While 1st and 2nd Gen Dodge Dakota pickups did come with an optional 5.2 or 5.9L V8 engine, aka the 318 and 360 for you Mopar enthusiasts, the most they made was a measly 250 horsepower. Even if you have a 5.7L HEMI from a 2003 Jeep Cherokee or Durango, they made 335 horsepower in stock trim. These were the lowest power number Gen 3 HEMI engines produced, and yet still make 85 horsepower more than the best 5.9 Magnum available. With headers and a performance tune, even those combinations are making more like 370 horsepower without all the factory hindrances. Building a 550 horsepower Gen 3 HEMI is an easy bolt together affair in 2021, so you can imagine how much fun one would be in a First or Second Gen Dakota.
Lucky for you, Holley has the parts to do just that, and in this video below Ray Frescas shows you some of the parts you can choose from to complete your own swap without needing to be a fabricator. This is an important distinction in the Holley kits, as it only takes hand tools to put one of these together. I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to be the guy that wants to cut and weld my own stuff together, but man there is something nice about parts that work together as a system so that you can spend as much time enjoying the drive as you did enjoying the build.
Watch the video, and let us know what you think.