Odd Rides: 1997 Dodge Sidewinder

In the automotive world, some concepts are destined to be forgotten, while others etch themselves into the annals of history. The Dodge Sidewinder Concept is undeniably one of the latter—a high-performance pickup that blended the iconic look of the Dakota with the raw power of the Viper. Unveiled at the 1997 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Sidewinder was a glimpse into the daring creativity that Mopar was capable of.


A Fusion of Dakota and Viper:

The year 1997 marked a pivotal moment for Dodge with the introduction of the second generation of their beloved mid-sized Dakota pickup. To showcase the essence of the new Dakota, Mopar conceptualized the Sidewinder—a beast of a truck that seamlessly combined the familiar Dakota design with the unbridled power of the Viper.


Exclusivity at SEMA:

The 1997 Dodge Sidewinder Concept never made it to production, but its impact was far from fleeting. The truck became a legend in the realm of show vehicles, captivating audiences at the SEMA Show with its striking design and powerful presence. Although it didn't find its way onto the streets, the Sidewinder left an indelible mark on the automotive community.


From Museum to Media Event:

After its time on the show circuit, the Sidewinder found a home in the now-closed Walter P. Chrysler Museum. It became a piece of automotive history, basking in the glory of its heyday. However, the story didn't end there. In 2014, the Sidewinder emerged from its museum haven for a small media event at the Dodge Brothers Meadow Brook Mansion, reigniting the passion of enthusiasts who had long admired this one-of-a-kind creation.


The Mattel Connection:

While the Sidewinder never roared down the highways, it found a second life thanks to Mattel. The renowned toy manufacturer produced a range of 1:64 scale toys immortalizing the sleek concept pickup. For fans and collectors alike, these miniature replicas became a tangible connection to the unfulfilled promise of a Viper-powered production pickup.


Under the Hood:

At the heart of the Sidewinder's allure was its Viper power. Although modeled after the second generation Dakota, the Sidewinder shared no parts with its production counterpart. Crafted by Chrysler's Mark Allen, the exterior design was a work of art, while the tube chassis, custom body, and the unmistakable crosshair grille design paid homage to the Dakota.


The Dodge Sidewinder Concept remains a testament to the boundless creativity within the automotive industry. Despite never gracing the production line, it continues to captivate the imaginations of go-fast truck enthusiasts. The fusion of Dakota aesthetics with Viper power created a masterpiece that lives on through toy replicas and the memories of those fortunate enough to witness its glory at the SEMA Show. The Sidewinder may not have roamed the streets, but its legend roars on in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts as a symbol of what could have been—an extraordinary odd ride that left an indelible mark on the history of concept vehicles.

January 15, 2024
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