Build and Shipping dates

The production of Dakotas at the Warren MI plant destined for the Shelby plant in Whittier CA started late in the model year, around Nov 1988

Chrysler shipped 5 trucks (#48,#49,#50,#51,#53) in Nov 88 to Shelby, three of which (#48,#49,#50) were designated for the Public Relations department and #51 to the Shelby containment area.

The fourth truck (#53 White) became the first truck built at Warren and shipped from Shelby to a dealer, Great North Dodge, North Olmsted OH.

Several other trucks, built later by Chrysler in Dec 88, were shipped to dealers on the same date as #53, Feb, 17 1989, the list includes #54, #55,#56,#57,#58,#70,#71,#73,#76 and 5 more all being shipped to McGee Dodge in Midfield AL, #84,#85,#86#87 and #88 all of which were Red.

This made a total of 16 trucks on the first day of shipping, 7 White and 9 Red

Interestingly Shelby Dakota truck #1 was not shipped from the Warren Plant until May 1989

The theory many subscribe to, the lowest last 6 of the VIN were the first made trucks, is incorrect based on this build and shipping data.

Shelby truck #1 VIN ends in 176109, #2 ends in 110645, #53 ends in 069908 and #1500 ends in 175108 making Shelby #1 the highest VIN of the trucks mentioned.

In addition, breaking another common belief about the engine numbers being sequential by build date.

The Shelby Engine numbers are tied directly the Shelby truck number, which puts engine number 1936 as the first shipped on Shelby Truck #53.

Several Shelby Dakotas were shipped from the Shelby plant in 1990, yet they were still 1989 model year trucks.

The final 5 trucks shipped from Shelby Automobiles were all sent to the Chrysler Zone Office in Phoenix AZ, on March 20, 1990.

These were trucks #31, #726, #810, #873 and  #1393 three white trucks and two red.

Shelby Dakota Truck Safety Recall

Following an Auto-Check report on our new Shelby Dakota, not only did we get to see important vehicle details about history and ownership, we also noted an "incomplete" Safety Recall from 1996/2001.

Recall #988 - Chrysler determined the steering gear on the 1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby may separate from the cross-member and cause loss of steering control. Chrysler will repair your truck free of charge parts and labor.

To Determine if your vehicle has had the recall work completed or not, visit the Chrysler Recall Check page.

Submit your VIN and find out if you've had the service performed or not on your Shelby Dakota.

If you vehicle shows the recall as "incomplete", simply contact your local Dodge dealer to schedule a service appointment.

We took our truck to our local dealer, they confirmed the recall was incomplete and ordered the necessary parts to perform the work.

The recall also states if you have experienced a problem and had the repairs completed at another facility other than a Chrysler dealer, you may send your original receipts and proof of payment for reimbursement.

Interesting Stats 75% : Of the first four VINs checked from this website, three Shelby Dakotas indicated the recall was "incomplete"

Here is a PDF with more details from Chrysler

A comment from Mike Tuhey on Facebok, Jan 2019. Git 'er done! The rack and pinion reinforcement repair only has a few campaign parts left since the recall began in 1996, and was reissued in 2001. The seatbelt recall is all over, no parts remaining. That's now a customer pay repair.

Is Your Truck A Classic?

The Word 'Classic' Gets Misused A Lot

According to the CCCA, only certain models of vehicles built during 1915 through 1948 are recognized as Classics today.

classic car

For the most part classic cars were typically expensive to begin with and produced in limited quantities.

This makes it unlikely the Shelby Dakota can currently be considered a Classic.

Vintage Collectible

While not a Classic yet, the Shelby Dakota has become a Vintage Collectible, valued and sought by collectors and admirers.

Until lately the Shelby Dakota might have fallen into a class called late-model production.

With the arrival of 2019, the Shelby Dakota reached the 30 year old mark and can now be considered and registered as a historic or vintage vehicle in many regions.

This move from late-model to vintage also elevates the Shelby Dakota's reputation as a collector vehicle.


Following in the footsteps of it's Milestone relatives, the 68-70 Dodge Charger R/T and Daytona, the Shelby Dakota had a significant influence on the market at the time it was introduced.

The Shelby Dakota came with a hot engine, it performed well, and it looked pretty good, thanks largely to the addition of the Shelby trademark tweaks.

With less than 1500 built, the Shelby Dakota was a limited production model and more expensive than typical Dakotas of the same period.

The Shelby Dakota should qualify as a Milestone Vehicle in time due to the impact it made as the first performance pickup truck.

Original, Restored or Modified

good red truck photo

No matter how you refer to your Shelby Dakota, you most likely fall into one of the following types of owners.

The Maintainer - you feel the your trucks appeal lies in its originality, a few minor dings and dents and maybe some wear and tear on the interior is acceptable. Mechanical condition is less than perfect, but it is dependable and probably driven in the rain on occasion.

The Restorer - owners with the resources to do full scale restoration which could take several months or years. With the objective to keep or return the vehicle close to showroom condition, have it covered and trailered to classic shows and gets more trophies than drives.

The Modifier - restoration is not your main thing, you plan to make a statement with a hot rod or drag race updates. History is important but not without lots of improved performance and safety.

Perhaps the best thing about vintage or classic cars, there is room for everyone, original, restored or modified, and owners respect each others choice.


Shelby Dakota Transmission

A500 4 Speed Automatic

The Chrysler A500 4 Speed Automatic is based on the older 3 speed A904 automatic transmission.

It was Chrysler’s first shot at a light duty 4-speed automatic.

They basically took an A904 and bolted an overdrive unit to the back of it.

Chrysler released the transmission in 1989 (Shelby Dakota) and it was initially only used behind the small 318 cubic inch V8 (5.2L) engine and V6 engine in a limited number of vans and trucks.

The transmission was eventually used in Dodge Ram pickups, Dakotas, Dodge Vans and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The transmission incorporates a 2.74 first gear and a 0.69 final overdrive ratio, which makes it ideal for high performance applications.

Because the A500 is based on the A904, many of the tricks that work on the A904 also work on the A500.

There are a large number of performance related accessories available for the A500. Here is a short list of some of the parts that are available

  1. Higher than stock stall converters. They are available in many different stall speeds, from a basic unit designed for towing up to a 3000 rpm stall and beyond. Some manufactures can build you a custom unit at almost any stall speed you desire.
  2. Kevlar high performance bands. Keep in mind that they make one for a 6 cylinder car and a different one for those designed to go behind a V8.
  3. Shift improver kits. Most are adjustable with a street mode, street/strip mode and a towing mode. The kits are easy to install and really change the characteristics of the transmission.
  4. Trans Brakes (reverse valve body). Yes, you read that correctly. Trans brakes! Trans brakes are really only for all out drag racing, although you do occasionally find someone that use them on a dual purpose street/strip vehicles.
  5. Racing clutches. A large variety of different racing clutches are available. Some are more aggressive than others and some are intended for racing applications only
  6. Extra capacity aluminum pans. These aluminum pans add extra capacity by being deeper than stock. The extra fluid helps the transmission run cooler. The properties of aluminum also help the pan transfer more heat away from the transmission, and the aluminum pans also help strengthen the case.
  7. High performance lower sprag. A must for cars running slicks.
  8. Adapters. A variety of adapters are available to install the transmission behind big block Chrysler engines, early model Hemi motors and even the legendary 426 Hemi! You heard me. The 426 Hemi!
    There are a ton of performance parts available for the A500.

Identifying the A500 Transmission

A500 trans

1988-1994 A500 (904 Over Drive) Lock-Up has wires at left rear corner, pointing up. 21-1/2″ extension housing, raised ribbed area running along left side, square oil pan with one corner cut.

An excerpt from Reman Blog Dec 2012

Shelby Dakota Unique Parts

While both the Exotic Red Trucks and the Bright White Trucks were the same in so many ways beside the obvious paint color, a couple of different parts were used on the exterior trim to highlight the graphics and colors.

Shelby Windshield Decal

  • Shelby Windshield Decal (White) (part number 4467897) for the White Truck
  • Shelby Windshield Decal (Red) (part number 4467872) for the Red Truck

Front Grille Nameplate

  • Front Grille Nameplate Shelby White (part number 4504431) for the White Truck (white lettering)
  • Front Grille Nameplate Shelby Red (part number 4504432) for the Red Truck (silver lettering)

Shelby Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel

Another item which can differ between the trucks, but not tied to color, is the steering wheel.

The story goes, Shelby Automobiles had a number (exact unknown) of three-spoke ½ leather sport steering wheel with Shelby’s signature left over from the 88 CSX product line.

csx 89 003

Shelby made the decision to use these stock wheels in the Shelby Dakota, until inventory was exhausted.

Then switch to the full leather sport steering wheel shared by both the 89 CSX and 89 Shelby Dakota.

csx 89 002










There was only one part number in Chrysler parts catalogues, the full leather steering wheel part number 4504487 used for both CSX and Shelby Dakota.

Below you can see several photos of various trucks with both the full leather and ½ leather wheels, these shipped from Shelby Automobiles on a wide range of dates and have a variety of Shelby Numbers.

Based on the sequencing we might conclude trucks between the low 400 and the high 700 Shelby numbers may have the ½ leather wheel and others the full leather wheel.

More knowledgeable owners may be able to provide more information on the steering wheel applications.

Low number now spotted at 289, high number now 822, or about 533 half leather wheels used. It is possible the lower or higher numbers have had wheels exchanged.

  • SD #0038
    SD #0038
  • SD #0289
    SD #0289
  • SD #0460
    SD #0460
  • SD #0545
    SD #0545
  • SD #0618
    SD #0618
  • SD #0677
    SD #0677
  • SD #0822
    SD #0822
  • SD #0894
    SD #0894

Shelby Dakota Authenticity

How to verify the Engine Number and Shelby number of your truck.

To verify you have a real Shelby Dakota matching dash and engine, you can subtract the Shelby Plaque number from 1989, for instance Shelby number one is engine 1988, Shelby #1318 is engine 671 etc.

shelby 0001 engine dash numbers

Another way to verify the truck is an authentic Shelby is by the VIN.

Q: How can you tell if a Dakota is an authentic Shelby version

A: You can identify a Shelby Dakota by the 8th digit of the VIN.

It denotes the truck as a Shelby because of the digit being the letter 'Y' which decodes as a 5.2 V8 engine.

The Shelby Dakota was the only Dakota to have a 'Y' digit in its VIN as it was the only Dakota with a V8 engine in 1989.