By on April 25, 2022

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, front-wheel-drive econoboxes that began life as Chrysler Europe designs, proved to be strong sellers in North America, Lee Iacocca and his poker buddies decided that a pickup based on the Omnirizon platform would be a fine idea. The result was the Dodge Rampage and its Plymouth-badged sibling, the Scamp. I found one of those cartrucks in a Denver-area wrecking yard a while back.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAlthough the Plymouth Division had a history of selling trucks that goes way back (and continued through the Malaise Era), the Scamp (which took its name from a Valiant submodel of the previous decade) existed for just the 1983 model year and ended up being the very last Plymouth-badged new truck available here. The Rampage had a longer career as part of the more truckish Dodge brand, being built for the 1982 through 1984 model years.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’ve managed to find nearly as many Scamps as Rampages during my junkyard travels, with two Scamps and two Rampages— including a super-rare Prospector— appearing before my camera prior to today (for some reason, all three of my junkyard Rampages have been ’83s). There was a California-only Shelby Rampage as well, but I’m not holding my breath about finding one of those in a car graveyard.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, instrument cluster - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAmmeters were still fairly common in new vehicles in the early 1980s, a hangover from the weak generators and flaky batteries of earlier decades, so this truckcar got one even as its oil-pressure and coolant-temperature gauges became a penny-shaving two-fer-one idiot light. Whatever gauge or light would have gone on the opposite side of the speedo has a FRONT • WHEEL • DRIVE badge as a filler.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt’s in rough shape, with plenty of rust-through in the usual spots.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, engine compartment - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe engine would have been an 83-horsepower 2.2 straight-four just like the optional plant in the Omnirizon that year (Peugeot and VW engines were available in the cheaper early Omnirizons), but it’s long gone.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe interior is completely gutted as well, with none of the telltale leftover fasteners that suggest removal in the junkyard. I suspect that this was a parts truck for a Rampage enthusiast who discarded it once the good stuff was gone.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, wheel - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI doubt a Rampage enthusiast would have driven on flat rear tires for enough miles to nearly erase this one, though. Perhaps that was done by the second-to-last owner.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, wheel - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe wheel on the other side is even scarier. I’m guessing there was a lot of Everclear drinking and maybe glue-huffing involved in this Rampage’s final drive.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis cartruck had the base four-on-the-floor manual transmission, which remained available in new US-market cars all the way through 1996. The five-speed manual cost an extra 75 bucks (about $220 in 2022 dollars), while a three-speed automatic went for $439 ($1,290 now). That’s a lot to spend on a truck that listed at just $6,683 (around $19,646 today).

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe front-wheel-drive pickup turned out to be something of an evolutionary dead end, with the pickup version of the Volkswagen Rabbit getting the ax here at the same time as the Rampage. Truly small pickups of any sort were mostly gone from the American market by the end of the decade, too.

1983 Dodge Rampage in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPerhaps a longing for a more modern Rampage is what led some Denver-area Neon owner to build a backyard Neonpage.


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[Images courtesy of the author]

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10 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Rampage...”


  • avatar
    midnite_clyde

    Have an ’82 in a barn. Was my daily driver back in the day. Cream color. With the light weight, the 2.2 4 speed was plenty of oomph to get me around. Really enjoyed that little truck. It was an eye catcher.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    Nice little truck. As a kid growing in the 90s I don’t remember spotting many of these but I guess it was a slow seller rather than an unreliable piece since the Omnirizons were everywhere and the 2.2 is a proven engine.

    PS. I’d like to see a B/D/B between the Rampage, Brat and Caddy

  • avatar
    Shipwright

    I sure miss Crab Spirit. He’d have one hell of a story for this heap.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Wow! That wheel is the perfect embodiment of utter desperation. Whatever the story was, whoever was driving did not want to stop. And being the rear-unpowered wheel, it must have been riding the rim for a LONG way. I hope never to be in a situation like that.

    One of my all time favorite Hot Wheels was a Real Riders Dodge Rampage. It was red with graphics and had a 3-wheeler atv in the bed. Mine was never riveted in the front so it came completely apart. I’ve since lost track of it (when my nephew inherited my collection I lost track of a lot of them) but I still remember playing with it a lot. They released a new version last year in a similar paint scheme – but lacking the metal base and rubber tires. I picked up a couple.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    THIS is the reason everyone was afraid to build a FWD “trucklet” for the USDM. until the Maverick

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I wish Ram would give us the fwd based Fiat Strada aka Ram 700 small pickup.
      The Fiat Fullback is a rebadged version of the mid sized Mitsubishi L200.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Ram recently has been talking about a compact truck. With Fiat’s offerings of small trucks it wouldn’t be hard for them to market a new Ram 50 or Dakota. They could steal a page out of Ford’s playbook and call it the Ram Dart but I doubt they will since the latest Dart was a failure. Could even call it the Ram Fargo to pay homage to Canada’s past Mopar pickups.

  • avatar

    I sold my ’84 Shelby Charger to a gentleman in Illinois who had a Rampage. If I remember correctly he intended to use my car for parts – or to make a Rampage/Shelby hybrid vehicle. Other than the air dam and ground effects a lot of the unibody was quite ‘rust impaired’ after 406k mi. which is why I got rid of it. The 2.2 was still running well – only using a qt of oil every 2k mi. which is when I changed the oil any way and got 35 mpg for me. The clutch had started to slip a bit somewhere in the mid 300k area although it still got me where I needed to go. (only slipped under ‘hard’ acceleration, leisurely acceleration showed no slippage.) Always wondered how his plans for my car came out.

    • 0 avatar
      71charger_fan

      I gave a set of Shelby Charger bucket seats to a guy in Delaware who was piecing together a Shelby Rampage. I have no idea if he ever finished it.

  • avatar
    mdoore

    I was always curious if the tail lamps were from the FoMoCo parts bin? Econoline Van, Maverick?

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