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The Dodge M80 concept truck debuted at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. Designer John Opfer said that his role models were the Jeep Wagoneer and the (Mitsubishi-based) Dodge Raider compact pickup. “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.” [In this regard it was similar to the Chevrolet Avalanche’s midgate setup.]
The Dodge M80 was a small, affordable truck with a satin-stainless-steel-look Dodge crosshair grille and headlamp surrounds, classic round lamps, and metallic slate-gray, molded-in-color plastic fenders. In profile, M80 was festooned with fender vent vanes, push-button door handles, integrated plastic side-storage lockers, dual spin-off fuel-filler caps, and stamped-steel 20” wheels with 265/50R20 tires.
The five-foot bed was protected by a durable PET-plastic liner and bulkhead, using myriad tie-down cleats compatible with Mopar bike-, ski- and surfboard racks. The tailgate had “stamped-through” lettering for the Dodge and 4x4 emblems. The back of the cab had a full-width flipper-glass.
The Dodge M-80’s interior was designed by Jeff Gale, who said, “This concept asked for a no-frills, rugged and durable interior, and it should offer unexpected and youthful features.” That was, Mr. Gale said, why there was an abundance of body-color sheet-metal panels on the inside of M80, with satin-silver hard-plastic covers, aluminum foot pedals, and water-repelling Neoprene-look seat-trim. The center console doubled as a portable cooler, while the lightweight seats could be removed and used outdoors. Behind the fold-flat seats was a truck-wide bin for wet goods such as shoes, umbrellas, or a snowboard. The instrument panel included a large storage drawer.
Back-lit satellite gauges provided basic information, with a co-axial speedometer and tachometer that shared one set of numbers for speed and revs (x100). Large rotary knobs operated the audio and heating systems, while classic, efficient “ball-and-socket” vents directed the airflow.
Based on a steel Dodge Dakota frame, and using an independent short-and-long-arm front suspension and a solid axle with leaf springs in the rear, M80 used many existing components. Power came from Chrysler’s then-new, 210 horsepower, 235 lb-ft 3.7-liter V-6 engine with a carry-over 5-speed manual transmission and 4x4 transfer case (with low and high ranges). The M80 was relatively light at 2,500 pounds, close to the Neon’s weight; Dodge calculated that it could do 0-60 in eight seconds flat, with a top speed of 100 mph.
Front suspension: Front: Independent with upper and lower A-arms, torsion bars, gas-charged shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: 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)
Dodge Dakota • 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 • Dodge and Ram trucks • Concept cars
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