Car News:  Oversteer

Dodge Dakota Convertible: Feel the Wind in Your Mullet

RELATED READING
See all Dodge Dakota articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Aaron Gold January 2017

I can still remember when pickup trucks were basic, basic, basic. If your pickup had an automatic transmission and power windows, you were practically rolling in a Coupe de Ville. Nowadays, as we all know, pickup trucks offer many of the same creature comforts as luxury cars (though why GMC can't be bothered to put a keyless ignition in the Sierra Denali still baffles me). There are 2-door pickups and 4-door pickups, so why not a convertible pickup truck? I'm not talking about a specialty one-off like the Chevrolet SSR -- I mean an honest-to-goodness pickup truck with a drop-top.

Probably because the last time anyone tried it, no one wanted it.

The year was 1989, and Chrysler was just starting to buck the headwinds of K-car apathy. They needed something to add excitement, and someone, somewhere -- Chrysler Chief Finance Officer Jerry York, according to this TTAC interview with Bob Lutz -- wanted to make a drop-top Dakota.

That fact in and of itself is worthy of comment. We hear all these tales about "bean-counters" ruining automakers (check out "On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors," John DeLorean's almost-autobiography and a great read, for more on that), and yet here we have the CFO of Chrysler asking the engineers to rip the roof off a Dakota. Ten points to Gryffindor.

In 1989, the Dakota Convertible made its appearance, complete with an optional 4x4 drivetrain for that mud-in-your-hair experience. The convertible conversion was done by ASC in Mexico, and according to Mr. Lutz, the top leaked like a sieve.

The Dakota was not a strong seller to begin with. Dodge sold a little over 89,000 units in 1989, a drop in the bucket when you consider that Chevrolet sold 250,000 copies of its aging S10 pickup that same year.

As for the convertible, sales were dismal. Fewer than 2,500 found homes in 1989, and sales dropped to just under 1,100 in 1990. Sales in 1991: just eight.

Car and Driver summed it up best: "A pickup truck with a flop top makes as much sense as a steel baseball mitt."

No question, this was a failure of epic proportions. But no one at Chrysler seemed very sad. The same year as the drop-top Dakota made its appearance, Chrysler started fitting the Cummins 6BT turbodiesel to their slow-selling, box-bodied full-size pickup. As the last convertible Dakotas were coming up from ASC, the drop-fender RAM -- the one that would change the company's truck fortunes for good -- was on its way into showrooms. Happy times were just ahead, and no one mourned the death of the soft-top Dakota.

Finding a used Dakota convertible isn't as hard as you think -- despite their rarity, we've seen them trading in the $1,500-to-$10,000 range. We think they make a very cool collector truck. But remember what Bob said about those leaky tops: Be sure to carry an umbrella.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
8 Crazy Florida Cars for Sale on Autotrader
Is the Dodge Viper Really as Dangerous as Everyone Says?
I Bought the Cheapest Acura NSX in the US With a Clean Title and a Manual Transmission

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Dodge Dakota Convertible: Feel the Wind in Your Mullet - Autotrader