COAL:1998 Dodge Dakota – Plum Crazy

Doesn’t look like much, but it worked good.

Not being satisfied with the way that the ’87 Chevy truck in many ways – power, comfort, etc – I was on the lookout for a cheap, reliable truck.  I had the ’01 CR-V for day-to-day use.  I’d spotted this little Dakota and the price was right.

I didn’t set out to specifically get a Dakota, but there wasn’t a lot of options around in the sub-$2000 range that wasn’t beat up.  Worn out half-tons, full of body rot, mostly.  So when the little Dakota appeared for $1100, I bought it.

Yay, a 5-speed!

So what did I get?  A plum-purple, faded paint, 3.9 V6 5-speed extended cab Dakota.  Mechanically it was fine.  With only 120,000 KM on it, and a solid body and frame, it appeared to be a bargain.  The engine pulled well, the transmission shifted nicely, and the brakes and front end were tight.  For the small size, there was a lot of room inside it, and the seats were comfy enough.  There wasn’t much wind noise, either.  It was a bit dirty, though.  Nothing a good cleaning wouldn’t fix.  A good washing up and we were all set to go.

Chryslers of this age all seemed to have really nicely designed interiors.  Love the backlighting on the dash.

We didn’t do much travelling while camping, usually within 2 hours of home.  Turns out it wouldn’t have been a worry anyway.  The truck never gave any trouble in my year of ownership.  Fuel mileage was rumoured to be poor in these, but I would average around 20 MPG with it.  Not bad.  The 3.9 was an eager little engine too.  Being port injected helped things.  It could tow the old camper with ease at 110 KM/H where the Chevy could only have dreamed of doing.

New camper (on left), old truck.

My wife and I had decided to get a new camper.  We found the little Trillium too small for the two of us plus our daughter, so we got ourselves a 12-foot Coleman popup.  The little Dodge proved satisfactory for this duty as well.

I was looking at putting a fresh coat of paint on it, when one of my friends offered me his SUV at a good price.  I knew it well, and it had an easy life.  I couldn’t turn it down.  I gave the little purple Dakota to my brother, whom it served well for a few years.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Chrysler products.  When they’d get it right, they got it really right.  These must have been a good truck for Chrysler – I still see them plugging along.  It was a good, basic little truck.