Hot Rods & Hogs – 1989 Shelby Dakota


Here’s a cool truck from the Hot Rods & Hogs show last weekend in Maltby, WA. With the family-friendly nature of the event and the free registration, it was guaranteed to draw in a wide variety of cars from around the area. Sitting quietly between a shoebox Chevy and a rock crawler, I saw this white Dakota. Check it out below the jump.


1989 was not a particularly special year for me; I turned 7 that year, played soccer, and had dreams of reading enough books in 2nd grade to get another star on my Reading Rainbow button. Free pizza was a powerful motivator for a poor kid, and I blame my teachers for my love of the pizza pie, but I digress. 1989 was a much more interesting year for Carroll Shelby, as you can see from these pictures. The Shelby name hadn’t been applied to a rear-wheel drive vehicle in 20 years, and like Dodge itself did 10 years before, he turned to a pickup to promote his brand and add some excitement to the performance market. After all, why not?

As it turns out, the performance modifications on the Shelby Dakota are simple and few. The engine was a 5.2-liter V-8 from the full-size Dodge pickup, with minor changes under the hood to make it fit. This simple swap added 50 horsepower, bringing the figures to a reasonable 175hp and 270 lb-ft torque.

Out back, the standard 4-speed automatic was matched with a locking torque converter and a limited slip differential, returning a decent 16.5-second quarter mile. Shelby made no changes to the suspension.


Like some Shelby offerings nowadays, the Dakota was an exercise in performance marketing, rather than marketing performance, if you catch my drift. It had the bold graphics on the body, a black molded air dam, and cool light bar, and cloth seat inserts. There’s no denying the Shelby Dakota was faster and sportier than the factory Dakota Sport, although it could have used at least a manual transmission!

I’ve always liked the first generation Dakota; as a child, I knew an old man with a white extended cub model with a burgundy interior and matching pinstripes on the sides, and I thought it was the coolest truck. The first generation is also the most traditional looking of the bunch, and that’s a good thing to me.

How about you? What do you think of this sporty little pickup?


[Photos Copyright 2013 Redusernab/Marcal Eilenstein]

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