Once the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, front-wheel-drive econoboxes that began life as Chrysler Europe designs, proved to be strong sellers in North America, Lee Iacocca and his poker buddies decided that a pickup based on the Omnirizon platform would be a fine idea. The result was the Dodge Rampage and its Plymouth-badged sibling, the Scamp. I found one of those cartrucks in a Denver-area wrecking yard a while back.
Although the Plymouth Division had a history of selling trucks that goes way back (and continued through the Malaise Era), the Scamp (which took its name from a Valiant submodel of the previous decade) existed for just the 1983 model year and ended up being the very last Plymouth-badged new truck available here. The Rampage had a longer career as part of the more truckish Dodge brand, being built for the 1982 through 1984 model years.
I’ve managed to find nearly as many Scamps as Rampages during my junkyard travels, with two Scamps and two Rampages— including a super-rare Prospector— appearing before my camera prior to today (for some reason, all three of my junkyard Rampages have been ’83s). There was a California-only Shelby Rampage as well, but I’m not holding my breath about finding one of those in a car graveyard.
Ammeters were still fairly common in new vehicles in the early 1980s, a hangover from the weak generators and flaky batteries of earlier decades, so this truckcar got one even as its oil-pressure and coolant-temperature gauges became a penny-shaving two-fer-one idiot light. Whatever gauge or light would have gone on the opposite side of the speedo has a FRONT • WHEEL • DRIVE badge as a filler.
It’s in rough shape, with plenty of rust-through in the usual spots.
The engine would have been an 83-horsepower 2.2 straight-four just like the optional plant in the Omnirizon that year (Peugeot and VW engines were available in the cheaper early Omnirizons), but it’s long gone.
The interior is completely gutted as well, with none of the telltale leftover fasteners that suggest removal in the junkyard. I suspect that this was a parts truck for a Rampage enthusiast who discarded it once the good stuff was gone.
I doubt a Rampage enthusiast would have driven on flat rear tires for enough miles to nearly erase this one, though. Perhaps that was done by the second-to-last owner.
The wheel on the other side is even scarier. I’m guessing there was a lot of Everclear drinking and maybe glue-huffing involved in this Rampage’s final drive.
This cartruck had the base four-on-the-floor manual transmission, which remained available in new US-market cars all the way through 1996. The five-speed manual cost an extra 75 bucks (about $220 in 2022 dollars), while a three-speed automatic went for $439 ($1,290 now). That’s a lot to spend on a truck that listed at just $6,683 (around $19,646 today).
The front-wheel-drive pickup turned out to be something of an evolutionary dead end, with the pickup version of the Volkswagen Rabbit getting the ax here at the same time as the Rampage. Truly small pickups of any sort were mostly gone from the American market by the end of the decade, too.
Perhaps a longing for a more modern Rampage is what led some Denver-area Neon owner to build a backyard Neonpage.
Cash back, Prospector discounts, and 11.9% financing!
[Images courtesy of the author]
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