By ALASTAIR SLOANE
The car described as the world's most desirable hot rod could end up in the hands of a New Zealander.
Chrysler is looking at selling the Plymouth Prowler it will show at Big Boys' Toys in Auckland this weekend.
But first it has to convert the retro-roadster to right-hand drive.
"We have a list of potential buyers," said Chrysler New Zealand general manager Brett Aspden.
"But we can't sell the Prowler unless we convert it."
The law says the steering wheel can stay on the left if Chrysler, as the importer, intends to keep the car. But Chrysler must convert the vehicle if it wants to sell it.
"We have to make sure everything stacks up for us," said Aspden. "It's not just a matter of converting it and selling it.
"We have international obligations. The conversion would have to meet Chrysler's standard of approval.
"We have lots of things to do yet. But we have several interested parties who heard through the grapevine that it could be for sale."
The Prowler went on sale in the United States in 1998, starting at about $US40,000 ($100,000). But demand pushed up the price and lengthened the waiting list after Chrysler upgraded the engine and offered a colour option.
The first Prowler - the ultimate expression of the great American roadster, said Chrysler - was available with a 3.5-litre V6 engine and only in purple.
But Chrysler dropped in an all-new 3.5-litre alloy V6 and offered yellow as an optional colour.
The engine had 18 per cent more power and 15 per cent more torque, was lighter, cleaner burning - reducing emissions by 30 per cent - and used less fuel.
Said Craig Love, the Prowler's executive engineer: "The new motor was designed for more luxury-oriented cars as opposed to a street-rod kind of car.
"We needed to calibrate the engine to meet much more aggressive performance demands than what would be necessary in a sedan.
"We spent a significant amount of time tuning the exhaust and intake systems to keep the engine acoustics appealing.
"The result was definitely a winning situation - better acceleration and an even better sound."
That bubbling exhaust note might be heard on New Zealand streets - if Chrysler approves the conversion.
By ALASTAIR SLOANE