Nostalgia can be intoxicating. It is so easy to look back on the “better times”, especially once we are in the present and those times are at an end. I am guilty of this myself—I look back on the mid-’00s, my adolescence, as the good ol’ days now. Instant messenger was my obsession, I was learning to drive, I didn’t have to pay rent or bills— it was awesome.

Back in the ‘90s, there was a lot of nostalgia for the ‘50s throughout culture—Pleasantville was a hit film, ‘50s style diners started popping up left and right and the sound of swing music floated on the summer breeze. Those times were neither simple nor as clean-cut as popular culture would have us believe of course, but it was a salve for some people trying to cope with a rapidly changing world.

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The auto industry was not immune to this retro nostalgia. A college student and future-famed automotive designer named Chip Foose came up with his HemisFear concept drawing for a design project at Chrysler. The design hit on key ‘50s hot rod traits like an exposed front suspension, a sharp nose, and cycle-fender design that hadn’t been seen for years.

Chip Foose’s HemisFear concept
Chip Foose’s HemisFear concept
Image: ChipFoose.com
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Chrysler needed some life breathed back into Plymouth, and this concept felt like just the thing. In 1993, the Prowler concept came into being, and went into production in 1997. Everything seemed perfect, but, heres the thing—just because something looks like a hot rod and a success, doesn’t mean that it will be one. Watch this week’s Know This Car to see why.

Video Producer for Jalopnik. In a committed relationship with her 2007 Nissan Sentra named Layla.

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DISCUSSION

Sorry but 250hp pushing 2800lbs is just fine. The Prowler fails the brag test not the drive test. 

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