To the average Craigslist eye, this is a grainy picture of a Dodge Dakota Convertible at night. A convertible, a bit weird, and a 1990, so most assume that it will fall apart any second, and then the clear coat will peel off. But by over-observing and drilling down to the individual parts... This plain looking Dakota gets really complicated.

But, there is something more here. Though this claims that this is a 1990, it has a several parts that are not correct to the year.

  • The grille is off a 1991 or newer truck
  • The wheels, 6-lugs, introduced in 1991
  • The headlights are post 1990, definitely after 1992.
  • Badging and trim match late 1990's and 1991 trucks.

To many, this simply means that the truck was maintained well and parts were replaced when they failed or modified, so what’s the big deal? Well, a Dodge Dakota convertible with these parts opens these 4 possibilities:

1. It is a 89 or 90 with several >1991 parts swapped in.

2. It is a regular cab 1991 with the roof cut off (or painted black, and probably not structurally safe)

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3. It is complete BS and a scam

-or-

4. It is one of 8, 1991 Dodge Dakota convertibles

The 1991 Dodge Dakota Convertible is a bit of a Mopar truck legend, kind of like the new Ram SRT10 or new Rampage; except these exist. There has only been one sale of a 1991 convertible in recent years, and a handful of pictures of some the others, but no one really knows where they are.

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1989 Dakota convertible
1990 Dakota convertible

Most people know about the 1989 Dakota Convertible. It came in red, white, or black and looked just like the regular version, but the roof came off. In 1990, Dodge branched out and offered the convertible in a myriad of other colors (like blue). The full list of colors is unknown. Moreover, the 1991 convertibles weren’t even disclosed to exist. It is believed this is because every one of the 8 1991's were sold before they were built. Therefore, there are no known records of the features and colors that the 91's were sold with.

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The only listing of a 91 was a number of years ago on eBay (Here is an autoquid archive). I am only able to locate 2 pictures of the 91's from the old DakotaConvertible Forums.

This is the same 1991 truck from the eBay (autoquid) listing. Interestingly, it came with the 5.7L V8.
This is the other picture. This was annotated as the only Dakota convertible with an 8 foot bed.

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So is this Craigslist listing for one of those 8 convertibles? It is hard to tell just though these pictures. The grille is correct, and the headlights are post 1992. 1991 had sealed beam headlights, halogens were introduced in 1992. Many 1991 owners replaced their sealed beam lights with halogens when their lights failed. Both 1991 convertibles shown have the newer headlights.

The wheels are correct, the 6-stud wheels were introduced in 1991. Did that come from the factory, or did some person replace the wheel hubs for the 6-lug configuration. The badging and trim pieces are correct for the 1991 period as well. It is pretty convincing.

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Thanks to California’s very accessible license registration database, I was able to located the VIN of the Dakota in the ad... (1B7FL69X0LS648127). I put the VIN into a decoder and received back the following...

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As you can see this is a 1990. That would pretty much put all speculation to rest correct? Just for giggles, I compared that to the VIN supplied in the eBay listing. .

So back to the truck in the ad. What is it? Most likely it is a 1990 that has been maintained at least some point during it’s 27 year life. Most likely, the current/previous owner(s) either repaired or modified this truck with newer parts. Since the first generation of Dakota’s went from 1987-1996, it is very easy to bolt on parts from the later years.

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I keep saying “most likely” because who really know. It would seem like a lot of effort to replace all of those parts. There is still one test that could be done to this one. In 1991, the engine bay of all Dakotas was enlarged to fit the 5.2L V8. If this one has the larger engine bay it could mean one of 3 things

  1. It is in fact a 1991 (design).
  2. The previous modifications went very deep in detail.
  3. It has been in an accident.

But there is no way to do that test without looking weird. Also I have faith that the California Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t screw up the paperwork... certainly not... that would never happen...

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But this one, just looks strange...