When Dodge built a Subaru Brat fighter.
Nothing like the Dodge Rampage exists from any automaker doing business in North America. Heck, the so-called ute, a famed body style from Australia, hasn't been around for years. Which is a real shame because it offers the best of all worlds. Not everyone requires a truck with serious off-roading capabilities, but some would like the cargo bed in lieu of a rear seat. Think of the old school Subaru Brat, as just one example. Others include the Chevy El Camino and - if you can recall - the VW Rabbit Sportruck. These were all relatively well-known in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s but they're a rare find today.
The Dodge Rampage is especially so and we wouldn't be surprised if this is the first time you've heard of it.
The Rampage, launched in 1982, rode on the same L-platform developed by Chrysler as a direct response to the 1970s energy crisis. The Dodge Omni, a direct rival to the VW Golf, is perhaps the best-known model the platform underpinned. But Chrysler was interested in utilizing this platform even further as sort of an experiment.
The Rampage was sort of a combination of parts and styling. It had the Omni's suspension and the unibody construction and front fascia from the L-body Charger (which was nothing like the past and present muscle car). Instead of a rear seat and hatch, there was a truck bed with a load capacity of 1,145 pounds. To compare, the El Camino was rated at 1,250 pounds.
What was under the hood was nothing special but it got the job done: a 2.2-liter inline-four rated at just 96 horsepower paired to a standard four-speed manual or optional three-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual arrived for the 1983 model year.
Those who know their Chrysler and Shelby history will know that this was the time when Carroll Shelby was called up by his old friend Lee Iacocca to come work his magic at the then-fledgling Chrysler. Iacocca's days at Ford were finished but Chrysler, which he ultimately saved from bankruptcy, quickly hired him as CEO. Shelby's crew spotted the Rampage and simply couldn't help themselves. In their free time, they were rumored to have built a one-off Shelby Rampage.
In California alone, a total of 250 Rampages were sold with a Shelby Charger-sourced front fascia, larger 15-inch alloy wheels, and a special exterior trim package. Despite this, the Dodge Rampage was not a sales success and lasted for just three models years. Given that only 37,400 or so examples were built nearly four decades ago, there are very few survivors today. This is one of them.
Up for sale by Auto Express Enterprise in Orlando, Florida is this automatic-equipped 1982 Dodge Rampage with only 70,355 miles. Asking price is $5,500. No other details are provided in the description but it appears to be in overall excellent shape. It should also be noted this Rampage is accident-free. It may not be the fastest or most stylish 80s relic out there, but it's got tons of character. Character always goes a long way.