DETROIT'S WORST-KEPT SECRET is revving up. Before yearend, Chrysler insiders say, the auto maker will announce that the Plymouth Prowler will go on sale in the next model year or two. A retro-styled roadster that evokes the hot rods of the 1950s, the much-awaited Prowler is supposed to jazz up Chrysler's Plymouth brand the way the Viper muscle car elevated the image of the Dodge Div.
Plymouth's sparse product line could use a boost. The division now sells only the Neon subcompact and Voyager minivan, with the Breeze compact to be added for the 1996 model year. Publicly, Chrysler is coy about the Prowler's future. But suppliers insist the Prowler is due out in 1997 or 1998 at the latest.
The rear-wheel-drive Prowler will be powered by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and boast lightweight aluminum body parts. Price tag: about $35,000, high for the entry-level car buyers Plymouth targets. Still, Chrysler hopes the car will wow the public, as it has enthusiasts on the auto-show circuit, where it's shown as a novelty.