The early 1990s were an interesting time for compact trucks. For some reason, auto manufacturers got the idea that pickup trucks were just too boring and that they needed to be more fun and exciting and sporty!
In 1991, General Motors released the one-year-only GMC Syclone. This compact pickup featured a powerful turbocharged 4.3L V6 engine that produced 280 horsepower and ran circles around everything else on the road. With its blacked-out appearance and lowered stance, the Syclone was essentially a factory hot rod that became instantly collectible.
Not long after that in 1993, Ford introduced the SVT Lightning – a souped up version of their popular F150 pickup. Ford’s in-house Special Vehicle Team worked the truck over and came up with a 240 HP version of the 5.4L V8 engine. The truck also had a stronger frame, aluminum driveshaft, a lowered ride height, and special wheels and tires to complete the package. Sold through 1995, the SVT Lightning was another highly desirable pickup that had been hot-rodded by the factory.
So what was the Chrysler group up to during this time? Well, they were also looking for ways to make small trucks more fun and exciting. In 1989, Chrysler took the Dodge Dakota compact pickup and did something unusual: they offered it with an optional convertible roof.
The idea of a small truck with a convertible roof and a roll bar seems pretty cool. I can kind of imagine driving home from the hardware store with the wind in your hair and enjoying it. The problem is, Dodge decided to stop there. Aside from the roof, the Dakota Sport was no different from the regular Dakota pickup.
Engine choices were a 2.4L four cylinder making 99 HP or a 3.9L V6 making 125 HP – not enough to get anybody riled up. Dodge discontinued the Dakota Sport in 1991 after building about 3,800 of them.
It’s not the kind of thing you expect to pull up next to you at the stoplight on your way home from work, but that’s exactly what happened to me. While nowhere near as fast as the other sport trucks of the era, the Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible is made unique by its extremely limited production, and I think that makes it worth mentioning.