Tom Gale, 77, a retired executive vice president and head of design at Chrysler from Bay Harbor, Mich., on his 2001 Chrysler Prowler and 1933 customized Ford sizzling rod, as advised to A.J. Baime. A sizzling rod is a car modified for fashion and pace, typically with a V-Eight engine, typically primarily based on a 1920s or ’30s automobile.
I began working at Chrysler in 1967, and I labored on all types of automobiles, from muscle automobiles to minivans within the 1980s and ’90s. On the identical time, I’ve at all times been a sizzling rodder and at all times needed to construct my very own. The earliest sketches I’ve of my 1933 Ford are from 1990.
At the moment, we used to have administration critiques the place we’d exit to the Chrysler design studio in Carlsbad, Calif. The designers there knew I used to be into sizzling rods, and through a administration evaluate, an important artist named Kevin Verduyn offered a sketch. That was the genesis for the Plymouth Prowler idea automobile, and possibly essentially the most uncommon journey of my profession within the automobile enterprise. The idea automobile took a few years to develop, and it was throughout those self same years I used to be ending my 1933 Ford, so I used to be engaged on each on the identical time.
Photographs: In Reward of a Scorching Rod
Tom Gale reveals off the Ford sizzling rod he labored on himself, and the Chrysler Prowler he helped create
When the Prowler idea automobile made its debut on the Detroit auto present in 1993, it acquired plenty of press. The press was more practical than any promoting we might ever do. If you happen to take a look at the Prowler as a dollars-and-cents venture, it may not have made sense. However even when we spent nearly $100 million on this automobile, we’d get one thing in the way in which of picture that we couldn’t get if we spent excess of that on promoting. So we made the choice to place the Prowler into manufacturing. We have been going to do one thing that had by no means been carried out earlier than and never carried out since—construct one thing akin to a manufacturing sizzling rod.