'80s Flashback: The Dodge Rampage & Plymouth Scamp Were Mopar's Answer to the El Camino
For many years from the late 1950s through the late 1970s, Chevrolet's El Camino and Ford's Ranchero battled it out in the car-based pickup truck market. But despite the popularity of these two vehicles Chrysler never saw fit to have its own car in this segment—until the early 1980s that was.
By that point the Ranchero was no more and the El Camino had moved to GM's smaller G-Body platform—and when Chrysler finally released its car-based pickup it went in even more unusual direction.
Rather than being based on a rear-drive body on frame platform like the El Camino, the Dodge Rampage and its twin the Plymouth Scamp were compact, front-drive unibody pickups based on Chrysler's L platform.
It was powered by a modest 2.2L four-cylinder engine mated to either a three-speed automatic or a four-speed manual, with a five-speed manual coming later. So while its fuel economy was impressive, the Rampage and Scamp were about as "light duty" was a pickup could get.
It was a pretty stylish little runabout though, and while it sadly never got the high performance turbocharged Shelby powertrain used in other L platform models, there were, however, a small number of Dodge Rampages sold that used the Shelby bodywork.
And of course given the shared platform, there was nothing stopping Rampage and Scamp owners from swapping turbo engines if they wanted to create an unusual compact pickup truck street sleeper.
Along with the El Camino the Rampage and Scamp were designed to compete with other small pickups like the Volkswagen Rabbit and Subaru Brat, but it never quite caught on.
The big reason was that those looking for a small, fuel efficient pickup would be more likely to choose a "real" mini truck from the booming segment that included Dodge's own Ram 50 pickup.
Production for these cars only lasted until 1984, making the Rampage and Scamp quite rare today and nearly forgotten part of the 1980s American auto market.
If you think this Dodge Rampage is unusual wait until you see the funky machine that carried the same name more than 20 years later.
Stay tuned for that shortly.