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Ultra Light-Duty Hauler: 1983 Dodge Rampage

051016 Barn Finds - 1983 Dodge Rampage - 1

Thanks to Jim S. for sending in this unusual find. This is a 1983 Dodge Rampage and it’s listed on eBay with a current bid of under $500, but the reserve isn’t met. These vehicles were only made for three years, from 1982 to 1984, and I can’t think of the last time that I saw one on the road or at a car show. The ones that are really worth tracking down are the Shelby versions, of which only 218 were made and they’re quite rare today. They actually came out in 1986, three years after the last Rampage left the factory. The car seen here has an 82 hp engine as opposed to the turbo Shelby model with about twice the power.

051016 Barn Finds - 1983 Dodge Rampage - 2

One of my first jobs after high school was washing and parking cars at an indoor parking garage in a medical building. One of the doctors, who probably had an equivalent income of $500.000 in today’s dollars, bought one of these and he drove it every day for a year or two. Apparently, even for someone with enough money to buy any vehicle on the planet, that unusual little car fit his needs. He also wore jeans every day and had a big reality-tv-like goatee; so he was either a bit ahead of his time or just a bit unusual himself.

I think that the Dodge Rampage was also ahead of its time, although it somehow also fit right in with the times back then. Chrysler had some of the coolest, and wackiest, concept vehicles of the 1980s, in my opinion. They had a habit of bringing some fun things to market in those days. Of course, there were others who made these little car-trucks, but for my money none of them were as unusual as the Dodge Rampage was. Well, other than maybe the Subaru Brat.

051016 Barn Finds - 1983 Dodge Rampage - 3

There was a sister car in the Plymouth Scamp and Scamp GT that came out in 1983 and it sold in fewer numbers than the Dodge Rampage model did; and it only sold for that one year so they’re quite a bit more scarce. The Dodge Rampage seen here is one of 8,033 sold in 1983, down from 17,636 sold in 1982. This one has 67,429 miles on it and it looks pretty nice, judging from the three, lone photos that the seller has provided. There are no interior photos, no engine photos, no detail photos, and no underside photos; just three photos of the exterior and one of them is a partial 3/4 view. I’m always baffled by the lack of photos given by folks trying to sell their vehicles, but maybe a few images and a good description are all you’ll need to know whether it’s a good car or not. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a description here, either. You’ll have to call the owner to find out the particulars on this one.

I like these cars, maybe for the memories but probably mostly for the unusual factor. Sure, they won’t haul a lot, either inside or outside, but you would get some attention and I’m guessing a few thumbs up, too. What do you think about this Dodge Rampage?


  1. Howard A Member

    America’s only front drive(only) pickup truck. I had a friend with a “Scamp”, and I always liked them. It had the under pinnings of the mini-van, of which I’ve had several, and they were without a doubt, the best vehicles I ever had ( and I’ve had a lot) The only problem, is these are short on covered interior space. You could buy a topper shell that was a great addition. And a little light duty for any kind of hauling or long distance stuff, but great in town truck. Seems like a good deal here.

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  2. boxdin

    I owned an 1984 model of Rampage w 2.2 + 5sp. Its quick, hauls a lot and is very
    handy. It was also rated at 41 mpg highway by the EPA, but back then tests were manipulated and gave false results. I wish I still had it.

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    • Howard

      I had a 1984 too. Put 149K miles on it before I sold it for 1200.00 back in 2001. Was pretty fun. Was quick and would top out close to 125mph. Would cruise all day at 100mph.

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    • Russ

      I have enjoyed these for a number of years now. The one I have now has 38,000 miles with factory air and an automatic. The 2.2 runs great and gets around 20 MPG around town. I cannot go to Home Depot without having a crowd around it when I get back out in the parking lot.

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  3. The Walrus

    There was never a ‘Shelby’ Rampage. This has been a controversial topic within the Shelby Dodge community for some time, and the myth is still perpetuated even on seemingly reliable websites (see: http://www.allpar.com/omni/rampage/index.html). The linked article goes to great lengths to call it a CS for ‘California Shelby’. That is not what CS stood for. It stood for ‘California Special’. The one Rampage pictured in the article that says ‘Shelby’ on it was the Shelby skunkworks prototype. Chrysler never licensed the name ‘Shelby’ for the Rampage, thus that skunkworks vehicle would be the only one. It is interesting to note that some dealers did call them ‘Shelby’ in their advertising, but there is no such material from Chrysler, as that would have violated Shelby’s copyright to his name.

    Because the body is basically a Charger, all of the Shelby Charger ground effects and decals can be added to a Rampage to give it the look of a vehicle that came from the factory that way. There are many people who have done this, and at the same time revised history a bit. The only Dodge Vehicles to carry the name Shelby were the Charger, starting in 1983, the Daytona, starting in 1987, and the Lancer for 1988/1989. There were other pure Shelby cars (GLHS, Dakota, 1987 Lancer, CSX). Chrysler also slapped ‘CS’ on a few things (including the Rampage), which eluded to Carroll Shelby, but actually stood for ‘California Special’ or ‘Competition Series’. Basically, when it comes to the Rampage, Carroll Shelby’s relationship with Chrysler was just getting started as production of the Rampage ended. There was no time for them to put one together.

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    • Keith

      Very interesting. When I first read that “Shelby Rampage” I thought “it seems I would have heard of that before”. Glad you cleared that up—great info!
      Also interesting that Chrysler used “CS”as California Special, as that had already been used by Ford in the 60’s on the “CS” California Special Mustang.

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  4. angliagt

    There’s one here in Eureka,Ca,in perfect condition.
    It’s Black,& I know the original owner.
    Always nice to see well-kept older cars driving around.

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  5. Scotty G Staff

    Auction update: the bidding ended at $1,825 with the reserve not met.

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