1st-Gen Dodge Dakota Gets Modernized Rendering Treatment, Keeps Two-Tone Paint

Is Dodge planning to bring back the Dakota or not? On the one hand, dealers keep asking for a smaller truck, and on the other, officials keep denying one is developed, even though we've seen the prototypes. What we do know is the first-gen Dakota was a real looker.
1st-Gen Dodge Dakota Gets Modernized Rendering Treatment Keeps Two-Tone Paint 3 photos
1st-Gen Dodge Dakota Gets Modernized Rendering Treatment, Keeps Two-Tone Paint1st-Gen Dodge Dakota Gets Modernized Rendering Treatment, Keeps Two-Tone Paint
Photoshopping master wb.artist20 has done it again, creating a retro-modern version of a vehicle nobody thinks about. His work brings out the beauty of the original model by bringing its design into the modern age.

It all starts with the front end, which sports a black plastic version of the classic design. The headlights are refreshingly square, while the two-tone paint is more colorful than anything sold today. Can industrial robots even paint like that?

In other regards, the Dakota rendering looks modern. For example, it's got lower suspension, bigger wheels, and a variety of familiar badging. But it's not something most people would consider buying. Maybe the Toyota Tacoma or Jeep Gladiator crowd will be into this kind of look.

The first-gen Dakota was available for ten model years, 1987 to 1996. It was built to slot between the tiny 50 series of pickups and the regular-sized Ram, sharing parts with other products. It was initially a huge sales success, beating out every Ram truck or van in the year of its launch.

The original Dakota also had a few wild versions. For 1989, Dodge tried to offer a convertible version, but it didn't catch on. The same year, the Shelby Dakota was offered. It had a short body and targeted sporty performance thanks to a 5.2-liter V8 with around 175 horsepower, throttle-body injection, Nitrogen-charged shocks, and some cosmetic updates.

The Dakota was discontinued in 2011 due to several reasons. One of them was pricing, which was higher than some Ram 1500 models. There were reliability issues, too, of course. So why bring it back? The smaller truck market is booming right now because the regular models are getting too big and expensive.

There's real demand there, as Jeep sold over 77,000 Gladiator pickups in 2020. And even though the Dakota should have the same 3.6-liter V6 as the Jeep, we see this as a better rival to the Toyota Tacoma or Ford Ranger.


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