Cost of Early 90s Dakota

I found a low mileage (<190,000 miles) 93 V8 Dakota in solid condition. The seller is asking $3800 for a 6.5’ bed 2 seater.

I am wondering if since this is my first project in gas conversion if I should be looking for a cheaper truck (should this truck cost less? I’m not sure if it is overpriced or if if with the economy of available trucks if this is appropriate). I don’t want to make any rookie mistakes and kill a perfectly good truck. Can anyone weigh in with what a reasonable price for a 93 V8 dakota or the like should be? Kelly blue book says it should be around $1000, but I know the market for trucks can be quite hot. Thanks!


Hi good question i have been wondering this as well. Also could anyone wiegh in on the ram 1500s for wood gas converstion from the same time period?

Why are dakotas better lighter with bigger motor or other reasons?


You get a better fuel efficiency with the lighter body and bigger engine.

And there’s no replacement for displacement especially when it comes to woodgas.

My 86 Mazda B2000 Mini truck had a 2 Liter engine and my max speed was 55mph, and I had the acceleration of a VW Bug. I bet Wayne’s Dakotas have a very nice acceleration.

Personally if I had the money to spare and that was the only Dakota around, I would consider it.

My uncle has a 98 Ram with the 318 V8, I’m waiting for him to ask me to put a Gasifier in it :grin:


Power to weight ratio is a big part of it, equates to better milage per pound of wood but more then that is the overall profile if the truck and how much wind resistance it has while traveling. The dakotas are considered a midsize, so they carry there weight well while having ample power and torque but don’t fight the wind at speed as much as the ram trucks do. It’s a trade off of sorts, the more power a given platform has they better to woodgas and be ok with some loss,but it still needs to have the get up and go to pull through the wind without killing the milage.
Average cost of a V8 Dakota near me is 3500 for a 4wd, 2500-3000$ for a 2wd. The full size rams with 360 can be had in the same price range. If you are buying a truck to woodgas match it to your purpose. Will it be a commuter? Dakota. Will it be a work truck hauling trailers? Ram V10 preferable. Or use whatever you have just to learn on, that’s what I did. Now I have some understanding of the construction and operation I’m moving up to a V10 build. And it also comes to preferences, I live and die by my manual transmissions but what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone else


The price is high yes but if it is in mint condition maybe. If it is a black truck more positive to buy. Where has the truck spent it’s life driving? Near salt water coast or what we call the rust belt? Where they use salt on the roads in snowly winter months?


Thanks for your response, Robert! The truck has no rust to my knowledge. A southern truck that has steered clear of salt it seams. the hood has lost some of its paint over the years and they are selling it with the truck bed encapsulation. perhaps i can have that subtracted from the price. i would assume something like this would be less than 3000, but perhaps the price is set high to offer some bargaining room. thought i’d ask here first before i enter the arena of trying to get a better price for the vehicle. thanks, again!


Ask them to see the maintenance records for servicing on the truck. This is a good sign if they can provide them. There are a lot of people out there that flip vehicles. Looking for someone in need of money, buy the vehicle cheap and then sale it for a lot more money.


Good morning Taylor .

Back in 2004 I would go to auto auctions and car lots and spend a lot of time checking out and crawling under vehicles to find a good donor truck for gasifieing . I found the dakota to have plenty of working room in the motor compartment even with a v-8 motor. Also I found there were plenty of spaces under the truck bed and that if a gasifier was resting on the truck frame it could be lowered 11 inches below the bed of the truck . All other pickup trucks I looked at could only be lowered 4-5 inches . This 11 inches that the gasifer is dropped below the bed means the top of the gasifier can be near the height of the truck cab.

I don’t consider the dakota to be a real pickup truck . It is more like a car with a small light truck bed. Also very low to the grown and the 2 wheel drive vehicles would have no use around a farm .

The dakota seems to like speeds between 60-70 mph and will handle speeds up near 90 mph for short distances . If you really have the need for speed you can go to the hybrid mode and blend in some gasoline and the computer will make adjustments with the fuel air mix. The dakotas have a gear ratio of 2000 rpm at 65 mph which seem to work well.

The V-10 ram would not be my choice for hyway use but it is a real pickup and seems to make a great work truck . It also has the hybrid feature so you can drive as fast as you want. The gear ratio on my v-10 ram is 2000 rpm at 75 mph and is a little high for the wood gas . Another 96 v-10 I once build for a customer had a ratio of 2000 rpm at 65 mph and work very well.

The full size dodge 1500 has the same body and profile as the 2500 and seem to operate 50-60 mph and hybrid as fast as needed. On the 5.2L and 5.9L motors the dist is located at the back of the motor and is VERY difficult to get to on the 1500 full size trucks . However I was able to modifi the dist and maintain my Christian faith .

The V-10 has no dist . Only a coil pack and the timing can not be changed .

The dakotas and D1500 I have bought was near the $3000 mark . The V-10 I bought was $2700 eleven years back but I tipped the owner $100 bucks because the truck had a full tank of fuel.

The best I can calculate I have driven about a half million miles on wood.

Driving around these last few days knowing the high gasoline prices I find myself feeling guilty in some strange way .

Have Wood Will Travel


Several years ago, I bought a 1995 Dakota 5.2L V8. It is an extended cab short bed, much like Wayne’s. It is also black. It is the “Square” design. The advantage to the old boxy Dakotas is much more room in the engine compartment. Also, the newer ones require a rear shock to be moved per Wayne. That has been done by member @kev and his is a really nice conversion.
My Dakota was a bit rough when I bought it. I paid about $1300. I live in the rust belt, so that is an issue. It also needs a water pump, transmission work, and etc. It is sitting next to my driveway right now sinking into the Hoosier mud, and developing more problems no doubt. Turns out I am not the great shade-tree mechanic I thought I was.
Pity party aside, I have repaired a few issues with it (The mystery wire harness corrosion under the fuse box) and if one of the North’s lived nearby, I would pay them to fix it up a bit! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: My local mechanics are either really expensive, or worse than me…
I, like you bought it to “Try out this woodgas thing” and didn’t want to spend a lot. With what I know now, I would have looked for and bought a nicer, “Southern” truck.
The good thing is, I won’t mind taking hacksaw and grinder to this Dakota. It also has a cap that makes some junk storage out of the weather. I think if I took the cap off, It would goad me to go on to the next step and start building the project!! :rofl: :cowboy_hat_face:


Do you think a wood gas v8 dakota could haul a cubic yard of soil? I think that is probably the heaviest thing i may ever have to put in the bed.

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I think it could. I’ve pulled tractors and skid steers with mine. I use mine more like a work truck than Wayne does. I also tend to buy junk beaters for under $1000 and fix them up. The weakest part is the transmission. it is possible to over pull the automatc’s.


Good morning Kerem .

A cubic yard of soil should weigh about a ton and would be far more than I would ask of a dakota. I think a lot of folks that used them were for pulling a boat and trailer . Not a heavy load but enough power to go on down the road with it . The D1500 is considered to be a 1/2 ton truck and might haul the load depending on how far fast ect.


Good morning Wayne,

Which years and engines are best to convert to wood gas for D1500? Would the conversion be more involved then that of the Dakota? What sort of performance/top speed could one expect from it? Thanks!


The internet says the payload capacity is 1450 lbs, so I’m guessing the vehicle can handle the load. But would being on woodgas dramatically reduce the trucks ability to get up to speed. I guess I could always just dial back my expectations :slight_smile: more trips in exchange for free fuel and biochar seems like a fair compromise


Hello KerenS
Do not be deceived by listed payload capacity ratings.
WHERE the load is able to centered is critical on 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton pick-up trucks.
On my 1994 Ford F150 (a heavy duty half-ton) the combined axles loads rating legally allowes me 2200 pounds loading. First off subtract from that 2200 pounds, the dual factory fuel tanks loaded weights; and the driver and passenger; AND all other collected tools, tow straps and such.
But I have distance carried a true ton of bagged dry concrete mix on a pallet. The pallet had to be shoved al lof the way forward in the bed for the truck to ride level and safe.
I have distance carried 18 and 20 foot lengths of bandsaw milled boards and beams. Loaded out to a true 2200 pounds of carried weight. Off-grid I’d made up a 5 foot wide wooden sloped deck up and over the cab out of these boards first. Going over the cab by 6 feet, and extending sloped down 4 feet past the removed tail gate opening. Corners red flagged to be legal in my State. Lots of State highways and county roads driving with that one. Looked over plenty good but never pulled over because to looked balanced and safe.
Then I’ve a many times have loaded up with a full cord of seasoned doulas fir fire wood. 2200-2400 pounds. To get the axles to share balance that load, I used half sheets, 4’ X 4’ of thick plywood behind the cab and sides back to the bed wheel bumps. Wood stacked forward rounded topped humpt up 4-5 feet high. The front side 4’ half sheets wedging longwise cut 2 foot high side sheets set in place resting on the wheel humps clear out to the back. Loaded wood across row stacked. The rows heights sloped down to the rear.
Again legal and safe. " Unruh, you sure do load weird!" Nope. Clever.

Once you add on board a 500 to 800 pound gasifier system that’s gonna’ subtract from your safe max loading. As a practical matter most put the majority of the gasifier system space and weight forward in the bed. That making for a short rearward left available, rear of axle, loading space left.
You will not have enough space left for a cubic yard of anything unless it is cube sided boxed in.
And the weight of almost anything in a cubic yard way out there behind the rear axle will have you butt sagging and dragging. looks bad. Is unsafe bad. Ticket bait.

Half tons even HD’s versions use single row of roller bearings on the axle ends. With a machined surface on the actual axle shaft as the inner bearing race.
Heavy duty 3/4 tons and above use opposing rows of heavy duty tapered roller bearing with precision ground cone outer races. Bearings, bearing on the axle tube extension, The actual axle only transfers power twisting.

Gasifiy anything short of a 1 ton flat bed and you will have to be a dual axled trailer man WITH trailer brakes to haul 1 cubic yards of 2200-2400 pounds.

Steve Unruh


Hello Kerem.

As long as you stay with the magnum motor 318 or 360 I think you are good. Those years should be 1994 - 2001.

The modification is easy except for the ignition timing and that is a pain.

I would expect to cruise 50-60 mph and top speed to be 75-80 mph for short distance .


What happened to this truck Wayne with the over size firetube? How did it compare with the 12" firetube builds. Did it have 10 nozzles in the firetube? If I recall it was a experiment gasifer build that you were thinking on putting in a V-10 for hauling bigger loads.


Hello Mr. Bob .

I still have the truck , it is here in the yard and I am keeping it just in case the V-10 goes down . I have removed the gasifier while my son was using the truck for school and back. School was just too close too be firing up twice daily so he was driving there and back on gasoline . I had plans to give the truck to him but he bought bigger and badder truck a 2016 model Dodge Ram D2500.

I drove the 94 Ram to Argos one year and gave rides but I think is was the year before you started coming.

I don’t think I will be building any more gasifers for the trucks this big . The 55 gallon drums can be had for around 20 bucks compared to the over sized drums at 170 bucks each and the builder really needs 3 of them .


Nice vidio there wayne K , Well worth the knowlege, learning how fast them gasifiers are ready too go from start up too tires turning down the road,/ Thanks for all the excellent learning vidio’s. Makes me lemon thirsty,too get my old 99 v8 dakoto, road ready with my new gasifier from your book/ HAVE WOOD WILL TRAVEL / Nice working gasifier /and its all spelled out in the book .The way gas is going sky high we all wounder what next. I think this year i start a decent size gardon project. And my dakota cost a little over $450.00 Though i will need too plate the frame ware they rust out up here in rust belt, it ran so well i bought it anyway.And i may build a tube frame from the cab too the rear bumper.


Thanks, Mr. Keith! Just got your book and have not been able to put it down. Do you think the Dakota could cary say a half cubic yard of soil (1000lbs) ? Alternatively, I was wondering how much could weight could a wood gas Dakota pull on a trailer? I’d have to maintain speeds around 50 mph for 6 miles in both scenarios.