Classic Car Watch
Show Cars

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

September 2, 2012
By Scott Lewis

This month I wanted to do something completely different. None of the cars below are anywhere near classic status. In fact, the oldest car is 1994. Hardly a classic.

The cars below were all show cars. Granted... most cars have a show car to start them off. The current Camaro and Challenger did quite nicely as show cars before going into production. But those cars were already destined to go to production before they were show cars. The show car was really a pre-production look at what they were going to build.

The cars below started life as show cars before being being given the green light for production. Four of the five cars below were also developed under Bob Lutz, one of the last true car guys in the business.

I selected two examples of each car below. The first being the cheapest example I thought was an acceptable car. You certainly could find cheaper, but the point is made here that this is the price you should start looking at. The second of each is a more indicative of what I would look for if I were in the market.

The Plymouth Prowler was the inspiration for this list. Then we follow that up with the Viper, Crossfire, SSR and Solstice.

2000 Plymouth Prowler - $19,500

Description: 94,000 miles. Runs great! High-output 253 horsepower, 3.5L V6. Rear-wheel drive, four-speed fully adaptive, electronically controlled automatic transmission with AutoStick. Good Condition. Always serviced by Dodge. Upholstery in good condition. New seat covers. Extra new alternator. New starter. Front facing camera to see curbs.

Comments: This was the cheapest Prowler I found on the day I found all these cars. What is an extra new starter? I removed from the description where he said this was the last year for the Prowler... since it conflicts with the next car... a 2001.

Used 2001 Plymouth Prowler - $24,900

Description: 67,00 miles. Silver Metallic Exterior Color with Black Leather Interior! Black Convertible Top! Has the 3.5L V6 253hp with the Automatic Transmission. Chrome Wheels!

Comments: I liked this one because the front bumpers were removed. It gives the car a much better look.

Used 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster - $26,000

Description: 29,000 miles. 1 of 300 Made in emerald green with saddle tan Leather interior, only 29,000 Miles. Excellent condition both inside and out. Some options and features for this Viper are Climate controlled A/C, fog lights, tilt steering, "side exhaust", removable back glass & side windows, car cover with viper emblem on the front, tonneau cover, factory am/fm stereo w/ cassette player and amp in the trunk, 2-keys/2-remotes w/ alarm, all books & manuals. All original always stored inside and never hit, Non-smoker.

Comments: This was the least expensive Viper I found that I would consider a presentable car. Going cheaper meant major compromises. If your looking for a starter Viper, this is the entry price point. Keep in mind these first generation Vipers are not practical cars. They only have interior door release levers. That's right... you have to reach inside to open the door. The top is a canvas affair, with snap on side windows... that you can reach through to open the doors. These cars are meant to be play toys only.

Used 1996 Dodge Viper GTS - $32,500

Description: 53,000 miles. Second Owner, All scheduled maintenance, Serviced by a Viper Certified dealer the Former Palmer Dodge in Indianapolis. Always garaged, Non-smoker, Title in hand, Well maintained, Both Keys. No accidents, Rebuilt AC and New A/C head Unit. All Fluids - Diff, Trans, radiator around 50,000 miles. Updated Radiator Cooling Fan 99-02 and Temp Sensor.

Comments: This is what I would consider an entry level Viper. This is the first year the GTS Coupe was available. I would go for one of these.

2004 Chevrolet SSR - $15,990

Description: 107,000 miles.

Comments: This vehicle didn't come with a specific description short of a list of factory features. But you get the idea. This was the least expensive one I could find on the day I did my search on AutoTrader. And cheaper got you cars with salvage titles or damaged.

2005 Chevrolet SSR - $21,000

Description: 67,000 miles. 6.0L 405HP. Auto. Great Gas Mileage. Driver's side memory seats, A/C ice cold, Always garaged, Immaculate Condition. Turnkey.

Comments: I would get a 2005 or 2006 SSR because it gets the 6.0 engine instead of the 5.3 from 03 & 04.

2004 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe - $8,990

Description: 59,000 miles. This Crossfire is well maintained and has just 58,823 miles. This low amount of miles makes this vehicle incomparable to the competition. With no signs of paint damage, the exterior of this Crossfire is sure to impress. Just because it's pre-owned doesn't mean it can't look new.

Comments: Notice this car has a manual transmission. The manual in these cars is not considered to be a very good tranny. I would seriously consider skipping the manual and get one of these cars with an automatic. But even at this price point this car is perfectly fine.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire Limited - $10,997

Description: 37,000 miles.

Comments: This car had what I thought was the best compromise between mileage and price... and it was blue. It also included the automatic.

2006 Pontiac Solstice Convertible - $8,995

Description: 78,000 miles.

Comments: This was the least expensive Solstice I found acceptable.

2006 Pontiac Solstice - $12,977

Description: 19,000 miles.

Comments: If you want a low mileage car.. this one is still very reasonably priced. Seems worth thinking about if you are in the market for one of these. I like the two-tone interior as well.