82k Original Miles: 1990 Dodge Dakota

When you examine the photos of this 1990 Dodge Dakota, it is hard to believe that you are looking at an original and unrestored pickup with thirty-one years under its belt. It presents superbly, and its overall condition is indicative of a vehicle that has been treated with respect throughout its life. The owner has decided that the time is right for this survivor to find a new home. Therefore, he has listed it for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. The Dakota is located in Fremont, California, and you could be driving away in this little gem for a mere $5,500.

The Dakota presents beautifully in its original shade of Sand Metallic, with a shine that is hard to beat. There is none of the patchiness or the matte areas that can result from neglect or long-term exposure to harsh UV rays. The owner refers to the exterior condition as 9/10, but this may not be doing the vehicle justice. There are no apparent signs of problems or flaws in the supplied photos, so any issues must be pretty insignificant. It’s a safe bet that it would still be capable of turning heads wherever it goes. Having spent its life in the sunny climes of California, it should come as no surprise that this is a rust-free survivor. The glass appears to be flawless, with no evidence of scratches or other defects. The trim and chrome are in excellent condition, and the optional rear step bumper is a neat and practical feature. The Dakota rolls on a new set of Dean Wheels and tires that add a slightly aggressive touch to its overall appearance.

While the owner doesn’t supply engine photos, we know that this Dakota is powered by the fuel-injected 3.9-liter V6 that produces 125hp and 195 ft/lbs of torque. The power finds its way to the rear wheels via an overdrive automatic transmission, while power-assisted brakes with ABS on the rear was a standard feature for the 1990 model year. Contemporary road tests praised the performance of the V6-equipped Dakota, and when you consider that the motor has to shift a vehicle that tips the scales at 2,920lbs, that’s easy to understand. However, just because the vehicle’s weight is low, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t capable of hauling some impressive loads. It is rated to a maximum payload of 1,250lbs, which is not shabby for a vehicle of this type. The owner states that the Dakota has a genuine 82,000 miles on the clock and that it has been appropriately maintained and recently serviced. It comes with a known ownership history, which is a reassuring feature with any classic. It is a turn-key proposition that is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.

This 1990 Dodge Dakota is a spotless classic that has no apparent needs. It presents beautifully, and the low odometer reading means that it should have years of faithful service to offer its next owner. It should also capture the attention of anyone who has been considering purchasing a new pickup, and therein rests what is probably its greatest strength. It gives little away to a showroom-fresh vehicle in terms of condition or performance, but it offers this at a fraction of the price. That has to make it worthy of a closer look.


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  1. Fred W

    Probably the last vehicle from 1990 you would expect to find preserved like this. Would almost be a shame to haul anything in it.

    Like 4
  2. Frank M

    My brother-in-law retired his after almost 300,000 miles. I remember reading that the first generation Dakotas were built from the full size truck running gear parts bin.

    Like 2
    • John S Dressler

      Frank, I owned one of these with a four-speed that had the compound low in it. It wore like iron. The salesman said the 3.9-liter engine in it was just the venerable Dodge 318 with the back two cylinders cut off. Having driven many a mile in a police car with that 318 in it, I knew it had staying power. You could start those 318’s in the coldest weather and we never wore them out.

      The cars would just be traded off after they logged between two to three hundred miles on them as the car around the engine was simply rusting away. Loved this truck! Was hands down my favorite truck. Traded it in on a Jeep Grand Cherokee when the truck was rusting away from under me.

      Like 7
  3. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking truck! I remember when the Dodge Dakota looked like this. I find this more attractive than later models, with the exception of the final year Dakota.

    Like 1
  4. Tom

    What I haven’t seen is a convertible version of it pop up!

  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    To me,the pre-’97 Dakotas are the perfect truck –
    not too big,or too small,& will tow a decent sized trailer.
    I have a ’95 Club Cab 4WD,with a 318 V8.It has
    quite a bit more power than the V6,& only gets about
    2 mpg less.
    Unless I find another one in really nice condition,
    I’ll keep it until it rusts out.

    Like 3
  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Cool – putting a new 318 in my old 1994 Dakota Extended cab Sport that I got about 260,000 miles out of. Did the trans about 5000 miles back – wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love mine !

    Like 2
  7. Gary

    I bought a new 87 when I worked at the dealership. 4cyl 5 spd, gutless but dependable and the original idea was to run it until the warranty expired and then swap a 340 4 SPD into it. The truck got sold before that happened with 90k on the odometer, such is life. I also had a Durango, I would love to have either back, they were great trucks

  8. Howard A Member

    You won’t find many bad stories about the Dakota. Great writeup, but Adam didn’t mention much history. The Dakota was Chryslers answer to the rising “mini-pickup” trend, but with a striking difference, it was just a bit bigger, more of a downsize full size. It took the place of the D50, and was an immediate hit. It’s exactly what America wanted, and are still popular today. I had an ’88, 4wd, regular cab, great truck, my brother had a truck just like this one, he too put almost 300K on it before he heard a crack and it never ran true. I think the frame broke, but the 3.9, like GM’s 4.3, a V8 minus the back cylinders, was just the best. Some went with the 318, but didn’t get the economy of the V6, and that’s what it was all about, economy. These were heavily used and scrapped accordingly. People that had Dakotas usually bought another one. Great find here.

  9. Philip Lepel

    My sister still has her late husbands Dakota with the V8. I keep telling her shes got a classic on her hands. Cant wait to show her this article.

  10. chrlsful

    ‘extra cab’ sure helps here~
    Nice DD as is.
    To ‘truck’ needs long bed.
    Almost short enuff for an off roader~

  11. Robert Cosgrove

    is this truck 2 or 4 wheel drive

  12. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Classified ad marked “Sold”

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