The first of Carroll's 1989 projects raised an eyebrow, for this vehicle was obviously different from all other Dodge-based Shelbys: the Shelby Dakota marked Carroll's return to rear-wheel drive. It was based on the two-wheel drive shortbed Dakota Sport, but Shelby made some key changes.
The most talked-about change occured underhood. Out went the 125 hp 3.9 liter V6 (the top Dakota powerplant at the time) and in went the factory throttle-body injected 5.2 liter V8. Due to space limitations, there was no belt-driven engine fan; instead twin electric fans were mounted in front of the radiator. The engine otherwise is completely stock; that sole change added 5 extra horsepower and thus brought the total to 175 @ 4000 rpm; torque measured 270 lb-ft @ 2000. Redline was set at 4750 rpm. Carroll saw to it that a SHELBY V8 decal was affixed to the aircleaner housing, also.
The sole transmission backing this motor was a four speed automatic with locking torque converter. Final drive ratio was 3.91:1, and a SureGrip (limited slip diff) was installed. This hardware allowed for 0-60 runs in 8.7 seconds; the standing quarter mile was covered in 16.5 seconds at 82mph. Top speed was drag-limited to 113. These numbers may seem unimpressive compared to Shelby's turbocharged front-drivers but we must see them for what they are: we're talking about a truck here. At the time, no other pickup could match it.
Underneath, the heavy-duty suspension was carried over directly from the V6 Dakota Sport. Each wheelwell featured a Shelby five-spoke aluminum wheel wrapped in a Goodyear Eagle GT+4 size 225/70HR-15.
On the outside, only two colors were available: bright red or white. A deep airdam with integrated driving lights was installed; it, the bumper, and the grill were all painted black (as were the rear bumper and all trim pieces). A fiberglass light bar was placed behind the cab; it was painted to match the truck. There were decals along the sides which featured the Shelby name; a 'V8' decal appeared on each fender next to the turn signal, and a 'Shelby' decal was applied to the top of the windshield. The grill had a chrome SHELBY badge.
The interiors of all Shelby Dakotas - red or white - were identical. For starters, there was a Shelby leather-wrapped steering wheel. The dash was red and featured two Shelby plaques. The instrument cluster was full of guages and a four-speaker AM/FM cassette stereo was installed. A standard flat bench seat was used; it was red and had grey cloth insets with the name Shelby printed over and over. This cloth was also used in an insert in each door as well.
As with all the true Shelby vehicles, this was a one-year production. 1500 were built; the split was roughly 900-600 red-white. List price was $15,813 plus freight.