Dodge Dakota History
historical information on the Dodge Dakota, manufactured
by Daimler Chrysler, was retrieved from many
only a brief overview of certain important events in the
history of the Dodge Dakota Truck; before 1987 the Dodge
Dakota was called the Dodge Ram 50. We take you from 1987
The Dodge Dakota is known as a mid-size pickup. The Dodge
Dakota is a body-on-spring design and was the first work
truck to have rack and pinion steering.
saw the Dodge Dakota inherit the same semi-truck-look design
as it's bigger brother, the Dodge Ram. In 2002 Dodge dropped
the 4 cylinder in the Dodge Dakota as most truck enthusiasts
were opting for v6 or v8.
In the year 2005 Dodge stopped offering the Dakota in
Regular Cab; only the Club Cab or the Quad Cab were offered.
2006 saw the R/T return for the Dodge Dakota as well. More
Dodge Dakota Info.
More Historical Information
The Dodge Dakota was conceived by Chrysler management as the first “mid-sized” pickup combining the nimble handling and fuel economy of a compact pickup with cargo handling capacity approaching that of full-sized pickups. To keep investment low, many components were shared with existing Chrysler products and the manufacturing plant was share with the full-sized Dodge D-Models. The name Dakota means “friend” or “ally” in the Sioux Indian language.
The first generation of the Dakota was produced from 1987 through 1996. Straight-4 and V6 engines were offered along with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Four wheel drive was available only with the V6 models. Fuel injection was added to the 3.9L V6 for 1988 but the output remained the same.
The N-body platform was the result of the identification by Harold K. Sperlich, in charge of Chrysler’s Product Planning in the early 1980s, that the Japanese-inspired compact pickups of the time lacked the size and features necessary to meet the demands of the American buyers. In the late 1970’s, Chrysler was still recovering from their near-bankruptcy and resources were in short supply. Sperlich challenged the N-Body team to search for all opportunities to reuse existing components to create the Dakota.
1989 saw the unusual Dakota convertible. The first American convertible pickup since the Ford Model A, it featured a fixed roll bar and an uncomplicated manual top. Another important addition that year was the Carroll Shelby’s V8-powered Shelby Dakota, his first rear-wheel drive vehicle in two decades.
An extended “Club Cab” model was added for 1990, still with two doors. This model allowed the Dakota to boast capacity for six passengers, although the rear seat was best suited for children and shorter adults.
For 1991, the front of the Dakota received a new grille and hood which extended the engine compartment to better fit the optional 5.2L V8, which was inspired by the earlier Shelby Dakota. By 1992, the standard square sealed beam glass headlamps were phased out for the aerodynamic style molded plastic headlamps attached to the grille surround and equipped with halogen lights making 1991 the only year for a unique front end for the Dakota. Also debuting in 1991 were the six bolt wheels based on Dodge’s marketing attempting to differentiate the Dakota from competing manufacturers’ trucks and the upcoming new Ram introduction.
1994 saw a few minor changes, with the most notable being the addition of a driver’s side airbag, located in a new, two spoke design steering wheel. Other changes included the discontinuation of the “SE” and “LE” trims. In following with that all new Ram full sized pickups, top end trim was changed to “SLT”, with these models wearing the new chrome finished, styled 6-bolt steel wheels styled similar to the 5-bolt type found on the larger Ram. Other changes included revisions to color and overall trim options.
In 1996, the first generation’s final year, the base 2.5L SOHC I4 engine option was out of production and had been considered vastly underpowered compared to the competition, so Dodge replaced it with another 2.5L I4 engine; this being American Motors heritage with an OHV valve train and rated at 120 hp. This was the only major change for 1996, and the AMC 2.5L would also be carried over as the base engine in the new, larger 1997 model.
The second generation Dakota was built from 1997 through 2004. It inherited the semi truck look of the larger Ram but remained largely the same underneath. 1998 saw the introduction of the R/T model with the big 5.9L V8. At the time of its introduction, it was seen as one of the most radical in its class, not only for its styling, but for the fact it remained the only truck in its class with an available V8 engine that rivaled many V8s found in full size trucks.
Four-door “Quad Cab” models were added for 2000 with a slightly shorter bed, but riding on the Club Cab’s wheelbase. The aging 5.2L Magnum V8 was replaced by a new high-tech 4.7L SOHC PowerTech V8. The Quad Cab featured a full-size flip up rear seat to provide room for 3 passengers in the back.
In spring 1998, a new limited edition R/T package was available as an option on the Dakota Sport model. This version is considered a true street/sport truck, and was only available in RWD. Factory modifications such as a 5.9L V8, 46RE 4-speed automatic transmission, performance axle, limited slip differential, sport suspension and steering, updated brakes, performance exhaust, special cast aluminum wheels, monotone paint, bucket seats, and many other standard options that come with this package.
2001 saw a fairly extensive revision of the Dakota’s interior, including a completely redesigned dash, door panels and revised seats. Other minor trim revisions were made, including redesigned aluminum wheels on various models.
2002 was the final year for the four-cylinder engine in the Dakota, as Chrysler was ending production of the former AMC design. Most buyers ordered the V6 or V8 engines, which were considerably more powerful and, in the case of the V6, which was made standard for 2003, nearly as fuel-efficient with a manual transmission. Also, an automatic transmission was not available with the 4-cylinder.
2003 was the end of the old OHV V6 and the big R/T V8; the 2004 model year vehicles were available with a new 3.7L PowerTech V6 engine to go along with the 4.7L V8.
The redesigned 2005 Dakota still shares its platform with the new Dodge Durango SUV. This model is longer and wider, and features a new front and rear suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering. This new generation model also reverted the wheels back to five lug wheels from the prior generation’s six lug wheels as cost and assembly time saving measures.
There are one V6 and two V8 engines available: The standard engine is a 3.7L PowerTech V6; the two 4.7L V8 engines are the standard PowerTech V8 and the V8 HO. This generation of Dakota is built at Warren Truck Assembly in Warren, Michigan.
In addition to a refresh of the Dakota’s styling, the latest generation is not offered in a Regular Cab model. Only the Club Cab and Quad Cab configurations are available. 2006 saw the Dakota R/T return, however only with cosmetic modifications. Despite the R/T moniker which signifies “Road and Track”, the newest Dakota R/T is simply an option package, characterized by a non-functional hood scoop, exclusive gauge cluster, and hockey-stick style side stripes. The package was available on both 2 and 4 wheel drive models.
The fourth generation Dakota was unveiled at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. The Dakota received another facelift and interior upgrade along with built-in cargo-box utility rails, heated bench seats, best-in-class towing, the largest and longest standard bed in the class, and the largest mid-size truck cab. Its new 4.7L V8 produces 302 hp and 329 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.7L V6 remains the standard engine. Fiat announced that the Dakota will be discontinued in 2011.