This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
Dodge Dakota Sidewinder
First Seen: 1997 SEMA Show
Description: High-performance convertible pickup truck
Sales Pitch: “Built for street-truck nuts–a truck with real attitude.”
Details: First seen at the 1997 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Dodge Dakota Sidewinder Concept, also referred to simply as the Dodge Sidewinder, was never intended to foreshadow a production vehicle. The convertible pickup was rendered by Chrysler designer Mark Allen, and rode on a unique chassis built for Dodge by motorsport fabricators Riley & Scott. Shoehorned under the hood was a Viper-sourced 8-liter V10 tuned to produce 640 horsepower. A 4-speed automatic transmission completed the drivetrain.
The concept truck was shod with then massive 21-inch wheels on the front axle and 22-inch units in the rear. The functional concept was good for a claimed 3.9-second 0-60 mph sprint and was capable of reaching 170 mph.
This was not Dodge’s first foray into the convertible pickup truck arena. A short-lived Sport Convertible version of the Dodge Dakota was rolled out for 1989, but slow sales limited production and the model was dropped after 1991.
CG Says: It’s a bummer that Dodge didn’t see fit to consider the Sidewinder for production, but a manufacturer can only dedicate so many resources to boutique products that aren’t likely to generate real revenue. Keep in mind that it was in 1997 that production of the open-wheel retro Plymouth Prowler began, and Chrysler wasn’t likely to underwrite another limited-production sports car.
What’s most interesting to me is how much the Sidewinder looks like the Chevrolet SSR, a vehicle which was actually delivered to the buying public. That said, given the SSR’s dismal sales performance, it’s probably a good thing Dodge passed on producing the Sidewinder.