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Chrysler Prowler ride on the wild side

Peter Gasiliauskas's stunning 2002 Chrysler Prowler is believed to be 1 of only 12 in Australia.

But with its stunning and modern hot-rod design, and only 12 Prowlers believed to be in Australia, it's definitely a car worth exploring.

One man who couldn't resist temptation is American car enthusiast Peter Gasiliauskas.

After first seeing the glamorous Prowler at a car show in the US, Gasiliauskas was an instant fan but never thought it would really be possible.

Years later, he joined some Chrysler Prowler internet sites and started to monitor their value, with a hope of one day buying his own.

“One came up for sale on this US website,” he says. “It was owned by a woman (in San Diego), who had won it at a casino, kept it for a year and then decided to sell it. It only had 2000 miles (about 3200km) on it. She didn't drive it much.”

After hearing, “Get it. You won't be happy if you don't” from his wife, and sending friends who live in the US to check it out, Gasiliauskas embarked on becoming a Prowler owner.

“I transferred the money over and bought it sight unseen,” he says.

“When it arrived I sent it up to Queensland to get it converted to right-hand-drive.”

While the initial outlay for the Prowler was $US35,000 (about $50,000 at the time), it became much more expensive; more than double the price once factoring in shipping costs and converting it to right-hand-drive, which has to be done for all cars under 30-years-old.

Gasiliauskas says he had to borrow money on his house to be able to afford the car, but it's a decision he doesn't regret in the slightest.

“It's not the sort of car you like to own and just have sit in the garage,” Gasiliauskas says. “I like to use it every opportunity I get.”

He has also accessorised the car with some aftermarket features, such as a hard-top roof instead of the standard fabric.

“I think it looks better with the hard top on, it's what makes it look smart,” he says.

“But you need two people to take the roof off, it's manual and hard work.”

He's also added a rear spoiler and matching trailer, which solves the lack of storage space in the car, especially for weekends away.

Today, the trailer alone is worth about $8000, while importing a Prowler and converting it wouldn't leave you much change from $120,000.

Hitting the road usually results in a lot of curious eyes trying their hardest to read the badge to find out just what the car really is.

Originally badged a Plymouth, the production Prowler was introduced in 1997, based on a previous concept car that debuted at the Detroit motor show in 1993. Despite none being made in 1998, it continued to be produced until 2002, with a name change in 2000 to the Chrysler Prowler.

“In total, through all of the years, they only made about 11,000 and the colour I have, candy red, they only ever made 301,” he says.

It is powered by 3.5-litre V6 engine with an automatic tiptronic transmission and drives through the rear wheels. Power steering, cruise control, air conditioning and a five-stack CD player are all standard features.

“It's a really comfortable car, the kind of car you can sit in and drive for hours,” he says.

“It looks small but it's really quite a roomy fit but hard to get in and out of.”

Being a fairly new car and having acquired some Prowler repair books from the US, Gasiliauskas hasn't experienced any problems but dreads the day something does go wrong.

“No one has the computer equipment to repair it,” he says. “If I do have a problem, I'll have to approach Chrysler and see what they can do.”

This isn't the only eye-catching vehicle Gasiliauskas has owned, having been involved on the hot-rod scene for more than 25 years. More than 100 cars have come and gone through his garages. He also currently owns a 1959 Cadillac.

But the Prowler is one car Gasiliauskas will be holding on to for a long time to come.

“What I do like is the fact that no one knows what it is,” he says.

 


Snapshot 2002 Chrysler Prowler

Value when new: about $50,000

Value now: about $120,000 with shipping and conversion costs

Verdict: Stunning hot-rod with all the benefits of recent technology, while still turning heads.