Rugged Ragtop: 1989 Dodge Dakota Convertible

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

This one is a bit new for the pages of Barn Finds, but it’s so unusual and inexpensive that I couldn’t pass it up. This is a 1989 Dodge Dakota Convertible and it’s on Craigslist with an asking price of $900! And, no, the top hasn’t been left down, it was lowered to take the photos, so no worries, there aren’t any leaves inside. Or, I don’t think there are, there are no interior photos! It’s in Eatonton, Georgia, about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Dakota Convertible was made in 1989 and 1990 but some sources say that ASC (American Sunroof Co.) also made 8 of them in 1991. NADA lists the “low retail value” as being $2,125 and the “average value” being $3,925. There’s some room left here if a person can troubleshoot whatever problems there are with this one.

These are rare trucks, in fact they’re still the only post-war production ragtop convertible pickups made. I know, that doesn’t mean much if a person isn’t on board with the idea of a convertible pickup. Supposedly there were around 2,800 of them made in 1989 and a little over 900 of them made in 1990. This one has the automatic transmission instead of a 5-speed manual and it needs a “$75 part”, according to the seller. But, I’m guessing that it’ll need more than that to get this truck on the road again. The body looks good from the two photos that are included and the interior would have looked like this when new, I’m not sure what it looks like now. The 1989 Dakota Convertibles had a 3.9L V6 with around 125 hp and they were offered in either rear-wheel drive like this one, or four-wheel drive. This looks like a decent project for someone who is into unusual, rarely-seen pickups. It doesn’t get much more unusual than a Dakota Convertible! When was the last time you saw one of these? How’s the $900 asking price on this one, given that the “value” for a decent one is a few thousand dollars above that price?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Yeah, kind of the answer to the question nobody asked. I always thought this was a bit odd. They (Dodge) were messing with 2 different groups, convertible lovers and truck lovers. Well, unless you live where it’s warm all the time, I can tell you, a convertible pickup truck wouldn’t cut it around here.( another round of below 0 weather on it’s way, ugh) I had an ’88 Dakota 4×4 similar to this ( regular cab) and it had a ton of miles on it. Brother too, has a 2 wheel drive Dakota, 250K miles ( and still going) Good trucks, just not as convertibles.

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  2. Nova Scotia

    Man, I think this has future collectibility written all over it. Low production, unusual, useful and fun. If it is in decent shape, it will be “picked up” in short order. I’d simply fix as best I could and cruise it in the summer months only. FUN!

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  3. Jay M

    I bought a black/red ’89 for $1,100 because of a bad engine.
    I changed the timing chain and mangled tensioner, ran perfect.
    Spent an entire weekend deep cleaning/detailing it.
    Someone followed me home the next week and gave me 5500 cash. They had never seen one before…

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  4. RONEBEE

    i like it!

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  5. Mitch

    I had 2, non ragtops, 1 ’87 standard cab, & 1 ’96 V8 king cab. The ’87 had the 3.9, which was a 318 with 2 of the cylinders lopped off. It got terrible gas mileage, & barely had enough power to get out of it’s own way, even though it ran like a swiss watch. I liked my ’96 much better, more room in the cab, & an engine that would put out some horses. I put over 100K miles on it, & had to get rid of it when the underside & brake & fuel lines rusted out. The dealer I bought the ’87 off of had a mint ragtop version which he rarely took out.

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  6. Bobsmyuncle

    You can’t make sense of this fiscally, it will have to be a thing of passion.

    I’m pretty familiar with this era of these trucks. All my experience says that as it sits it will need a grand of work minimum just in brakes, suspension and bushings.

    Exhaust? True issue with the tranny? Engine? Body mounts? Rust? Emissions? Interior? Top? Seals?

    But I agree these will likely become highly coveted, so if you get REALLY lucky and/or keep it long enough, you might realize a return on your dollar.

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  7. Bill Terwilleger

    This is rare and worth every penny of $900. I thought it was typo. I am willing to bet it’s sold, if not, it will be in my garage soon.

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  8. Gary

    Auto Restorer Magazine recently had an article on these. Really cool car/truck. Great find.

    1+
  9. Vin in NJ

    This would be a great truck to drive on the beach in Daytona and tailgate off of

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  10. JW

    Had a regular cab 88 Dakota 4×4, nice truck featured but never saw the need for a convertible pickup. The rarity of them makes them future collectibles but not useful ones IMHO as a truck guy.

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  11. Jeffro

    This is close to my hometown. My dad lives in Eatonton. If anybody interested, I can have him check it out.

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  12. angliagt

    Interesting,but a very limited interest vehicle.
    I’ve had three Dakotas,& I love them – a 1994 CubCab-
    V6 5speed,a 2003 Quad Cab V8 automatic,& my current
    1995 Club Cab V8 automatic 4WD.
    I prefer the pre-’96 body style,as it still looks like
    a truck should.These are a little bigger than a Ranger,&
    have a higher towing capacity.
    I like my ’95,because I can tow my car trailer with it,
    & recently towed a 2WD Ford Explorer with it.The bad thing
    is that they used water based paint on the older ones ( & other-
    trucks as well),& it peels after a while.Also expect 12-14 mpg
    with the V8,& 14-16 with the V6.
    That said,I’d really like to find a nice pre-’97,in nice
    shape,for a reasonable price.V8,5 speed,Club Cab 4WD.

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  13. Dave Wright

    Perfect for shooting ducks from the drivers seat………one of my employees has one we took on a debt, did a few minor repairs, it hasn’t missed a day of driving since. 4X4 extended cab with a V8 and 5 speed. good all around truck.

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    • Bingo

      Hmm… while it is against the law to to hunt from your vehicle unless your handicapped, up here in Minnesota, I like your thought process.

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  14. HeadMaster1

    Growing up in Southern California, in the mid to late 80’s it was all the rage to cut the top of your lowered mini-truck. Dodge took it to the next level by bring one to market. Too bad you couldn’t get this combined with the V-8 Shelby version……

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  15. Rodney

    I’ve owned 3 of these through the years and love these trucks. The convertible tops are still available for cheap but some specialty parts like the side windows , plastic trim pieces below the windows, and anything related to the top are getting harder to find.

    My current one is a 1989 4×4 that my brother transplanted a 5.2L V8 and auto out of a 1992 Dakota. If you change the front core support, hood, and bumper it gives you plenty of room for the V8 and standard fan for cooling and he said it was a fairly easy swap. I think the 4×4 uses the same engine mounts where the 2WD you can get conversion kits from engine-mounts.com. Plus I had no problems passing emissions in Arizona since it is still ODB-I like the stock engine and everything looks stock. At 230 HP it’s much more fun to drive and I had a 2WD that someone had swapped an older 360 with a cam into it that really screamed.

    They are a blast to drive and you will get tons of comments on them. The convertible top actually seals up fairly well and if you go with a vinyl cover over the bed it has just enough give when you put the top down to work. The top actually sticks an inch or so below the top of the bed rails when folded all of the way down so if you go with a fiberglass topper you need to shorten the cables so the top doesn’t go down as far.

    This one I have owned for over 12 years and it has over 200,000 mile s on it.

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  16. Neal

    I have always thought these were cool.
    I don’t think these were “the only postwar production ragtop convertible pickups”, though. What about the much more rare than International Harvester Suntanner Terra pickup? I’m a Scout fan, and I’ve always been intrigued by these. Although I think this model may have been a dealer-installed option, so technically not factory produced.

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  17. stillrunners

    How soon we forget the late 70’s/80’s small pick up craze that the Japs kinda had sew up by their cheap hard to kill little pick ups – that were getting the tops cut off !

    When Dodge came out in 1981 I think with the Dakota pick up I wanted one…..when the little Shelby V/8’s came out….I wanted one…..when the drop tops came out….I wanted one…..still wanting….finally bought a 1994 V/8 Sport xcab which I still have with about 275,000 on the old style 318 with a fresh one on the stand when this one starts knocking. Lusted after the R/T Dakota’s on the next body style….but hell I’ve got enough mopar muscle around….

    Good buy….and I bet it’s gone…and will pop up with a flipper….

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  18. Rodney

    They were a “factory” convertible. Apparently almost all convertibles starting around 1977 were made as standard cars and then modified afterwards by someone else. Apparently with the advance of robotics it became too expensive for the big auto makers to do themselves in the limited numbers. ASC was the company that has done most of them I believe and I know my Dakota all had a stickers on them from ASC.

    The only downside of it for me is in Arizona there’s about 3 to 4 months where it’s just too hot to put the top down but luckily I have air conditioning also.

    I hope it goes to a good home. There’s a sad, sad video of one in great condition going to the crusher when the Government had their Cash for Clunkers program years ago.

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  19. JW454

    Here’s my father’s ’89 with 56K on the clock. After he past in 2013 my mother asked me to sell it for her. After 8 months of trying, I finally got $2800 for it.

    R.I.P. Dad.

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  20. Mike H

    A little side comment (er, rant actually). . .

    Who else LOVES when a seller says something like “Needs a $75 part for the transmission, then it’s good to go!” If I’m to understand this correctly, a mere $75 investment will make this fully operational? If that is the case, then why didn’t YOU, the seller, make that paltry investment yourself? I’d have personally thought that the fact that your vehicle was driveable would make it infinitely more marketable overall.

    I see this often in craigslist ads for low-cost “runners”:

    “Needs engine gasket, found one at NAPA for just $18.00!”

    Yeah, that gasket is a head gasket, and along with the numerous labor hours required to install it some costly cylinder head machining will also be required.

    My point is that I’ve lost faith in humanity, I guess. Sick of seeing sellers making their item seem like a bargain by quoting the cost of a repair part rather than either quoting the whole repair cost OR actually having the repair performed prior to making the sale. Were it ever actually so cheap or so easy you’d think that they would have done so already, if not just to make their sale easier.

    My apologies. Carry on. . .

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  21. Vintageracer

    Total Bullshit Ad.

    Responded through CL to purchase and buy truck asking seller to call me to make arrangements to come get the truck.

    Here is the response to my email:

    “craigslist 5937094316
    6:37 AM (3 hours ago)

    to 6f396d4c195435.
    Sry just saw Nashville. Sure – call cell at 7964732441. We share a cell and wife has it most of day. Leave a message and I will call you back.”

    Just so everyone knows.

    796 is NOT a telephone Area Code used in USA.

    796 is used alot by spammers and scammers!

    Flag the CL ad!

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  22. Chuck

    It’s a great truck and price, but I’ve been trying to contact the guy since it first went up but still no response from him in any way.

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  23. Rodney

    Apparently these can still go for a good price. Not sure what it sold for but here’s a stock one with 114,000 miles they had listed for $11,995.
    http://gatewayclassiccars.com/tampa/1989/dodge/dakota-S692.html

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  24. Anthony j

    I got a 1990 Dakota convertible white / black top LE , chrome bumpers and stainless steel wheelwell trim 18000 miles MINT CONDITION. Not my daily driver . Love my truck

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  25. kino

    you´re still selling the truck?

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