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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The 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.

Chrysler 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.

A 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.

Speaking 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.

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

In 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.

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

It 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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • CaseyLE82 CaseyLE82 on Jan 06, 2018

    My dad had one of these back in the mid 1990's (when I was around 12). I remember REALLY liking it. I also remember it having a lot of difficulty in cold weather, and a lot of swear words coming from my dad's mouth in the months from Nov to Feb when he was trying to take me to school in the morning. Still I thought that thing was so cool. A car truck? What? Yes, please. If this thing were priced anywhere in the realm of reason I would pick it up just as a novelty.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Jan 25, 2018

    For all the labels of "crap" no one else has mentioned that this came in #4 in the Crap Cars book. Don't know how useful one of these would be but I'd be interested in taking one for a spin to check it out.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.