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2000 Dodge Dakota RT packs Scat Pack Power

by Patrick Rall on

This past weekend, I stopped by the Michigan Mopar Muscle car show being held in Milford, Michigan with my Hellcat Challenger. It was miserably hot and humid, but the turnout was solid, with a great mix of classic and modern Mopar performance machines. There were plenty of traditional muscle cars in attendance, but it was a 2000 Dodge Dakota R/T that caught my eye.

Rohe Dakota

Sitting with a group of modern Dodge Challengers and Chargers, the Amber Fire pickup had exhaust tips sticking out from under the front end, ahead of the front tires. That is fairly unusual, so I wandered over to see what this second gen Dakota had going on under the hood, expecting to see a 5.9-liter Magnum with a turbo setup, but it is actually far more interesting than that.

Modern Hemi Power

This Dakota is owned, driven and built by Rob Rohe and it is is powered by a 392-cubic inch Hemi, similar to the stock powerplant in the modern Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack.

Rohe Dakota

In stock from, this engine delivers 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, but this engine is not stock. Rohe has added a set of stronger rods and pistons from Modern Muscle Xtreme, and homemade cold air intake setup and a set of headers that are intended to be used for an LS1 turbo setup, but with some “massaging” to the flanges, these big headers fit the Hemi perfectly. A Mopar 392 Hemi crate wiring kit with an HPTuners MVP12, tuned by FRP makes the engine run in the sporty pickup with help from an LS swap fuel system package with a 255 Walbro pump.

Rohe Dakota

Right now, there are no turbochargers attached to those LS1 headers, but Rohe plans to add boost in the future and with this exhaust setup, much of the work has already been done. For the time being, his Hemi simply exhausts in front of the front wheels, creating a sweet exhaust note with the Dynomax race bullet mufflers.

Rohe Dakota

The power from that worked Hemi is sent to the rear wheels by means of a 46RE automatic transmission that has been built by Cope Racing. It has a full manual valve body, a transbrake and a 10-inch, 3,400-rpm convertor with an ATI SFI flex plate, while a Driveshaft Shop 4-inch driveshaft and a 9.25-inch Detroit Locker rear differential with Yukon 4.56 gears complete the path of the power to the ground.

Rohe Dakota

Finally, Rohe upgraded the suspension, chassis and braking system to handle the added power. The front brakes are from a 2003 Dakota, as are the spindles. The tubular upper control arms are from Airbagit and the lower control arms are from Western Chassis, as are the front leaf and the shackle hangers, while the adjustable shocks are from QA1 and a set of Caltrac traction bars finish off the suspension upgrades.

Subtle Exterior Upgrades

On the outside, Rob Rohe has added a fairly long list of aftermarket upgrades that give the truck a sporty look without departing too much from the basic design of the second gen Dakota R/T. Up front, this includes DEPO one-piece headlights with Morimoto LED bulbs and the factory fog light housing have matching bulbs. Next, he added a Street Scene bumper cover and grill inserts, along with an AAR cowl induction hood.

Rohe Dakota

Along the sides, Rohe has added Street Scene power mirrors, billet aluminum fuel door and 20-inch R/T replica wheels wrapped in Cooper Zeon RS3 tires for the street – with Real Racing Pro-6 wheels for the track, sporting drag skinnies up front and Hoosier Quick Time Pro drag radials out back.

Rohe Dakota

The exterior is finished off with a Checkmate tonneau cover, a Cervini rear spoiler, a Street Scene roll pan and DEPO tinted taillights.

Rohe Dakota

For those wondering, the Amber Fire paint is original and it still looks great.

Race Ready Interior

While the exterior has been modified to preserve the basic factory look, the interior is like a whole different vehicle.

Rohe Dakota

Rohe has replaced the factory seats with a set of Braum race buckets, adding a MOMO steering wheel with an NGK quick release hub and a Motion Raceworks Transbrake button setup, an Autometer shift light and tachometer, Speedhut gauges, a custom switch panel, a B&M Stealth Pro shifter on a custom mount and a Shifnoid shifter solenoid.

Rohe Dakota

When you put all of these modifications together, you have a 2000 Dodge Dakota R/T that is 1 of 46 made in this color that is currently running in the low-12s, with a best time to date of 11.99 at 115 miles per hour.

Rohe Dakota

When you tie in the street roar from the front-exit exhaust system, the slick interior and the tastefully upgraded exterior, there is no question why the second generation Dakota R/T is still regarded as one of the best sport trucks that the American market has ever seen. As Rohe’s truck shows, the truck’s basic design still looks great almost 20 years later and with some modern upgrades, this mid-sized pickup will run with today’s muscle cars.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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