What do you get when you combine Dodge Viper GTS-R’s monstrous 600-plus horsepower engine with a Trans Am-based chassis and design cues from great pickup trucks of yesterday and today? The answer, the 1997 Dodge Dakota Sidewinder concept truck, was unveiled early this afternoon by Robert A. Lutz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Chrysler Corporation, at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas.
If a truck enthusiast were to take the front end of a 1997 Dodge Dakota to a garage and build the rest from the ground up, the result might look like our Dakota Sidewinder, said Lutz. Dakota Sidewinder takes trucks to the extreme. We built this for the street truck nuts.
Dakota Sidewinder’s most notable form is its bucket-shaped cab, a shape common to trucks of the 1920s, particularly Ford’s T-bucket roadsters. From the side, this distinctive curved shape gives the vehicle a ‘muscular jaw look’, said Trevor Creed, Chrysler’s Director of Advanced Exteriors.
Cleaned and refined in the tradition of the All-American hot rod, Dakota Sidewinder discards several design elements in favor of showing off its muscular curves. It’s a pure truck design that flows, said Creed. In order to achieve this flowing design, we left all unnecessary visual elements — including door handles, bumpers and trim pieces — at the curb.
Dakota Sidewinder’s interior is a seamless continuation of the exterior and features a painted metal instrument panel, machined aluminum controls, and purple leather seats. To start the engine, the driver must first flip a switch labeled Arm which activates the fuel pump and then press a switch labeled Ignite to start the vehicle. With the interior, we re-defined the task of starting a vehicle and created the sense that something special is about to happen, said Creed. With 600-plus horsepower and only 2,700 pounds of curb weight, drivers will want to think twice before launching this thing.