(Mini) Truck Stop: Dodge Rampage Collection

When you’re a hoarder of Dodge Rampages, you’re allowed to be a man of few words. OK, I just made that up – but it sure seems like that’s one of the perks based on this very terse listing for a collection of Dodge Rampage pickups here on craigslist. There’s not much to go on, so let’s check out each example and determine which one is likely the most sound. 

Thanks goes to Barn  Finds reader Eric Hare for the find. The black Rampage is probably my personal favorite, mostly for its lowered stance. Whether suspension kits exist for these things isn’t known to me, but cut springs likely do the job just fine. The Rampage, conceived as a competitor for the Subaru Brat and VW Pickup of the same era, didn’t stick around long in the U.S. market.

That doesn’t mean it was a failure; but it may mean this unconventional body style was ahead of its time. Frankly, American consumers in general are reticent to accept change, so presenting our pickup truck-lovin’ neighbors with a cross between a car and a truck with minimal hauling capacity was risky at best. The Rampage arrived at a time when the love affair with the car/truck combination was still in high gear, but soon thereafter, even vehicles like the El Camino disappeared.

The Rampage that still wears its period colors and stripes proudly is my second favorite, and the body looks quite sound on this example as well. The seller, as mentioned, says very little about this Rampage collection but does offer up that they are all in running condition and all have titles. With its underpinnings shared with the Horizon and Omni, good fuel economy was never far out of reach (and parts are likely pretty cheap).

Here’s the final Rampage, a plain-jane white example which almost looks like it belonged to a municipal fleet of some kind. These mini-trucks are hard to find these days (unless you live near a guy who squirrels them away, much like this gentleman did), but there are pockets of enthusiasts actively trying to keep them on the road. The Rampage reminds us that most of the time, we can fit everything we need in a small trucklet like this – but these days, they’re more of a novelty than the norm.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. chad

    I like original but don’t some swap-in a ‘high energy’ Mutsu engine?
    A cap’n pass-thru rear window would make a perfect vehicle for alot of us…

    • Dave Wright

      I have owned several of these and many K cars from this vintage for salesmen in one of my business. The Mitsubishi engines are pure junk. They are super expensive to repair and needed it often. One part I remember was a carburetor, it was just shy of 1000.00 and that was 20 years ago. Parts were more expensive than my Mercedes. The 2.2-2.5 American built engines particularly the fuel injected ones were bullet proof and had a lot of power with a turbo.

  2. Van

    I wanted to see one with the Shelby bits. Didn’t Denis Guage drive a Shelby and a mustang in a slalom. The Shelby box was faster in the autocross.

    • Lord Humungous

      Absolutely! I’m surprised I’ve never seen one.

  3. John D.

    Try finding the Plymouth Scamp variant.

  4. flmikey

    Can anyone answer this question: Why doesn’t someone build this type of vehicle now? I would be the first in line for one…or for that matter, a small, inexpensive pickup truck?

    Like 1
    • Rx7turboII

      They do….VW makes something just like this..it’s just not allowed here in the states yet.

  5. Dave Wright

    Last fall in Germany

  6. LAB3

    Our surveying outfit used these little haulers, the boss said the cost of running three of them was still cheaper than one Chevy Suburban! As to hauling, I know for a fact a Harley will fit in it although the rear bumper will darn near drag on the ground.

  7. Dave Wright

    These little Chryslers treated us really well (as long as you stayed away from the Mitsubishi engines) as did my VW Caddy Diesel. Front wheel drive, great A/C, good fuel economy and power. I think you would have a difficult time supporting the statement about there forward styling being uneque. It seems since the late 50’s that both Ford and Chevy had similar vehicles. I have seen them made up with Shelby type components. They look and run great.

  8. joe

    When these first came out, I bought a new one in a Firemist darker red with same color interior. They were not particularly fast and the only problem I had with it was one of the front brake pads kept wearing out prematurely.

  9. Howard

    I had an 84 Rampage with the Duster options. It came with a plastic Toneau cover and upgraded interior and also had Goodyear Eagle Gatorbacks. It handled very well. I upgraded with Shelby front springs and a Direct Connection shifting linkage for the 5 speed. With the 2.2 it got 28 miles to the gallon and would run close to 120mph. Was a fun car and useful too. Kept it 16 years and sold it for $1200.00. It had 149K miles when sold. $7900.00 new.

  10. ccrvtt

    If it weren’t for the threat of imminent divorce I’d have one of these. Seller is obviously a man of taste and distinction. Good find.

    Like 1
  11. Mountainwoodie

    I think having this many Rampages is covered in the DSM-IV under Axis II -Developmental Disorders………

    Like 1
  12. Mitch Ross Member

    Dodge Ram 700

  13. GaryC GaryC

    You know I just recently got a wild hair that I want to build a small pickup out of an AMC Pacer. Maybe I should just find one of these little Dodge pick ups instead. Nah too easy.

    Like 1

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