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Performance West Group’s Prowler “California Kid”

April 2004
By Larry Weiner


While at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona this year we ran into Larry Weiner of Performance West Group and his amazing display of vehicles.  Performance West is the premiere developer of “Image Vehicles” for many of the major auto manufacturers and for many businesses as well. We fell in love with the Prowler “California Kid” car that Larry had on display and asked him to provide us with the material for an article on “The Kid”....... we know you will enjoy it!!!

Prowler California Kid (car in back) and the original California Kid!!!



Squeezed into tight peg-legged jeans, a black leather jacket and motorcycle boots rapping out a staccato beat on the asphalt, our bad boy heads for his wheels, the totem of his manhood, his independence, parked under the neon at the edge of the road house lot.  His rod is the Prowler California Kid, a coal black vision with vivid flames licking down the sides of the tapered hood that barely contains the high performance engine lurking inside.  The Prowler California Kid is throbbing with power, flickering in tune to the pulsing neon, an adrenaline rush waiting to happen.

The concept of the bad boy is as old as time.  It reached its pinnacle in the 1950’s and enjoyed a revival in the early ‘70’s thanks to the mega hit American Graffiti, where it all came together with the right cast, the right sound track and the perfect set of wheels. The revival became a swell of incredible proportion that is still growing.  Unlike Tom Wolfe, you can to back, to that magic time of bravado, daring and rebellion. Just slip into the Prowler California Kid, lite off the blown mill and head out to where the action is.

Back in 1990, when the idea of a retro-rod first appeared on an index card at Chrysler’s Pacifica Design Center in Carlsbad, California, the designers dreamed of the marriage of hot rod passion mated with revolutionary technology. A rod that prowled the steamy streets of a more complex world; a blade runner that could take us back emotionally to the days when bad boys were totally cool.  The design team of Performance West Group took the result of the 1990 “Idea Fair”, the limited production Prowler, and peeled away the layers to expose the Prowler California Kid that waited for release, just under the skin.

The inspiration for the Prowler California Kid was none other than the legendary California Kid.  A hammered, wildly flamed ’34 three window coupe built by Pete Chapouris, ‘The Kid embodied the essence of the quintessential bad to the bone rod. This was a vehicle that carved its own legend on the street and as the "hero" of a movie of the same name in the early ‘70’s.

The Prowler may be thoroughly modern under its aluminum and composite skin, yet it’s infused with the gene pool of the classic hot rod, with its narrow, pointed prow, sweeping body contours and low, sinister stance.  The perfect starting point for the creation of the Prowler California Kid, a modern version of ‘The Kid. With this classic revival as the canvas, the Prowler was subjected to all of the traditional hot rod mods.  The bumpers were stripped away, the body was sprayed with countless coats of Sherwin Williams gloss black paint and a set of bold, vivid graphic flames were expertly laid down by Mike Face.







Adding to the bad boy persona, Metal Crafters created a sinister three window chopped style top that instantly transformed the Prowler California Kid into a wicked coupe, ready to cruise the mean streets as confidently as its predecessors did in another era. The Prowler California Kid hunches aggressively in search of its next prey, its stance accentuated by staggered rolling stock consisting of 20’s out back and 17’s up front.  Colorado Custom salt flats inspired billet wheels provide the flash while super sticky 20 inch Goodyear Eagles out back stand ready lay down the smoke.  The interior reflects the bold look of the exterior, a with an ultra trick Katzkin Kustom Leather treatment that carries the flaming passion into the intimate cockpit.  The audio  system  has been enhanced with Clarion  and Alphasonik components armed with enough decibel capability and sound quality to teach today’s youthful tuners where the concept of the rolling boom box really originated.

Details abound on the Prowler California Kid.  Flamed cycle fenders cover the front wheels, while out back a custom roll pan replete with banks of louvers is accented by massive four inch dual exhaust pipes.  Darkly tinted windows infuse the Prowler California Kid with a look of sinister mystery and hint at an aura of danger for  those foolish enough to challenge this no nonsense machine.

Sensory overload is the message the Prowler California Kid sends.  And, like everything about the Prowler California Kid, there’s plenty of power. Because, under the smoothie style flamed hood is a supercharged 3.5-liter 24-valve SOHC engine that produces in excess of 375 horsepower.  A low restriction Borla cat back dual exhaust system capped off with 4 inch exhaust pipes adds to the sight and sound sensation the Prowler California Kid conveys. This is no kid-glove show car, and when pushed, the Prowler California Kid pushes back. The Prowler California Kid doesn’t just wear the duds of a bad boy, the heart of this Rod is pure power and riveting performance.

The power plant takes the Prowler California Kid to the edge, while a Stainless Steel Brake system stops it smartly.  Four wheel coil over suspension provides an excellent balance between power, handling and braking, quite a contrast to the old solid axles with buggy springs that were matched with "press and pray" drum brakes.  Whether it's running wide open on the straights or nose diving through chican-like curves, the Prowler California Kid is in its element.  Like its inspiration, The California Kid, the Prowler California Kid assumes the persona of an avenging angel, wrapped in flaming black leather.

The Prowler California Kid evokes the sensual, brooding aura of the bad boys of the '50s.  It's a slammed, hammered and flamed coupe capable of rolling effortlessly down the black top under the cover of darkness.  Through myth and gothic legend, there are some things that only come out at night.  Too bold and too nasty to merely cruise palm lined avenues during the day, the Prowler California Kid is really in its element after sunset.

The Prowler California Kid is far more than a retro rod.  It's absolutely bad to the bone, both in looks and performance.  This modern day, full tilit boogie hot rod has no problem numbling its the drive in, cruisin' the street or on the strip.  In short, the Prowler California Kid is on bad customer, and unless you're realy packin' some serious hardware, it's best treated with respect or left alone.  The Prowler California Kid captures the best of the bad boy image from an era when bad boys didn't make excuses to anyone.  A vehicle with performance and handling straight out of the 21st century, it's infused with the attitude, appearance and wild graphics from the days when the Hot Rod ruled to street.  The Prowler California Kid is the reincarnation of the vehicle we all wished we had, a vehicle that mirrors the bad boy in all of us.




Custom Paint                
Applied By:  Mike Face Custom Paint 
Custom Flames & Pinstriping             
Applied By:  ‘Lil Louie
Custom Paint
Manufacturer: Sherwin-Williams
                         Automotive Finishes
Three Window Chopped Style Top
Manufacturer:  The Gaffoglio Family
Window Tinting  
Installer: Johnson Window Tinting
Jeweled Billet Grille
Manufacturer:  B-Cool Billets
Custom Steel Rear Roll Pan  
Manufacturer:  Hot Rods & Custom Stuff
Front Parking/Turn Signal Relocation Kit
Manufacturer:  Jefferson Auto             

Manufacturer:  Paxton
Model: Novi 1000
Manufacturer:  Paxton
Spark Plugs
Manufacturer:  Denso
Type:  Iridium              
Manufacturer:  Optima


Prowler Logo Custom Tuck &
       Roll Leather Interior
Manufacturer:  Katzkin Leather
Prowler Logo Floor Mats
Manufacturer:  Designer Mat
Auxilliary Gauges
Manufacturer:  Auto Meter

Billet Wheels
Manufacturer:  Colorado Custom
Sizes - Front: 17”x8” Rear:  20”x10”
Model: Sugar City
Manufacturer:  Goodyear
Sizes - Front: 225/45ZR17
             Rear: 295/40ZR20
Type:  Eagle GS-D EMT (Run Flat)
Exhaust System
Manufacturer:  Warner’s Performance
Specs: Dual w/3.5 Stainless Steel
             Rolled Tips
Disc Brake Upgrades
Manufacturer:  Stainless Steel
                           Brakes Corp.




Auto Meter
413 W. Elm Street
Sycamore, IL 60178
Product: Supercharger Boost Gauge

B-Cool Billets
2060 Chicago B7
Riverside, CA  92507
Product: Custom Billet Grille
(909) 656-7797

DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Chrysler Division
1000 Chrysler Drive
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Product: Vehicle

Colorado Custom
363 Jefferson Street Suite 101
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Product: Billet Wheels

Denso Sales USA
390 Via Oro Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90810
Product: Spark Plugs

The Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters Inc.
11161 Slater Street
Fountain Valley, CA  92708
Product: 3 Window Chopped Style Top

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
1144 E. Market Street
Akron, OH  44316
Product: Tires

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff
2324 Vinyard Ave.
Escondido, CA
Product: Custom Steel Rear Roll Pan

Intromarketing Inc.
2031 E. Via Burton,  #M
Anaheim, CA  92806
Product: Prowler Logo Carpet Mats
Phone Number:  800-659-6371

Jefferson Auto
915 E. Jefferson Blvd.
Mishawka, IN 46545
Product: Park Turn Signal
                 Relocation Kit

[email protected]

Johnson Window Film
20655 Analee Ave.
Carson, CA 90746
Product: Window Film


Katzkin Leather Inc.
6868 Acco St.
Montebello, Ca 90640
Product: Prowler Logo Custom Leather Seat Covers

Lil Louie Pinstriping
24137 E. Ward Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410
Service: Layout and Spray Flames &
                 Pinstripe Vehicle

Mike Face Custom Paint
834 N. Waterman
San Bernardino, CA 92410
Product: Custom Painting

Mopar Parts
26311 Lawrence Ave.
Centerline, MI 48015
Products:  Front Fender Mud Guards

Mothers Polishes-Waxes-Cleaners
5456 Industrial Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1519
Product: Automotive Appearance

Paxton Automotive Corp.
1300 Beacon Place
Oxnard, CA 93033
Products:  Supercharger and Headers

Performance West Group
914 S. Santa Fe  Suite 101
Vista, CA  92084
Services: Vehicle Design, Marketing &

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes
101 Prospect Ave. N.W.
Cleveland, OH  44115
Product: Paint

Stainless Steel Brakes Corp
11470 Main Street
Clarence, NY 14031
Product: Disc Brake Upgrades

Warner’s Performance
190 Douglas Drive
Oceanside, CA  92054
Product: Custom Dual Exhaust System


  Thanks to Larry and Debbie Weiner of Performance West Group for sharing the details of this awesome creation with us.  This is the ghost of hot rodding past indeed... reincarnated to delight us with the power and design of a modern hot rod.  We look forward to seeing more from Performance West Group.