Drop-Top Pickup: 1989 Dodge Dakota Sport

When it comes to summer cruisers, a pickup with a convertible roof if perhaps one of the more unique choices you can make in a vintage vehicle. The 1989 Dodge Dakota pickup is often seen as a preserved specimen commanding a decent price for a pickup, but given this example’s roughshod appearance, it’s currently offered for the very reasonable price tag of $3,500. The truck is in fair condition and has some needs, but for a semi-collectible beater, it’s a great choice for a summertime hauler that won’t break the bank. Find it here on craigslist in Fairfield County, near New York City.

The Dakota convertible was made in limited quantities, and the seller is likely correct that there aren’t many left from the original 4,000 that were released. The pickup was novel, obviously, for its soft top construction, but that’s one of the big issues with this example: it needs a new convertible roof. As I’ve learned since owning my first convertible in many years, the roof itself is a huge potential paint point as it relates to additional costs beyond the usual running of a vintage car or truck, but fortunately, it tends to be a one-and-done expense, especially if you’re friendly with a competent upholstery shop. The paint is also pretty tired, but that’s not a big deal for a truck that’s not likely heading to Pebble Beach any time soon.

The interior is fortunately in pretty decent shape, especially considering the sun-burnt exterior and a soft top that I suspect doesn’t seal out the water as well as it once did. The upholstery is straight out of the 1980s but it’s not torn up, and the lack of fading on the bench seat suggests the Dakota hasn’t been left outside with the roof off for months at a time. The truck could use a sound detailing overall, but the exterior paint won’t be coming back to life anytime soon unless you want to spring for a repaint. The seller reports that the power windows and door locks still work, which are among the very few creature comforts such a truck offers. But for a soft top, the less complexity inside, the better.

If you can live with the paint and the need to install a new soft top, this truck should return plenty of smiles per mile. The seller has addressed some maintenance, including a new master cylinder, new brake lines, and new fuel lines. Those are repairs that a negligent owner typically won’t tackle, and considering it has resided in the care of the same owner for the last 12 years, it seems likely this is one of a few Dakota convertibles left that has simply been driven and looked after as neither a collectible or a beater, but simply a truck someone enjoyed driving every day. Does the asking price seem like a fair deal for a fun summer cruiser like this?

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  1. Turbo

    Not a horrible price for what it is. I always kind of like these even though they are not terribly practical. When I lived in Florida there were two I would see on regular basis – one in my apartment complex parking lot and the other one usually parked outside the library at the school I was attending. Maybe they seemed so cool because I was driving a Nissan Sentra at the time.

  2. Kelly g

    These are good little trucks. They really will take the miles…i sold my ’89 4×4 running fine with 316,000 miles on it. If you want a square body Dakota, definitely consider the ’92 up that gets you the Magnum 3.9 V6 and another 30 hp.
    My father in law has a bone stock 1992 4×4 SLE with 66,000 miles on it. Beautiful 2 tone red and silver.

  3. Stevieg Member

    I always wanted one of these. Cool little truck, needs some TLC, but cool none the less. Very fairly priced.

  4. TJDasen2

    Oh holy heck! I want this real bad. Who’s willing to drive it from Connecticut to St. Louis? I Agree with Stevieg, a very fair price.

  5. Bmac Bmac Member

    I got two of these, 89 sport 4×4 & a 90 2 wheel drive.
    A couple of things to know: 1. They are uncomfortably hot without a/c. (and I live in Michigan). 2. The wheel well flares are cool looking (in the early 90’s) but wait til ya see what’s under them. 3. Bad top means cab corners & floors might be a concern.
    Mine have never seen snow, but my dad drove his year around, what’s left of it is my parts truck.
    All said these are simple & fun trucks and get a lot attention.

    • Bmac Bmac Member

      And new tops are available, took me an afternoon to install.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      BMac, why tease us? What’s under those wheel flares? Severe rust, or ?????

      • Bmac Bmac Member


  6. CharlesMann Member

    Dakota convertible! The first American convertible pickup since the Ford Model T, it featured a fixed roll bar and an uncomplicated manual top. There were 2,842 built that first year, another 909 in 1990 and only 8 in 1991. Total manufactured = 2,842 + 909 + 8 = 3759, then subtract 59 destroyed during testing. Total made for sale Equals: 3700

    Surprised this one is still available.
    I have two.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      “…since the Model T” should be changed to “since the Model A.” They were produced right through the Model B or Deuce in 1932.

  7. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Model A Roadster pickups were produced in good numbers, then there were 593 original Model B open-cab pickups produced for 1932.

    You’ll find a photo of a restored 1932 specimen in Robert Genat’s book, Deuce: 75 Years of the ’32 Ford.

  8. CharlesMann Member

    Open cab pickup :-)

  9. CharlesMann Member

    Build my Tbucket on a 1927 chassis.
    Did not know of Open cab pickup Model A’s that started in 1928.

  10. CharlesMann Member


  11. CharlesMann Member

    The day I got my white Dodge Dakota Convertible in 2003

  12. CharlesMann Member

    Got the 1991 Long Bed Dodge Dakota convertible in 2011


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