Dodge Dakota Convertible
Dodge Dakota Convertible. Click image to enlarge

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By Jeff Burry

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Dodge Dakota Sport convertible

A lot can be said about top-down driving: there is no better remedy for eliminating stress and pressure from your psyche than driving down a curvy country road, not a worry percolating inside that grey matter we possess. It’s a feeling that everyone deserves to experience at least once in their lifetime. Try this in a convertible pickup truck, and you combine hedonistic excitement with the utility of a pickup. Okay, maybe I am stretching it a little, but you know what I mean!

Since 1987, the Dodge Dakota pickup had been a strong seller for Chrysler: it was the first mid-size pickup offered with an optional V8 engine (available in later years) and rack and pinion steering. The Dakota was slightly larger than the more compact Ford Ranger and Chevrolet S-10 providing a cargo bay more comparable to that of the larger Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra.

Wanting to capitalize on the ever-increasing specialty pickup market of the 1980’s, Chrysler decided to chop the roof off its Dakota model in 1989. The Dodge Dakota Sport convertible was the first convertible pickup since 1934 when Ford Motor Company built a roadster with a truck bed. Sadly, this concept quickly faded and it would take another five decades before such a vehicle would make its way back into dealer showrooms across the country.

Billed as the “ultimate fun truck,” the Dakota featured a manual vinyl top which could be folded back behind the seats and concealed by a boot cover. The top could even be removed completely if one desired. The trucks were assembled in Warren, Michigan, and shipped to the American Sunroof Company (ASC). Fitted with a padded steel roll bar, it was perhaps the most unique pickup on the market at the time.

Dodge Dakota Convertible
Dodge Dakota Convertible. Click image to enlarge

Chrysler sold 2,842 of these Dakota Sport convertibles in its first year, 1989.

All 1989 Dakota Sport convertibles were powered by a 125-horsepower fuel-injected V6 and were available with either a five-speed manual or an optional three-speed automatic transmission. Potential buyers also had the choice of two models – a 4×2 version or a 4×4 shift-on-the-fly model. Base prices for the non 4×4 models started at $14,425.

Standard equipment included 15-inch sport wheels, a tachometer, power steering, power door locks and power windows, dual remote mirrors and fog lights. Exterior colours were limited to red, black or white. A graphics package was also available for those who wanted to make an even bolder statement.

Many exterior appointments such as the grill, bumpers, headlight bezels, door and tailgate handles were also painted black, giving the Dakota a more distinctive and aggressive look. Optional equipment included automatic transmission ($819), larger capacity fuel tank ($53), air conditioning ($804) and an upgraded stereo package ($125).

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