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Dodge's M80 concept was a retro small truck with big personality

This concept debuted in 2002. Nearly 20 years later, we still think it could've been a hit.

Chris Paukert
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
Dodge M80 concept truck
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The Dodge M80 concept debuted when retro-future styling was all the rage.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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This compact pickup, which drew on stylistic hallmarks of the 1930s and 1940s, rumbled onto stage at the Detroit Auto Show in 2002.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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The early 2000s were a particularly fertile time for DCX-family concepts, and the M80 remains one of the company's very best efforts.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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Based on the chassis and mechanicals of the traditional Dakota midsize truck, there were rumors the M80 could actually foreshadow that model's replacement.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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Instead of pie-in-the-sky show-car tech, the M80 was eminently buildable and surprisingly light.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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The rear window flipped open, providing access to the truck's bed.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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Its 210-hp V6 was powerful enough that Dodge estimated a 0-to-60-mph time of around 8 seconds.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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Sadly, the brilliant little M80 was likely undone by fears of the industry's then-moribund small truck sales.

Dodge M80 concept truck
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The M80 also had a robust interior that combined a simple feature set with attractive aesthetics.

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