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Muscle Truck: 1989 Dodge Shelby Dakota

It has been almost eight years since the world lost Carroll Shelby, but the impact that he had on a wide variety of vehicles will live forever. One example is this 1989 Dodge Shelby Dakota pickup that is listed here on craigslist. This muscle truck is located in Gresham, Oregon, just east of Portland, and the seller is asking $6,800 for this one. Let’s check it out.

These are really interesting trucks, but I’m a big fan of special editions and graphics on vehicles, for the most part. Maybe some of the purple and teal Ford Rangers with pink lightning bolt-like graphics in the 1990s weren’t my favorites, but generally, I like special editions. This Shelby Dakota was more than a graphics package, it had some oomph under the hood.

To have been in on a bed liner company’s initial public offering would have been great. There are so many companies that are making a fortune on bed liners or spray-on bed liners. Sorry, I got sidetracked there. The Dodge Dakota appeared in late-1986 as a 1987 model and they were made until 2011. In 1989, their only year, the Shelby Dakota appeared on the market. Along with the also short-lived Dakota convertible, it’s the one to have, in my opinion. But, I’m also a guy who likes Comuta-Cars and vintage Japanese oddball vehicles, so what do I know.

The interior is loaded with Shelby logos-a-plenty and this one looks good inside. The owner says that this truck was “semi-restored” by the previous owner in Texas and they have no more room so this truck has to go. The AC needs to be charged but otherwise, it sounds like everything works as it should.

Without the seller mentioning anything, I would have assumed that this engine was Dodge’s 5.2L / 318 cubic-inch V8, but they say that it was a 360 V8 stroker and is now a 408 cubic-inch V8. Did I read that right? “engine 360ci, Stroker now a 408 ci.” Whatever it is, they say that the transmission was built by a local shop to race or you can drive it normally. Again, I’m not sure if I deciphered that correctly. Check out the sales link and let me know your thoughts on the engine and transmission. Have any of you owned a Shelby Dakota, or any Shelby vehicle?


  1. SMDA

    A performance truck is a bad idea, trucks do not handle well, even worse then a front heavy big block muscle car…and they were dangerous enough. I miss when pick up trucks had a distinct purpose. They were rugged, reliable, fairly cheap. The world has turned itself upside down and inside out.

    Like 5
    • CCFisher

      I beg to differ. In 2003, I bought one of the first Ram 1500s in my area with the 5.7 Hemi. it was a regular cab/shortbed model with 20″ wheels. Thanks to quick steering, wide tires, and a torsion bar front suspension, it rode and handled better than any other truck I’ve driven, and quite a few cars. Everyone who drove it agreed. That configuration was probably the best-kept secret in the truck world at the time.

      Like 10
    • Steve R

      This is hardly a performance truck. It’s a stripe and decal package compared to the average full size truck that’s rolled off the assembly line over the last dozen years. Any car, even the most mundane commuter car can get into trouble with a reckless and overaggressive driver behind the wheel.

      Steve R

      Like 4
      • SMDA

        All true, but any driver is going to do better with a properly balanced machine to start with. See, I am really a glass is half full kind of person.

        Like 4
      • Weasel

        Not a performance truck? A 408 with a stiff Automatic. I bet this could get sideways or hop like a rabbit going into second, but hey, I guess the word “performance” is subjective.

        Thank you for this post Scotty, I’m going to contact the seller…Weasel might be buying a Dakota.

        Like 17
      • CCFisher

        Steve R – It’s more than a stripe and decal package. This was the first use of a V8 in the Dakota.

        Like 8
      • RTS

        Sorry Steve R, this definitely would be considered a performance truck, especially for 1989! Your comment “Any car, even the most mundane commuter car can get into trouble with a reckless and overaggressive driver behind the wheel” is just common sense and most people are already aware of this.

        Like 4
    • Rob S

      @SMDA for the 80’s this was considered a quick truck.
      Now about performance trucks not handling well…
      Ever drive a F150 lightning? It will turn you upside down! I have two, a 94 and 01. Both are very impressive handling trucks. Check it out!

      Like 3
  2. Austin

    Personally I like it. Cheap enough to spend Friday nights at my local car meet in North Vancouver showing it off and then leave with a 25ft burnout! Looks like pure unadulterated fun.

    Like 7
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    A good-looking truck that seems to be in very good condition, in and out. Apparently, the motor was re-built with a lot of speed parts so this little pickup should really move when you mash the gas. Not in love with the light bar or whatever that is just behind the cab, I’d probably remove it but other than that, I like it just the way it is. Price seems fair for what you’d be getting, too.

    Like 2
  4. Weasel

    A serious question for knowledgeable Dakota people: Is that off centered stripe on the hood factory? What about that seat butt upholstery, is that “band” across the seat factory?

    Thanks everyone.

    Like 2
  5. Jon B

    That is indeed factory upholstery.
    If that is actually a 408 it has plenty of performance. But how do we know it’s a 408?
    I wish my 92 was that nice.

    Like 1
  6. Howard Kerr

    This looks like a pretty decent deal if this is what you are into.
    Me? I am currently driving a V8 powered sedan and am looking for something more economical.

    Like 0
  7. JCA Member

    I’m guessing it was repainted? The original side and hood graphics were decals with a color fading detail on them. These stripes are solid, maybe painted to look like the original decals…

    Like 2
    • Barry

      At $415 for a complete decal set I doubt they are painted. It’s an original Shelby truck. I’m sure you could get solid rather than the fade if you ordered.

      Like 0
      • JCA Member

        I highly doubt they would offer 2 styles of decals as a factory option. I’m just pointing out that it has reproduction stickers from Ebay on it. That doesn’t mean the truck isn’t a Shelby, just that it doesn’t have the original paint

        Like 1
  8. Charles Mann

    “The AC needs to be charged” meaning = the a/c leaks.
    GUYS, Tell the truth…

    Like 0
  9. OLDSKOOL979

    I have Shelby Dak #979 of the 1484 produced. Been doing it as a driving restomod since 2010. Cosmetically as from Shelby @ Whittier. Drive train has orig 318, Comp roller cam, alum heads, FiTech, MSD ignition, HP exh, 3.90 sure-grip. Currently installing 5-speed manual trans. Engine dynod @ 347hp/358ft#. Super Car-No. Fun street prowler- Absolutely!
    about the listed:
    -Appears to be a magnum engine. Cant tell about induction. If chgd from orig TBI this can cause some hard to fix problems with trans control and A/C. If original,the ecu could be pretty well maxed out with a 408 even if it it is the optional 360 performance ecu.There are NO available chips or upgrades for this ecu.
    -Shelby floor mats and the light bar are VERY hard to find. Also has the correct Shelby bumper pads on the rear.Interior looks great. Shelby wheel ctr caps have been painted over or replaced with blanks.
    -Air dam does not appear to be original. Missing the holes for the Bosch driving lights.
    While the striping is similar to factory it is solid color rather than silver to black with stripes. Windshield logo is missing.
    Additional info: Cooling is the weakness. I have cooked 3 automatic transmissions. At minimum, I would install a separate fan powered cooler (Derale) as big as space under bed allows. Remove the existing trans cooler lines from the radiator. The engine cooling will still be marginal in hot weather or slow speed in traffic. I currently have had Griffin build a custom racing radiator with shroud and 14″puller electric fan. The twin pushers between the A/C condensor and radiator are marginal at best.
    As far as handling, keep in mind that the Dakota used the Viper geometry. With a little judicious lowering, aftermarket suspension bushings, etc. this little truck will get around a corner nicely.
    All in all this truck appears to be a good buy.

    Like 1

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