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by Jay Traugott
It was never a performance head-turner, but the Plymouth Prowler has managed to stake its claim in automotive history for its contribution to lightweight technology.
Although the Plymouth (later Chrysler) Prowler was never the performance car many fans would have liked, it nonetheless left a lasting impression regarding advanced lightweight technologies for the automaker. Being off the market since 2002, Chrysler's new SRT performance division is now giving the old Prowler a long overdue slap on the back by stating its then-advanced lightweight technologies, specifically its application of aluminum instead of steel, has helped pave the way forward for SRT performance.
According to Prowler engineer Saad Abouzahr, "there were very few applications for aluminum [at the time]. We decided the Prowler was an opportunity for us to actually develop some of this technology on a vehicle." First launched in 1997, the Prowler's "technology was new - how do you do an all-aluminum frame? We knew a lot about how to join steel...but in regards to aluminum, it was all-new." But perhaps what's most interesting here is that the Prowler's frame is still "the largest machined automotive part in history." This aluminum as well as magnesium casting research and development is now being used today on the 2013 SRT Viper as well as other future Chrysler models.