Drop-Top Pickup: 1989 Dodge Dakota

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The Dodge Dakota was a mid-size pickup truck built and sold by Chrysler from 1987 to 2011. It was larger than its contemporaries the Ford Ranger and the Chevy S-10. Between 1989 and 1991, a convertible version of the truck was offered, with the conversion done by ASC (American Sunroof Co.). The estimated number of these produced is estimated to be less than 4,000. The seller’s 1989 Dakota has a V6 engine donated by a 1996 Dakota and the vehicle has been in a “museum” for the past four years. Our thanks to Mitchell G. for the tip!

When this truck was built, it likely had an inline-4 that displaced no more than 150 cubic inches. To get more power someone before the seller pulled that engine and installed a 239 cubic inch V6 in its place. We assume the transmission was also changed (an automatic), and the truck now has a six-lug wheel pattern where five-lugs would have been the norm for the four-cylinder. According to the seller, this is a well-used truck at 200,000 miles. But practically none were added since it entered the seller’s collection/museum in 2020.

This vehicle currently resides in Burbank, California and the seller will be relocating the assortment – and not all of them will make the trip, including this interesting pickup. We’re told it will start and run if you give it a jump, but the downtime may have led to some fluid leaks. Also, the paint is not perfect, but presentable. The seller redid the bench during the past four years.

The truck has likely benefitted from living inside a temperature-controlled facility for part of its life. The thing is pretty dusty so a detailing would be in order. And I would check the date codes on the tires before venturing out. The Dodge is being offered here on Facebook Marketplace for $4,500 (“pretty firm”) and the buyer will have to give the DMV $500 to $600 in late fees. If you’re looking for the rare and unusual, does this drop-top pickup turn your head?

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  1. Nick P

    I’d say the 96 donated more than the engine. Im pretty sure an 89 Dakota had a square nose.

    Like 8
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      That’s what I thought !

      Like 0
  2. JDC

    Why would anyone store convertibles in a dusty barn with the tops down?????

    Like 13
  3. Connecticut mark

    What a dirty museum, why leave tops down? Plus you got to pay their late fees for a switched 200k motor? I do not like it.

    Like 5
  4. Troy

    Well you only have to pay the past due license fees if you keep it in the peoples Republic of California if you actually live in the United states you don’t have to worry about it otherwise looks like a nice little truck

    Like 7
    • T. MannMember

      Is this true?

      Like 2
      • John EderMember

        I was a lifelong Californian, with a lot of experience with the CA DMV. Yes, if the vehicle is still in their system (vehicles do eventually “drop out” of the system- you can call and try to find out), all past due unpaid registration fees, plus penalties, must be paid prior to being able to transfer ownership (if I remember correctly) and certainly prior to registration being issued. An additional requirement is that it pass a smog inspection- a cliffhanger experience in itself. As an aside, if you bring a vehicle in from outside California, you will need to have the VIN verified by a VIN inspector (for a fee), any DMV office or by a law enforcement officer (although the DMV was moving away from LEO certifications). Finally, if your out of state vehicle is a truck, you need to have it weighed, with the weight slip going to the DMV. Most of this was learned the hard way. Oh, and don’t flat tow a newly purchased vehicle on a planned non op status (PNO) to your home in California. If its tires touch the road, it is considered operating with expired registration, and all back fees are immediately due. I have found it cheaper to rent a trailer.

        Don’t ask me about trying to register a ex-West German Army Unimog (purchased in Germany) in California. The sales paperwork was all in German. I turned it over to a retired DMV employee and, a couple of hundred dollars later, I had plates, title and registration. I didn’t ask any questions.

        Like 7
      • John EderMember

        I may have been unclear- all of my previous post only applies if you purchase a previously California-registered vehicle in California and intend to keep it in, register and drive it in California. If you are taking it out of California, none of this may apply in your state. Additionally, the smog test requirement is only for model year 1975 and newer vehicles.

        Like 2
      • Troy

        Yes if you are buying a car in California that has past due license fees you only pay those if your keeping the car in California

        Like 2
  5. HoA HoAMember

    If there ever was an answer to a question nobody asked, in the automotive world, was this. A convertible pickup? Has the world gone mad? ( keeping in mind, it was the 90s, we had a long ways to go in that regard) Don’t get me wrong, Dakota pickups are one of the best. I had one, my brother had 2, great trucks, but a ragtop? Good heavens, a less likely combination, yet, here you go. Another happy Chrysler “swing and a miss” venture, of which there were many, and perhaps there may have been a market for one in sunny AZ/Cal. the box never saw a stone,., nobody else cared or wanted to cough up an extra $5grand for one.
    To be clear and to give the seller some credit, I’m sure the top was up and removed for photos. To this day, I’m not sure what to do with it. The beach? Home Depot? Both?

    Like 7
    • Michael Tischler

      I’ve been in AZ over 30 years and never saw any,as far as convertibles go, if never garaged they don’t last very long here,doesn’t matter what make.In 8 months my son has taken his Shelby 500 conv.out not even a dozen times.

      Like 0
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      Yes, a convertible pickup was a swing and miss, no doubt about it, but I give Chrysler points for trying something new in this era. Some of their cars at this time, like the Dakota Convertible, were misses, others, like the PT Cruiser, were hits, and still others , like the Plymouth Prowler, didn’t sell well initially, but have appreciated as time has passed. No matter if the cars were hits, misses, or something in-between, Chrysler was at least willing to try new things, unlike their competition from Ford and GM, the Chevy SSR notwithstanding.

      Like 0
  6. Wademo

    Designers; “let’s throw it at the wall and see if it sticks!”

    Like 3
  7. RexFoxMember

    Ford made a roadster pickup in the 30s, remember? For someone who wants a convertible that only seats 2, and needs a pickup for occasional hauling duties, this would meet those desires and only take up one garage space. BaT currently has one listed that has a V6 and a 5 speed that is pretty appealing to me.

    Like 3
  8. T. MannMember

    A vehicle manufactured in 10-89 would have been sold as a 1990.!

    Like 2
  9. Roland

    For those who don’t remember, the late 80’s saw a run on sawzall blades to cut the roofs of of any min-pickup that could be found. Coming out with a factory version was a reasonable idea at the time, however, the folks who could afford a sawzall really could not afford a new truck. As for the engine in this one, my guess is it came out of the factory with the V-6 and someone did not stick the badges on the fenders, but they likely replaced the engine, which may have had trouble making this mileage. The six lug wheels may be due to a replaced rear end – the front rotors would be an easy enough swap to go with it. The “aero” front end was a few inches longer to accommodate a 318 for the Shelby Dakota, which came out for 89 or 90.

    Like 3
    • T. MannMember

      The “aero” front end was NOT done to accommodate a 318 for the 1989 Shelby Dakota,

      The Shelby Dakota started with a short-wheelbase, short-bed, standard-cab, Sport package pickup. The 3.9 L V6 producing 125 hp (93 kW) was replaced by a 5.2 L V8 with throttle-body injection. The tight space in the Dakota’s engine compartment necessitated removing the engine-driven fan in front and using electric ones instead. Removing the belt-driven fan increased the stock 5.2 L V8’s output by 5 hp (3.7 kW). In total 1500 Shelby Dakotas were produced, all 1989.

      Like 0
    • T. MannMember

      The 1991 change to an “aero” front end was a few inches longer to accommodate a 318 in any Dakota.

      Like 0
  10. Gary Spanner

    I love my ’89 Dakota Convertible. I’ve owned it for 25 years, most of those as a daily driver. If you have to run errands to the lumber store, garden shop, or the recycle bins, it’s much more fun in a convertible.

    Like 0
  11. Rw

    Really don’t believe this started life as 4 banger…

    Like 0

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