The 1998-2003 Dodge Dakota R/T is a riot in disguise. Shoving the 250hp/345tq 360 into the Dakota and backing up the powertrain with a 9.25″ rear packing 3.92 gears, the Dakota surprised those who gave the “baby Ram” a shot. Stock they were a sight better than the 318-powered trucks, but a 360 can be built up to be something nasty, and in a truck that weighs in at about 3,400, that makes for some entertaining driving. I’ve always liked these Dakotas simply because they fit the basic muscle car model beautifully: biggest engine, smaller basic vehicle, turned from a ho-hum pedestrian vehicle into something to behold. Were they the most exciting Mopar? Nope, but they are exciting, and they can run like a scalded cat while making the same amount of noise.
This footage comes out of Rockford Speedway and is a couple of years ago, and shows every reason why I like these trucks. This particular Dakota R/T is preparing for a drift competition and is getting in some practice time, but if it weren’t for the catch fence you could picture this same overall scene in a parking lot sometime after midnight. The Dakota hangs out pretty well for what looks like a lowered-but-stock setup and the truck makes the right noises as it blasts around the course.