Rare Rides: A 1984 Dodge Rampage, the Efficient Forgotten Trucklet

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageThe small car-based truck market was an interesting place in the early 1980s. Chevrolet had a hit on its hands with the El Camino, and it caught other manufacturers empty handed. By then, Ford had lost its LTD-based Ranchero pickup, and in its grief turned to a short-lived experiment called the Durango, based on the Fairmont Futura.

Dodge tried this one. The Rampage.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageChrysler used one of its existing small platforms to create the Rampage. No, not the K, the other one — the L-body. Flexible in nature, the little Omni hatchback that could morphed first into the sporty Charger and Turismo, and from there was hacked into the trucklet you see here.

Sold between 1982 and 1984 as the Rampage under the Dodge banner, and as the Scamp for Plymouth (’83 only), Chrysler figured it could scrape some sales off the top of the El Camino and the Subaru BRAT.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageA four-speed manual or three-speed automatic moved the Rampage forward. One engine choice was available: Chrysler’s 2.2-liter inline-four. This engine and later its 2.5-liter derivative were offered in almost everything front-drive from Chrysler between 1981 and 1995. Seriously.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageSpeaking of front drive, the Rampage was only front drive. Competition like the El Camino was solely rear drive, and the BRAT offered four-wheel drive as an option. Compromise was a necessity in this class of vehicle.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageStated load capacity for the Rampage was 1,145 pounds, meaning it had a half-ton rating the El Camino couldn’t match.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageIn the end, none of that mattered. Demand was weak, with first-year sales under 20,000 vehicles, and just over 8,000 the year after that. This 1984 Rampage is one of 11,732. After those figures, Chrysler decided it was time to call it quits. It wasn’t the only one; all the small car-based trucks were on their way out by the end of the ’80s, as customers turned to larger and more capable body-on-frame trucks.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageLocated somewhere in Michigan, this Rampage confuses with sporty two-tone paint, air conditioning, the aforementioned automatic, and some sweet and luxurious wheel covers.

Image: 1984 Dodge RampageIt all looks in nice condition, though not quite pristine. 77,000 miles on the odometer, and the seller is asking $7,250. Is the Rampage a future collectible, or forgettable crap?

[Images via seller]