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Old 06-01-2016, 07:18 PM   #1
robertmee
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Factory Vert Truck Build

I'm about 3 months into this project, so I thought I might start posting a few pictures. This build is unconventional and not really a HP junkie traditional racer/sport vehicle, but some may get some enjoyment out of the unusual.

So, the vehicle is a 1990 Dakota Convertible. In 1989, Dodge introduced the first factory convertible truck (long before the SSR). They sent 1900 and some change 89 SE Dakotas to ATC to modify with a factory drop top. In 1990, they only produced an additional 900 or so, and in 91, built the remaining 8 and shut it down. There's a somewhat cult following of the trucks but their value is pretty non-existent, so I didn't mind 'modifying' it from factory in true HPJ style.

Here's a pic of the truck as I bought it....half the truck was gutted already, the engine sitting in the bed, and lots of stuff missing. The junkyard has become my friend.

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Old 06-01-2016, 07:20 PM   #2
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The tired V6 and all the junk I don't plan on using
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:20 PM   #3
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:22 PM   #4
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I stripped the truck completely down to the frame, but left the cab on. Sand blasted the frame, suspension, firewall and radiator support. Painted the frame and under cab with POR15 and then a gloss enamel.

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Old 06-01-2016, 07:26 PM   #5
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Rebuilt a crate Mopar 360/380HP Magnum. The pedigree of this motor is I bought it off Kurt Busch's raceshop. It was an engine used in a demo nascar for shows. Engine had 200 or so miles on it, from driving the car on/off the trailer and parades and such. It was painted ugly hemi orange, so I completely stripped it with a wirewheel and paint stripper and repainted. It has a Mopar Performance Dual plane M1 intake, Edelbrock 1406 Carb, shorty headers, and a Skip White distributor.

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Old 06-01-2016, 07:29 PM   #6
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The 90 Dak came with an A500 (42rh) transmission, which is the old 904 Torqueflite with an overdrive unit. Draggers love the 904's due to their gearing and light rotating mass, so I decided to rebuild the A500 instead of going with a more common A518 (46rh) that was one the later Ram trucks with the 5.9L/360 magnum. I beefed up the sprags, and bands, went with Kolene steels and Reds Clutches, a transgo shift kit plus rebuilt the valve body. It should hold up fine with the mild 380HP magnum.

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Old 06-01-2016, 07:32 PM   #7
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Other than that, I've been busy, changing out everything worn, which is 90% of the truck it seems. I've changed out rear axle bearings, all new rear drum setups, all new brake lines and hoses, all new front rotors, calipers, shoes, shocks, etc. Putting in Poly bushings everywhere (body, sway bar, front suspension). I'm not keeping track of expenses because I don't want to know and I'm sure it would be depressing

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Old 06-01-2016, 07:34 PM   #8
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:35 PM   #9
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:44 AM   #10
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nice work! Can't wait to see when you finish!!
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Old 06-04-2016, 05:18 PM   #11
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looking really good so far!
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:17 PM   #12
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Thanks guys....started running fuel lines this weekend, blasted and painted the battery tray, Trans supports and sway bar. Also installed new poly bushings on the cab body. Getting close to dropping the engine in...can't wait!
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Old 01-21-2017, 09:08 AM   #13
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Been awhile since I've updated, but steadily making progress. Got the truck back from paint this past week with the exception of the hood. Paint job looks fantastic and will post up some pics soon. Went with a near factory red with a hint of copper pearl in it. The reason I don't have the hood yet is this build is for my wife and she wanted some custom art. Because of her name and attitude she has a nickname of "Swampfire" and this is the mural we and Zak at ZMCC came up with. Will be cleared next week.



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Old 01-21-2017, 09:34 AM   #14
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wow, can't wait to see it all together.
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Old 02-22-2017, 03:53 PM   #15
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It's never easy....So, in order to fit the V8 into the 90, I had to do some fab work on the front. The 87-90 Dakotas had the square nose, and even with an electric pusher fan, there's not enough room to fit the engine inside the radiator. In 89, Shelby did it with the Shelby Dakota but they moved the engine back against the firewall, changing the mounts and entire drive line. I wasn't up for that. In 91-96, Dodge redesigned the front ends to fit the new 5.2 V8 option and they did it by moving the core support forward 3 inches, using a swept back core so they could re-use the fenders, and extending the bumper mounts. I have an old 95 Dakota that I could measure off of as a template, so after some cutting and welding and drilling, I made my 90 frame resemble the front of a 91 frame. Swapped in the front Core, bumper, grill and lights from a 94, and voila....I have a frankenstein 90/91 vert. Mind you, Dodge built 8 of these verts in 91 (and only ONE with the 5.2 V8), so I'm still somewhat in the realm of being a purist, and now I have only the second swept nose vert V8 in existance, and the only one with a 5.9L

Anyway, finished front end, other than I need to drill one more hole for the bumper mounts...only two bolts on each side holding it now and it originally had 3. But wanted to mock it all up to make sure everything fit.


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Old 02-22-2017, 05:16 PM   #16
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In high school I worked at the local Dodge dealership washing cars. One of the techs had a Shelby Dakota. I washed it a few times and thought it would be a fun truck. Keep chugging along!
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:29 AM   #17
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Looking good man!
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Old 02-24-2017, 07:14 AM   #18
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Those came out when I was in high school (yeah I'm old as hell), and I always thought they were cool.

Should be a awesome cruiser when done
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:16 AM   #19
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Cool cruiser! I didn't know the early Dakotas weren't available with a V8. Every convertible I've seen was a V6 and I always wondered why you wouldn't get something that with a V8.
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Old 02-24-2017, 01:26 PM   #20
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Cool cruiser! I didn't know the early Dakotas weren't available with a V8. Every convertible I've seen was a V6 and I always wondered why you wouldn't get something that with a V8.
Short answer is space constraints...even though 87 to 96 is considered Gen 1, the 87 to 90 front end was completely different than the 91 to 96. Also, in 92, the magnum engine became available which helped. The magnum water pump is a full 3 inches shorter than the LA water pump. Plus the nose moved forward in 91, also giving more room. It was an engineering feat to cram a v8 in the 89 Shelby Dakota, requiring pusher fans, moving motor mounts, shortening the drive train, etc.
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Old 03-08-2017, 03:43 PM   #21
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Fenders back on and plumbing engine.
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:30 AM   #22
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Maiden Voyage today, to muffler shop
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Old 05-03-2017, 09:32 AM   #23
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Looking good
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Old 05-03-2017, 10:50 AM   #24
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I know it's the perspective, but dang, that looks like a huge battery relative to the size of the engine.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:54 PM   #25
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I know it's the perspective, but dang, that looks like a huge battery relative to the size of the engine.
Dunno....it's the stock battery for a 91-96 V8 dakota.
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