Droptop Dakota? 1990 Dodge SE Pickup

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Who knew? A Dodge Dakota convertible? Really? Well, I guess I should have known but I didn’t and I was completely surprised by this 1990 SE pickup – I actually thought, at first, that it was a backyard Sawzall job. Nope, Dodge actually offered this drop-top option for Sport trim levels in ’89 and then both Sport and SE trimmed variants in ’90 and ’91. Considered a dealership special, this unusual truck is located in Roswell, Georgia and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of  $3,150 with the reserve not yet met.

The listing is confusing regarding volumes, etc. but Hagerty provides a clearer explanation. According to them, 2,842 convertibles were built in the model year 1989 with just another 109 in 1990. As for ’91, that one’s up in the air with the belief that only eight saw the light of day. American Sunroof (ASC) was the converter and the production ceased as soon as Dodge’s obligation was fulfilled.  This example is supposed to be the first one knocked out in ’90.

Colors in ’90 consisted of red, blue, black, and Bright White, such as our subject truck. The finish is faded and the seller suggests that it needs a repaint but it presents OK. The body does look as if it’s straight and rust/damage free though the white folding top is said to be in need of replacement. Of surprise are the full wheel covers, I guess I was assuming something more fitting for a “Special Edition” trim level though they are, in fact, correct for an SE. Other Special Edition features include bright stainless trim, chrome-plated bumpers, dual remote exterior mirrors, color-keyed carpet, steering column, steering wheel, and seat track covers – things of that nature.

Power is provided by a 125 net HP, 3.9 liter V6 engine which is basically 75% of a 318 CI “LA” series V8. The mileage recording is 262K miles, which is impressive in its longevity but it also makes one wonder how much life this V6 still possesses. The seller claims, “It runs and drives so smooth and is a blast to tool around in“. Gear shifting is automatically handled by an automatic transmission.

Inside, bucket seats are found in place of the original bench seat – the seller thinks that the previous owner made the swap. The upholstery is pretty fair with some wear noted on the driver’s side seat bolster while the door panels are showing some fade. The carpet is another matter – it looks like something (coffee?) got dumped on it. The dash is very typical for the era – it’s all hard plastic and very angular.

This truck is a good find for two reasons. First, it’s a Dakota, a model that rarely makes an appearance here on BF – unfortunately for Ram, the last edition didn’t sell well and was dropped in 2011. But obviously, the real draw is the limited production convertible option. Then again, as Hagerty stated, “The 1989–91 Dodge Dakota Sport convertible was the drop-top no one wanted“. Will someone want this hybrid now, 33 years after the fact? Probably, the issue for the seller will be what price is he willing to accept for this worn, 262K mile example, right?

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Comments

  1. alphasudMember

    Yea, I remember this brief fad back then and I remember seeing some other trucks to get the convertible treatment. The buying public soon realized not everything goes well together like the time I saw a person dressed in compression shorts wearing cowboy boots and a big hat. It’s funny how those images get burned into your memory like it or not.

    Like 11
  2. Howie

    Wow!! And only 262,000 miles!!

    Like 9
  3. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    I also remember these and seen them in NY. I remember laughing at the engine since it looks like a 318 from the front. You put them side by side and you really can’t tell the difference. The rear two cylinders will cut off to make this V6. Surprisingly it wasn’t bad at all. It ran good but to me very unpowered. 262K is a lot of mileage and I am surprise the trans still works. A998:trans is a 4 speed it’s a good trans. But as we know how long before your sitting on the side of the road. Buyer beware 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 6
    • Autoworker

      Ford did the same thing with the 200 inline six. Lopped off two cylinders, and made the 4 banger for the Tempo-Topaz. We made them at Lima Engine Plant.

      Like 9
    • Jim ODonnellAuthor

      Deleted the TorqueFlite reference, thx!

      JO

      Like 1
    • Norman K Wrensch

      The A998 was not a four speed, it was a three speed with lockup torque converter, which did make it feel like a four speed when the torque converter locked up. The 3.9 V6 was a good engine but I would think it would be getting to the end of it’s useful life at 262K.

      Like 1
  4. TomP

    I had one about ten years ago. It was an ’89, 318, four wheel drive, black with gray stripes and red velour interior. I used to put it in car shows around Colorado. It was fun to drive, and the convertible top was very well designed.

    Like 13
  5. Dave, Australia

    There may be some interest from the African game reserves

    Like 7
  6. Robgw

    I had a Red 89 Convertible Dakota with the 3.9. Fun truck on a sunny day in Florida. I sold my very clean truck with 118k miles for $3200 around 10 years ago after owning it for about a year.

    Like 5
  7. Tom Woodside

    Seller; 2wd or 4wd?

    Like 0
    • eric22t

      iirc they only used manual transfer cases. so no stick on the floor means 2wd

      Like 4
  8. Vance

    I used to work for the company that built the seats for the D-body ( Ram ) and the N-body ( Dakota ). Buckets, 60/40, and bench were offered for the Dakota. You had to have good upper body strength to work there because all the seats were built by hand. There was some automation such as hog ring guns and torque wrenches, but most of the work building the backs and cushions was done by hand. One person out of 25 would make it a full shift, and we built a thousand seats a day. To this day I have shoulder, wrist and hand issues. But at the time we were young and indestructible . I just turned 60 and feel it every morning. It was a good time to be alive.

    Like 9
  9. Kelly g

    I sold my 89 dakota 4wd at 316,000 miles and the motor is still running in another 89 today.

    Like 8
  10. FrankDMember

    I wish a manufacturer would start this idea in motion again.

    Like 4
  11. T. MannMember

    I like it a lot.

    Like 5
  12. Tbone

    I have been a fan of these for years. When i lived in south Florida there were 3 in my immediate area. Dakota trucks were fairly robust and the convertible conversion seemed well thought out. As stated above, I wish a manufacturer would consider resurrecting this concept. Something midsize. Not rotund and bizarre looking like the SSR.

    Like 2
    • Tbone

      Before i get any haters for fat shaming the SSR: I am rotund and bizarre looking. Just don’t need that in a truck

      Like 3
      • eric22t

        but but tbone, then you and your truck would be a matched pair :)-

        Like 1

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