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    1. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 09:32 AM #1
      Specifically the early ones.

      I've been sorta looking for a smallish truck for a slow burn, multistage project. Mostly been looking at Rangers, because that's what I know.

      A co-worker has a 1990 Dakota w/ the 5.2 V8 and automatic that I could get for essentially free, but it is currently not running. Their last diagnosis was that it had fuel pressure issues, but that was a year ago, give or take.

      SC truck, so it's not terribly rusty, decent interior, didn't see any signs of rodent infestation in the engine bay. The wider frame than a Ranger or S-10 would make for an easier time doing the IRS swap on down the road (not planning heavy tow loads or anything more challenging than a gravel road, don't @ me bro).

      So what glaring issues am I missing? What are the underlying problems likely to make me hate this truck and seriously question my sanity for doing this?

      How's the aftermarket for non-engine stuff (since the drivetrain will be coming out eventually). How hard would a manual swap be, since it's an automatic now?

      I've seen mention of needing "regular front end suspension maintenance" but what does that mean? Full bushing rebuilds at 60k? 100k? 30k shock life? It's all very vague.

      TCL, lend me your hive mind!
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

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    3. Member 91gti20v's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 09:59 AM #2
      Owned a 94 with the 3.9 V6. Was in the family til about 160k miles. Good to hear this one you are looking at has the 318. Would not recommend the 3.9. Basically gets the same mileage as the V8*.

      It was generally reliable with two issues I recall. The automatics were not the greatest. I cannot say what it would take to do a manual swap, but it would likely be a great improvement. Pretty much every person I talked to had to have the auto rebuilt at some point. The 1st gen 1990 model may have had a different transmissions, but I cannot say for sure.

      I also remember popping a few radiators where the tanks separated from the core.

      Other than that, it was generally reliable. My parents had it for the second half of its life and I don't recall them complaining about it needing a ton of maintenance. My dad did rebuild the wiper linkage a few times..

      If I think of anything else, I'll edit or add another post.
      Last edited by 91gti20v; 03-16-2020 at 11:15 AM.
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      03-16-2020 10:14 AM #3
      OP, you should know that they make great democross trucks!

      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...light=derpkota

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      03-16-2020 10:56 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by 91gti20v View Post
      The automatics were not the greatest.
      This is an understatement, the V8 automatics were horrible.
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    6. Member 91gti20v's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 11:22 AM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by ND40oz View Post
      This is an understatement, the V8 automatics were horrible.
      So I am reading the Gen 1 Dakota either has a 32RH (3 speed) or a 42RH (4 speed) auto. These are different than the 2nd gen transmissions. Cannot comment on the differences, just thought I'd add this info if it helps.
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    7. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 12:05 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by StressStrain View Post
      OP, you should know that they make great democross trucks!
      Good to know!

      What did you destroy most often?


      Quote Originally Posted by ND40oz View Post
      This is an understatement, the V8 automatics were horrible.
      Hmmmmm... The manuals any better?

      Quote Originally Posted by 91gti20v View Post
      So I am reading the Gen 1 Dakota either has a 32RH (3 speed) or a 42RH (4 speed) auto. These are different than the 2nd gen transmissions. Cannot comment on the differences, just thought I'd add this info if it helps.
      I'll ask and see which it has.

      Plan would be to get it running, shake out any "normal" issues with a known configuration.

      Then do the rear swap. Shake down.

      Then do some accessories. Power/heated seats, for instance. I hear Durango seats work. Shake down again.

      Then start parts gathering for the main event!
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

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      03-16-2020 12:49 PM #7
      They go through brakes like sh&$ through a goose.

    9. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 01:30 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by Dirtmvr View Post
      They go through brakes like sh&$ through a goose.
      Fronts, rears, all the above?

      I'd read that there was an issue with the pistons on early models, but late brakes could be swapped and fixed that problem.
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

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      03-16-2020 08:22 PM #9
      Sorry I can’t remember the ratio of back:front replacements but it was at least once a year, and this compared to my 2006 Tacoma that I had for more than ten years and never changed the brakes once! The taco had really good engine braking compared to the Dakota, I think mainly because of the VVT.

    11. 03-16-2020 08:41 PM #10
      Everything you need to know about the early Dakotas:



      and

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      03-16-2020 08:44 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by StressStrain View Post
      OP, you should know that they make great democross trucks!

      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...light=derpkota
      I second this statement
      The past vehicles.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    13. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 09:28 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by TurboMinivan View Post
      Everything you need to know about the early Dakotas:



      and

      The Shelby is delightful, the convertible is frightful!
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    14. Senior Member Iroczgirl's Avatar
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      03-16-2020 09:35 PM #13
      Friend of mine had one. He welded the diff and won a burnout contest with it.

      Otherwise it appeared to be a pile...but lack of maintenance will do that.
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    15. Member 91gti20v's Avatar
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      03-17-2020 10:37 AM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Dirtmvr View Post
      Sorry I can’t remember the ratio of back:front replacements but it was at least once a year, and this compared to my 2006 Tacoma that I had for more than ten years and never changed the brakes once! The taco had really good engine braking compared to the Dakota, I think mainly because of the VVT.
      YMMV I guess. My 94 did not eat brakes...
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    16. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:27 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by StressStrain View Post
      OP, you should know that they make great democross trucks!

      https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthre...light=derpkota
      Quote Originally Posted by 0dd_j0b View Post
      I second this statement
      I've now read that whole thread. That looks like a blast and a all at once!

      I think I'd plan to be a little less... brutal about my modifications, though.
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    17. Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:28 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      I've now read that whole thread. That looks like a blast and a all at once!

      I think I'd plan to be a little less... brutal about my modifications, though.
      No one would ever cut you off though.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead ,99' Acura TL-Sold, 80' Scirocco, DERPKOTA!, 13' WRX
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    18. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:28 AM #17
      So what I'm not hearing are stories about horrendous rust issues, nagging electrical problems, suspensions made of glass, or anything else that would make this a bad homeowner truck.

      Is that basically right?
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    19. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:29 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by 0dd_j0b View Post
      No one would ever cut you off though.
      Did Derpkota ride again in the next season? I noticed the updates kinda cut off abruptly.
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    20. Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:38 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      Did Derpkota ride again in the next season? I noticed the updates kinda cut off abruptly.
      She made it three more races the following season, did pretty well. After the third race I donated it to a fellow derby-er because I was moving to Florida.
      I stopped posting because I didn't do any more upgrades in the off season other than minor repairs and I kinda forgot about the post for a bit lol.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead ,99' Acura TL-Sold, 80' Scirocco, DERPKOTA!, 13' WRX
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    21. Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 12:40 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      So what I'm not hearing are stories about horrendous rust issues, nagging electrical problems, suspensions made of glass, or anything else that would make this a bad homeowner truck.

      Is that basically right?
      Before we converted Derpkota, we used it as a daily. Granted it was channeled and lowered, it was pretty reliable. The drive train never died on that thing, even after we got ran over by a suburban.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead ,99' Acura TL-Sold, 80' Scirocco, DERPKOTA!, 13' WRX
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    22. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 01:36 AM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by 0dd_j0b View Post
      Before we converted Derpkota, we used it as a daily. Granted it was channeled and lowered, it was pretty reliable. The drive train never died on that thing, even after we got ran over by a suburban.
      Good to know!
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    23. Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 02:14 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      Good to know!
      Oh, forgot to add, when we were building it, we did some engine accessory work...like moving the fuel tank, and the first fire up I may or may not have forgotten to plug in 2, 4, 6, 8 cylinder plugs....bastert still ran.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead ,99' Acura TL-Sold, 80' Scirocco, DERPKOTA!, 13' WRX
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

    24. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 07:52 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by 0dd_j0b View Post
      Oh, forgot to add, when we were building it, we did some engine accessory work...like moving the fuel tank, and the first fire up I may or may not have forgotten to plug in 2, 4, 6, 8 cylinder plugs....bastert still ran.
      But I bet it ran very oddly!
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    25. Member 91gti20v's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 02:55 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      So what I'm not hearing are stories about horrendous rust issues, nagging electrical problems, suspensions made of glass, or anything else that would make this a bad homeowner truck.

      Is that basically right?
      In regards to rust, I owned mine in Florida. It was fine. If the one you are looking at has always been in the south, I'd say it would be ok.

      Oh, I forgot, the paint on the roof faded bad in the Florida sun.

      To be honest, if I still lived in Florida when my parents were getting rid of it, I would have taken it off their hands. Always wanted to drop a built 340 small block and six speed in it. A repaint with an AAR strobe stripe down the side. Switch it to 5 lug so I could run some mopar rallyes. I liked it enough that I would have loved to have built it of that tells you anything.
      Last edited by 91gti20v; 03-18-2020 at 03:29 PM.
      1986 3.2 Carrera Mini-build thread:
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      1973 Pro-Touring Camaro build thread:
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    26. Member 0dd_j0b's Avatar
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      03-18-2020 03:20 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by turbinepowered View Post
      But I bet it ran very oddly!
      Ha! I see what you did there.
      The past vehicles.
      93' Camaro-Sold, 87' Cabriolet-Sold, 87' Scirocco 16v-Sold, 85' Scirocco 8v-dead, 13' Jetta-dead, 87' Scirocco 16v-dead ,99' Acura TL-Sold, 80' Scirocco, DERPKOTA!, 13' WRX
      Quote Originally Posted by Seabird View Post
      Hell, you know those ancient cave paintings in France? I betcha those animals were really half the size that the hack scribbler drew.

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