a chrome shifter bezel.

Colors (photos of each color) available per year:
1997   Purple
1999   Purple, Yellow, Black, Red
2000   Yellow, Black, Red, Silver, Woodward
2001   Black Tie, Orange, Blue, Silver
2002   Silver, Gold, Yellow, Candy Red   

Color:  Which colors are more valuable.  It is hard to say, but generally the low production colors, i.e. Candy Red,  Black Tie, Woodward have a premium value.  For more detail see:

Prowler Trailers are worth between $4000-$6500 depending on condition and color.  If you really want one you should try and buy it with the car.  It is more economical and they are very difficult to find sold alone.

Mileage:  My personal preference is to buy a Prowler with the least mileage possible (under 5000 miles).  It is not unusual to find a Prowler with less than 1,500 miles on it.
I would recommend less than 10,000 miles.

Why low mileage:  Prowler parts are extremely expensive and only going up - if you can even find them.  Tires can cost $350.00 each, shocks can cost as much as $850.00 or more each, door window regulator can cost up to $400.00 or more. Radiators are $900.00, well you get the idea.  So you want as low as mileage as possible so  you will not have to immediately replace factory parts.      

What determines value?
Generally speaking in order they are:
1.  condition
2.  mileage
3.  year and color

How do you determine pricing?
This is much more involved.  There are so many variables.  Here are some of the most common:
Sold by a Dealer or individual?
What is the current supply and demand in the market?
Paying cash or need financing?
Low production color?
Knowledge of value by Seller?
Motivation of Seller?
Chrome wheels (are much more sought after)?
Where the car has to be transported from (i.e. Hawaii?)

To get a good feel of current prices study all the Prowlers for sale at and .   
Also visit:  This gives a reasonably accurate value.

Buying online.
Buying from online ads can be an efficient way to purchase a car.  It gives you a huge selection - the entire United States - to look through. 
Generally speaking the more detailed information the ad has and the more clear pictures the ad has the more of a chance there is the Seller is honest.
Keep in mind if you buy a car out of state you may have to pay to have it transported to you.  This will run $1000 to $1600 depending on the distance and whether you want the car transported inside a covered trailer (recommended but more expensive) or on an uncovered trailer.

Buy from a Dealer or an Individual?
This is not always an easy answer.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.

Individual Seller
Usually lower price.
More first hand knowledge of car.

No warranty
Hard to resolve disputes or problems after the sale
Can not offer financing in most cases.

New Car Dealer
(ideally a Chrysler Dealer)

They will stand behind their sale
They may offer a warranty
They have the expertise in repairing the car
They are unlikely to risk their reputation by selling you a lemon
You have the leverage of the corporate headquarters to appeal to if you are not satisfied
Can usually offer financing

Little first hand knowledge of any particular vehicle.
Usually will cost more (to pay for their overhead)

NOTE:  Buying from a used car dealer is not usually advisable unless they specialize in exotic cars and have experience selling Prowlers.

The Walk Around:
Once you decide to look at a particular car you will want to check it out in person.
Although the best way to do that is take the car to a Chrysler dealer and have it inspected or buy the car contingent on such an inspection before final payment, there are other easier ways to check as well.
Here are some examples:

1.   Ask a lot of specific questions.  For example, you don't want to just ask "Has this car been in an accident?"  you will want to ask "Has any portion of this car had paint or body work done?  Or - What mechanical repair work has been done on this car during its life time?". 
Ask - Has it ever been water soaked? ...not ...has this car ever been in a flood?
Do you have the maintenance records or can you get them?
What engine work has been done? ....not...Has any engine work been done?
When was the last oil change?  If records indicate regular oil changes, chances are the owner took good care of the car.
If you are skeptical - Ask if you can have the previous owners telephone number or if the dealer can have him or her call you.

2.  Conduct a slow and thorough walk around.  First while walking and then by getting on your knees and checking the front end and rocker panels to see if there are cracks or significant paint chips.  The smallest chip will cost you at least $200 to have fixed by a professional.  Cracks can mean the car has been damaged and will need a body panel replaced.  This can cost $1,500 for the smallest part with installation and painting.  Like any limited production car, particularly one out of production, any part is hugely expensive.  For example one headlight assembly is $640 just for the part - no labor. 

3.  Inspect under the car.  Look for evidence of damage on the suspension and inside the rims.  Also check inside and behind the rims for rust and peeling or bubbling chrome.   If it has any it is only a matter of time before it reaches the front of the wheel.  You can have the wheels re-chromed, it cost about $350.00 per wheel.  More importantly check the outter wheels for "curb rash".  This is gouges or deep scratches or scuffs from brushing the wheel against a curb.  You will have to replace such a wheel.  In addition, you will need a new wheel(s).  They are about $700 each new.  One of the telltale signs of how carefully it was driven and maintained is the under the front end.  Look under the nose below the front grille and see how scratched up it is.

4.  Open the hood and see how clean the engine compartment is.  If it is fifthly chances are it wasn't maintained well.  Check the fluids, if they are low or dirty it is a bad sign.

5.  Check the convertible top.  If it has a rip or hole bigger than a pen tip it could cost a large amount of money for a repair.  It also indicates that the car was probably kept outdoors.  Raise and lower the top.  If you feel any jerking or unnatural resistance the tops frame has been bent. Each top is tuned to close properly and it is a costly repair to have it re-set   Take a hose and run water on top of the car and spray the window seals on the closed doors,  all cloth convertible tops leak some, but if you see a stream of water leaking down a window it will require a costly repair to replace all the door and window seals ($600).  Look for dry rot or cracking on all the rubber door seals.  If present the car was most likely kept outdoors for an extended length of time.

6.  Check for repaint work.  Open the doors, hood and trunk and see if you can see where there is a new paint seem, putty or body filler marks sanded over.  The paint color inside the door should match the outside (of course outside body paint will be slightly faded).  Ask if it has low mileage and if any part of the car has been repainted.  If any part of the car has been repainted there it is absolutely certain it was damaged no matter what seller says.

7.  Turn the radio on and switch stations while driving.  There should not be any wining or strange noises (common with earlier Prowlers).  This is a wiring problem that can be difficult to find and expensive to fix.

8.  Check wear and tear on the tires.  Are all of the tires worn the same or is one far more worn than the others?  If the car has 25,000 miles or less it should still have the stock tires on it.  If it doesn't you need to find out why.  Does the tread wear match the stated mileage?  Ask if the tires have ever been plugged or repaired.  Ask if the tires have any slow air leaks - could indicate a bent wheel rim.
Tires are very expensive (thousands of dollars) to replace (one of the reasons to go for a very low mileage car).

9.  Ask what if any after market performance parts or accessories are on the car.  If their is, do they still have the original parts to convert it back to stock.  Even if you don't plan on changing it the next person you sell the car to may want to.

10.  Does the car include the owners manual?  Are there two sets of keys with remote keyless F.O.B's?  Do they work?  Ask if there are any factory accessories that come with the car such as Car Cover or a Trailer hitch receiver.  Often there is but the Seller will not mention them unless you ask.

11.  Start the car. It should start up right away. Listen for any unusual noises then open the hood and listen some more.  Does it leak any fluids other than water from the air conditioning system?  Drive the car.  Listen for noises that shouldn't be there.  Feel for unusual vibrations or rattles.  This can indicate a front end alignment or new tires or rims are needed.  While driving on a straight and level surface, take your hands off the steering wheel for three seconds.  Does the car quickly drift to one side?  If so, it may need front alignment work.  Test the cruise control.  Does the electronic rear view mirror digital display work if it has one (2000-2002 do)?

12.  Put the power windows up and down (Prowlers are known for their door window mechanisms to fail).  Try the electric door locks.  Try out the 6 Disc CD player.  Turn the air-conditioning on until it blows cold.  Then turn the heat on until it blows hot.

In general, if the car is very low mileage, clean inside and out, has maintenance records it is probably a safe bet.  However, it never hurts to do a few checks.  In general, you start asking questions and if you are uncomfortable with the answers for any reason you will want to continue to dig deeper with more specific questions.

Very Best of Luck in becoming one of the few, the proud....a Prowler owner!

Chris is a Hot Car Accessories, Inc. site

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