Low Buck Drop-Top: 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Obscure and of questionable practicality, the Dodge Dakota Sport convertible has perpetually been an answer to a question no one asked. Featuring a true drop-top with a center roll bar, these unusual factory conversions are still conversation pieces today and a beguiling alternative to more conventional convertibles. Though the seller has listed this project-grade example here on eBay with next to no information, the price is right with a Buy-It-Now of $2,600 and some minor rust issues to contend with.

This was an interesting era for the venerable Dakota pickup. In addition to the convertible model, Carroll Shelby was also rolling out the hotted-up Shelby Dakota with a V8, special ground effects and visual enhancements and more. The convertible models had sharp five-spoke alloy wheels, lots of color-matched body cladding and a sweet front air dam. This one is missing the period-correct Bosch fog light shields that were all the rage at the time, but that’s a fairly minor offense on the list of cosmetic fixes this Dakota needs.

The manual transmission is a definite plus, along with a largely intact interior. The steering wheel cover should disappear when the next owner takes possession, along with the ugly yet period-appropriate tint job. The seller is correct that not many of these unusual trucks were ever made and production was limited, but finding replacement parts for the mechanical bits shouldn’t pose too challenging. Re-creating the factory body striping may be more time-consuming, however.

Top stowage was a rudimentary affair, but that’s also the appeal of a fairly basic truck with minimal complexity despite the addition of a drop-top. The seller claims 3.9L V6 runs well, and some owners have extricated more power with enhancements like a Jet performance chip, exhaust and K&N cold-air intake. Some performance tweaks with a dropped suspension and Torq Thrust wheels would really set this Dakota apart. For a rare truck with such a low cost of entry, this looks like heaps of fun.

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Comments

  1. Bmac Bmac Member

    I like these trucks, simple, easy to maintain, can plop the top down in seconds, comfortable,& they attract quite a bit of attention. I have two 4×4 sports and a 2 wheel drive base model (trying to corner the market) so I’m a little partial. ASC did a nice job of fit & finish on the conversion with no leaks, my dad drove one year around in Michigan and loved how useful it was and could put the top down to boot (I have it now & it suffers from Michigan cancer).
    Should be able to buy a nice one in the 10,000.00 range & you can go to swap meet in style.
    I respectfully disagree with the question of practicality

    6+
  2. sirprestia

    A New Orleans Nissan dealer took Hardbodies. Cut roof off and put one piece sunroof and back window on them. Looked like crap

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  3. John T

    The idea of a pickup truck with a convertible drop top to me is a most unusual and creative concept that should work quite well in the southern states. I really like that it has a stick and the Buy-It-Now price seems to be reasonable.

    2+
    • Dick

      Ford did it for Model As….nothing new.

      1+
      • John T

        You are absolutely right … You got me on that one. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to test drive one of those back then. A 1930 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup recently crossed the block at the Barrett-Jackson auction held at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Check out Lot #73 from the June, 2017 auction at http://www.Barrett-Jackson.com .

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      • Bmac Bmac Member

        Ford did it before the model A, built plenty of model T’s this way.

        0
  4. Sam

    For a limited edition truck it seemed like these were everywhere in Central Indiana back in the day.

    The Dakota seemed to be the perfect size pickup for around the house/weekend projects. Bigger than an S10 or Ranger without going full size PU.

    Ram/Fiat-Chrysler should create a Jeep PU this size.

    1+
  5. Michael

    Upholstery looks amazing, too good for a 28 Y.O. drop-top-truck. Beware of black paint: one running board is black, and one is aluminium; rust at base of shiny running board. Dakotas with V-8 and stick are suppose to be hot pickups to drive.

    1+
  6. John D.

    Swapping in a LA block V8 should be fairly easy as the 3.9 is just a shortened 318.

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  7. John T

    Auction has ended, Somebody (not me) scooped it last night at the Buy-It-Now Price … SOLD for $2600.

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  8. LAB3

    One of my uncle’s was a big shot at Chrysler and bought one of these for his daughter as a graduation present. Cool little truck although I doubt it ever hauled much more than a few friends.

    0

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