1997 Dodge Sidewinder: Viper-Powered Pickup That Never Was

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Dodge Sidewinder Viper Low Front Top Down

It had the look of the Dakota combined with Viper power, and made for an unforgettable SEMA Show concept.

The 1997 model year was a big one for Dodge, as they introduced the second generation of their popular mid-sized Dakota pickup. To showcase the basic look of the new Dakota, Mopar cooked up a high performance pickup concept for the 1997 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and they named it the Sidewinder.

The 1997 Dodge Sidewinder Concept never made it to production, but it became a legendary show vehicle, spending years in the now-closed Walter P. Chrysler Museum before being shown off at a small media event at the Dodge Brothers Meadow Brook Mansion back in 2014. It should be noted that the Sidewinder did live in thanks to the folks at Mattel, who produced a variety of 1:64 scale toys of the slick concept pickup, but beyond that, this Viper-powered pickup has remained the thing of go-fast truck-lovers’ dreams. The third installment in Dodge Forum’s “Concept Spotlight” series takes a closer look at this wicked concept pickup.

Dodge Sidewinder Viper Rear Corner Top Down

Viper Power

While the 1997 Dodge Sidewinder was clearly modeled after the second generation Dakota, intended to serve as a then-new iteration of the first generation Dakota convertible, it doesn’t share any parts with the popular mid-sized pickup. The exterior design was penned by Chrysler’s Mark Allen and the tube chassis was crafted by the American racing team Riley & Scott Cars with a completely custom body. Of course, the crosshair grille design from the Dakota is present and it has the basic facial design, but the lines of the Sidewinder are really nothing like the production Dakota.

Dodge Sidewinder Viper Front Square Top Down

Where the Sidewinder really differed from the Dakota is under the hood. The most powerful engine offered in the production truck was a 250-horsepower, 5.9-liter Magnum V8, but the Sidewinder is powered by the 8.0-liter, 488-cubic inch V10 from the Dodge Viper. In the concept truck, this engine delivers 640 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque, with the power being sent to the rear wheels via a high performance four-speed automatic transmission.

1997 Dodge Sidewinder: Viper-Powered Pickup That Never Was continued…

Longtime auto journalist Patrick Rall contributes to Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Rennlist, Club Lexus, F-150 Online, and YotaTech.

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