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The Dodge M-80

The Dodge M80 concept vehicle appeared at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. Designer John Opfer used as his role models the Jeep Wagoneer, (Mitsubishi-based) Dodge Raider, The world got to see the future of compact pickup trucks at the 2002 North American International Auto Show as the bold, versatile and affordable Dodge M80 concept took the stage in Detroit. With its 'just-right' size, 'surf-to-snow' capability and authentic 'job-rated' Dodge Truck power, the M80 exceeded the needs of the compact pick-up truck customer.

The Dodge M80 was a small, affordable truck with minimalist design details such as the satin-stainless steel-look Dodge-crosshair grille and headlamp surrounds, classic round lamps and the metallic slate-gray, molded-in-color PET-plastic fenders and bumpers with integrated tow-hooks.

In profile, M80 offered simple, chiseled lines enhanced by the fender vent vanes, push-button door handles, integrated PET-plastic side-storage lockers, dual spin-off fuel-filler caps in satin-stainless steel-look and stamped-steel 20" wheels and 265/50R20 Goodyear tires. The useful five-foot bed was protected by a durable PET-plastic liner and bulkhead and incorporated myriad tie-down cleats compatible with MOPAR bike-, ski- and surfboard racks. The tailgate featured 'stamped-through' lettering for the Dodge and 4x4 emblems. Oversized, performance-tuned dual exhaust pipes and jewel-like round tail lamps completed the exterior highlights.

The back of the cab featured a full-width flipper-glass. Adds Opfer: "It not only has a clean, modern design, but it is truly functional. You can easily get to your gear in the back, and if the bed is not long enough, you can open the flipper-glass and add the cabin to your load-length."

Dodge M-80's interior was designed by Jeff Gale, who expanded upon John Opfer's mission of finding practical solutions for difficult design dilemmas. "This concept asked for a no-frills, rugged and durable interior," said Gale. "And, it should offer unexpected and youthful features."

Gale said that was why there was an abundance of Detonator Yellow body-color sheet-metal panels on the inside of M80, enhanced by satin-silver hard-plastic covers and water-repelling Neoprene-look seat-trim. The center console doubled as a portable cooler while the lightweight seats can be removed and used outdoors. Behind the fold-flat seats was a vehicle-wide bin for wet-goods such as shoes, umbrella or a snowboard. The instrument panel featured a large storage drawer.

The driver was kept informed by simple, easily understood, back-lit satellite gauges, offering just basic information. The speedometer and tachometer were co-axial, using one set of numbers for speed and revs (x100). Large rotary knobs operated the audio and heating systems, while classic 'ball-and-socket'-style vents directed the airflow in the interior. M80's performance image was accentuated by billet-aluminum foot pedals.

Based on a Dodge Dakota frame with independent short-and-long-arm front suspension and a solid axle with leaf springs in the rear, M80 incorporated a high percentage of existing corporate components, making it affordable to build. Power came from Chrysler Group's new, 210 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 engine (more powerful than recent V8s) coupled to a carry-over 5-speed manual transmission and 4x4 transfer case.

With an estimated vehicle weight of just 2,500 pounds (1134 kg) and a power rating of a 210 bhp. (157 KW) and 235 lb.-ft. (319 Nm) of torque, this concept truck's calculated performance figures included a top speed of 100 mph. (160 km/h) and a sprint to 60 mph. (96 km/h) in 8 seconds flat. "All these features and its functionality are what we expect millennial kids to be looking for," added McKinnon. "This truck is something totally new out of Detroit. M80 offers style, utility, performance and economy."

A version of the Dodge M80 may well be produced, after all. While it would be very expensive to design a new platform for it, and the Dakota and Durango were far too large to adapt, it could be built using a modified version of a Mitsubishi or the next-generation Neon/Lancer.

Estimated Torque: 235 lb.-ft. (319 Nm)
Drive: Four-wheel drive with low and high ranges
Structure: Steel body-on-frame


Front: Independent with upper and lower 'A'-arms, torsion bars, gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Rear: Live axle with four-leaf two-stage longitudinal springs and gas-charged shock absorbers

Length: 166.5 in. (4229 mm)
Width: 64.2 in. (1631 mm)
Height: 66.4 in. (1687 mm)
Wheelbase: 112 in. (2845 mm)
Track (Front/Rear): 60.5 in. (1537 mm)
Ground Clearance: 9.7 in. (246 mm)
Bed Length: 5' (1.5 m)
Est. Weight: 2500 lbs. (1134 kg)
0-60 mph. (0-96 km/h): 8 sec.
Top Speed: 100 mph. (160 km/h)

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