Morning Symphony: A Dodge Dakota R/T With A Severe Attitude Problem!


Morning Symphony: A Dodge Dakota R/T With A Severe Attitude Problem!

It was dirty and dingy, but still bright yellow in the sea of traffic as I was making my way into Bowling Green the other day: a Dodge Dakota R/T, proudly proclaimed by gel-like lettering on the tailgate. It’s strange to think that performance did come from Mopar brands between 1971 and the arrival of the reborn Charger and Challenger…many don’t want to remember the front-wheel-drive turbo years, nobody really knows about the 360/four-speed Magnums that were sold south of the border in the early 1980s, and the luxo-boats of the 1970s are only fondly remembered as the cop cars that chased the Duke Boys, nothing more. By the time Chrysler’s renaissance kicked off in the early 1990s, you had the Viper, which was always playing in it’s own league, and…um…stay with us now…

Truth be told, you couldn’t really consider the Ram truck to be anything more than a V8-powered pickup. It wasn’t anything to get excited over. And Chrysler/DCX was still in front-wheel-drive hell, hawking Intrepids, Stratus and minivans left, right and center. But then the Dakota got tapped for a sport package: the Magnum 360, the 46RE automatic, and an exhaust note that cashed checks that the 15-second timeslips couldn’t quite back up without some help. But good God, what a burnout machine. Crank the wheel in an intersection, give the Magnum a bootful and the little midsizer would whip around faster than a surprised cat. The beauty of all of it was that once you got past the differences between LA and Magnum, your typical 408ci stroker build was a go. Beef up the automatic, build the hell out of the block, and make sure you have enough traction out back and you had a sucker-maker that would embarrass those who mistook you for a sport-truck poser.

The only way you’ll get one faster than this all-black screamer you’ll see here is to swap in Hellcat running gear…and there is one that is up and moving.


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