A Look Back at the Dodge Dakota Convertible, a Softtop Pickup


This story initially appeared within the February 1989 situation of Automotive and Driver.

To listen to Bruce Benedict inform it, invent­ing the primary fashionable ragtop pickup truck was not a stroke of genius however relatively a reasoned response to an apparent advertising want. Benedict, product-planning chief for the Dodge Dakota pickup line, says that his folks had been merely “in search of a distinct segment product that nobody else had, to assist carry consumers into the showrooms to see the remainder of the Dakotas.

“Everybody is aware of that there are loads of convertible pickups operating round in California,” Benedict goes on, clarify­ing the inspiration matter-of-factly, “however they’re all one-of-a-kinds constructed by chop retailers. After bringing the convertible passenger automotive again with our Ok-body, we thought it will be good to carry out the primary pickup convertible.”

Benedict and his posse of Dodge Boys might act as if creating the Dakota convertible was a brief day’s labor, however deep down they have to be enthusiastic about their new child. The Dakota convertible goes to thaw hearts in any other case ice-cold to those motorized pack horses. We all know. It occurred to us.


On the floor, a pickup truck with a flop high makes about as a lot sense as a metal baseball mitt. Pickups are designed for exhausting work, in any case. However everybody is aware of that almost all pickups truly stay a lifetime of leisure. So if individuals are shopping for pickups for the enjoyable of proudly owning a automotive alter­native, why not go full-frivolous and construct a sun-worshiping, let’s-go-to-the­-beach occasion animal? Why not certainly.

If a Dodge Dakota convertible seems like your form of wheels we have now excellent news: we have pushed a prototype, and it really works. Out on the highway, with the highest down, the Dakota ragtop is a 4­-wheeled consideration grabber. As for the mechanical bits, they work about in addition to they do in any Dakota steel-top­—which is to say, the Dakota convertible nonetheless drives like a truck. However its means to let the nice outdoor in nearly negates its pickup-truck drawbacks.

dodge dakota convertible


The Dakota convertible will go on sale someday this spring—the precise date hasn’t been set but—and there in all probability will not be sufficient to go round. “There’s by no means been a automobile prefer it earlier than,” says Benedict, “so nobody actually is aware of what number of we are able to promote.” The manufacturing schedule has some elasticity in it, however Dodge’s preliminary guesstimate requires a mere 2000 examples to be produced.

To maintain issues easy, all Dakota ragtops shall be geared up with the Dakota line’s Sport package deal. The Sport package deal consists of the short-wheelbase (112.0 inch) chassis; a 125-hp, 3.9-liter, 90-de­gree V-6; and a heavy serving to of extras. A live-speed guide transmission, alloy wheels, driving lights, a dashful of gauges, a padded roll bar, velour upholstery, energy home windows and locks, and rear-wheel anti-lock brakes are commonplace. The few choices embrace a four-speed computerized and air-con.

After driving the vary in a pre-produc­tion four-wheel-drive Dakota convert­ible, we got here away most impressed by its solidity. Slicing the highest off of most of to­day’s unit-body automobiles renders them as wispy as an oak leaf, however the Dakota is constructed on a separate body. Sawing off the roof does not weaken it appreciably, so it hardly shivers greater than a typical Dakota when the tires thump the bumps.

dodge dakota convertible


In most respects the convertible additionally drives like a standard-issue Dakota. Over railroad tracks or tough blacktop you’re feeling such as you’re perched atop a galloping horse. The V-6 wheezes and strains, and it will probably’t ship sufficient thrust to maintain you from yawning. The four-speed computerized acts as if it had been making an attempt to make up for the somnolent engine by slamming every shift house.

What will hold you unsleeping is the wind noise. At 75 mph, even with the highest up, the roar drowns out the whole lot else. Watch the veins in your passenger’s neck bulge as he makes an attempt to shout above the gale. Watch him give up making an attempt to speak. Watch him resort at hand indicators.

Oops, there we go getting critical, judging the Dakota convertible as if it had been an actual automotive. No approach. It wasn’t intend­ed to make anybody’s checklist of top-flight In­terstate yachts. The Dakota convertible is a Primary Road trawler. Flip down the guide high—it folds nearly effortlessly—dial up some tunes, and watch the world watch you.

Oh, and do not forget the solar block.



Dodge Dakota Convertible

Automobile Sort: front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 3-passenger, 2-door convertible pickup truck


As Examined: $17,500 (estimated)


V-6, iron block and heads, Chrysler digital engine-control system with 1×2-bbl throttle-body gasoline injection

Displacement: 238 in3, 3903 cm3

Energy (SAE web): 125 hp @ 4000 rpm


4-speed computerized with lockup torque converter


Wheelbase: 112.0 in

Size: 192.2 in

Width: 72.3 in

Top: 67.1 in

Curb Weight: 3950 lb


Metropolis: 14 mpg


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