I have done this swap. I have a 1993 Dodge Dakota V8 5.2 2wd. I already swapped in a 5.9 Magnum.
I bought a 94 dakota extended cab short bed v8 just like mine. It was a roll over so the cab and bed trashed, but the frame perfect. I swapped frames.
I keeped my cab, front fenders and hood, bed, rear axle and springs, engine computer and all wiring harnesses, wheels. I used the 4wd front susp. the 4wd tranny and trasfercase and drive shafts. Depending on what you find you can keep the 4wd engine and could use the 4wd rear end but I put lower gears in the 2wd axle and I used a Ram 2500 leaf springs, so I kept it. A note is that 2wd has the springs mounted under the axle, while 4wd has them mounted over the axle. I had to do a SOA Spring Over Axle swap later on since I kept my 2wd axle. So to make it easier keep the 4wd axle. Make sure you keep all the engine mounts and transmission to front axle braces from the 4wd. The only things I had issues with was the parking brake cable is located differently. I got a new longer cable installed that took care of it from the 4wd. Of course you have to cut a hole in the floor for the 4wd shifter use the 4wd cab to make a template.
With OBD1 computers there is no input for the 4wd, so your stalk 2wd computer will be fine. For 93-down the speedo is cable driven, 94-up is electronic. I needed to get a 4wd speedo cable its longer and had to extend the speed sensor wires. The 93 speedo sensor was used. The steering column will work and for the intermediate shaft use the 4wd it has more play in it. Is best to use the steering column from the 4wd due to the spines are longer. The 93-down use a return fuel system with external fuel pressure regulator and filer, while 94-up had returnless and internal regulator and filter. I kept my 93 tank lines ect. 92-93 V8 has larger exhaust manifolds and 3in exhaust. I had headers and kept them as well as my 93 exhaust. I had to tweak the bed mounting holes, just open them up a bit so the bed would line up with the body. I'm not to sure if that was the only thing that the roll over affected.
The worst part of having a 4wd Dakota is the starter location. I bought a Mopar high torque starter. They are smaller and easier to get to if you ever need to get it out. The bed is easy to remove just need a couple of guys to lift. The way I separated the cab from the frame was I used high lift jacks and large piece of wood. When I lifted it enough I put milk crates under the wood, I should of used metal ones. We removed the rear axle, then just slide the frame out from under the body and slide the new one under. It took me 4 days, 2 full days and 2 evenings. I did have a couple of friends to help. I did it in my cousins house which has 3 acres so i had all the space I needed. If you need more info let me know. It was worth it. I love my truck I would not sell it for anything. By the way I take it hard core offroading and even tho it has IFS I never had any problems. I have pulled out soo many stuck trucks with it. I have put in a locker in the rear. So there great trucks. Look at the pics below!
Thanks for this great post. I have a 90 convertible 3.9L 4x4 and a 93 that had a 5.2L dropped into it which is 2wd. I want to swap the cab, bed, and front clip. That way I would have a bigger engine in the convertible and a 4x4 to drive in the winter. I never drive the convertible in the snow as the salt would eat it up. So, do you think that this will work? Everything looks like it would match up.
I like the black one. I say keep the black/4wd hood and grill and radiator support. Then paint the truck black to match. I personally don't like the old grill and lights. The grill guard will look good on it too.
If you know someone who does photoshop good, have them do all the mods so you can get a look on it. There is a section for it on here, but I think it is slow.
I have a 87 Dakota 2wd 6cyl and I was wondering if there was an easier way to do this with out switching the body onto a different frame and all that. I didn't know If I could lift the suspension, change the axel, find a dakota with a transfer case and drive shaft that would fit and toss that in, then run a lever into the cab to engage the 4 wheel drive. I know i probably made it sound a lot simpler than it is, but if anyone knows a simpler way than just switching cabs onto a 4wd truck let me know! thanks!