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…

A lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years, Patrick Rall is highly experienced in the automotive world. He has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now auto journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

“Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500,” says Rall. “He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car: a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16. Meanwhile, I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

“Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group,” adds Rall. “While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

“Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never ‘work’ a day in your life. I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

“My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

“Being based on Detroit, I never miss the North American International Auto Show, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Roadkill Nights, along with spending plenty of time raising hell on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue with the best muscle car crowd in the world.”

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