Only Carroll Shelby Could Build A Truck As Cool As This

Trucks / 11 Comments

This one-year-only Shelby Dakota could be yours.

When Henry Ford II fired then-Ford president Lee Iacocca in 1978, the latter quickly found a new job heading up the Blue Oval's crosstown rival, Chrysler. Not only did Iacocca save Chrysler from financial collapse with the K-car lineup and minivans (an idea shot down by the Deuce), but he also brought along his Ford Rolodex. One of the names and phone numbers it contained was none other than his old friend Carroll Shelby.

The two first met back when Ford II ordered a race car capable of beating Ferrari at Le Mans. Iacocca understood what needed to be done and he approached Shelby to make it happen. Once Iacocca got Chrysler's finances under control, he decided some performance cars were needed and asked Shelby to help out. Among those vehicles was the 1989 Dodge Shelby Dakota pickup truck.

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It was a one-model-year run with only 1,500 examples built. It was also Shelby's first rear-wheel-drive project in several years, and he knew exactly what to do. Power came from a 5.2-liter V8 totaling 175 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque instead of the standard 3.9-liter V6 that Dodge normally used. The only transmission offered was a four-speed automatic.

Other features included a limited-slip differential, unique air dam and bumpers, Bosch fog lamps, monogrammed seats and door panels, and unique Shelby wheels wearing Goodyear rubber. Only two exterior colors were offered: red or white, but all trucks came with exterior 'Shelby' graphics.

Performance? First off, bear in mind this was 1989, so its 0-60 mph time of 8.5 was quite impressive for a truck at the time.

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Its nearly $16,000 price tag was huge for a mid-size truck then, but this didn't stop sales. In fact, both GM and Ford responded with the GMC Syclone and Ford Lighting not long after. Today, surviving Shelby Dakotas are a relatively rare thing, and now one has come up for auction.

This nearly perfect example will cross the stage at the Mecum auction in May, which was originally set to take place at the Indy 500, but that race has since been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, the original auction dates of May 12-17 remain, though it will likely take place online.

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This particular example only has 5,851 miles on its clock and is No. 1,253 of 1,500 built. It was even signed by Shelby himself on one of the sun visors. Rumor has it Ram is planning to revive the Dakota mid-size truck and could potentially be built on the same platform underpinning the Jeep Gladiator. If so, it'd once again face off with the Ford Ranger.

Will a high-performance version for either one arrive? Unknown for now, but you could just buy this one and also own a piece of history at the same time.

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Source Credits: Mecum Auctions

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