Trevor Creed, Senior VP for Chrysler Design, introduces the Dodge M80 concept at Cobo Hall.

Son of Power Wagon - Dodge M80 Concept
By: Michael LevinePosted: 01-07-02 15:00

Dodge's concept cars for the 2002 North American International Auto Show are geared towards 'millenials' - the next generation of car and truck buyers that will be entering the automotive marketplace. One of four concepts shown, the Dodge M80 is definitely the most explosive and, rumored to be, closest to production.

The Dodge M80 began its life as a simple sketch on the kitchen table of exterior designer John Opfer. Opfer was trying to create a, "hot pickup truck for himself, a friend and some gear."

Opfer began to look to Dodge's rich past of capable trucks, particularly the Power Wagon, to bring character and heritage to the M80. In fact, Opfer informed PUTC that some of his research, exterior design cues from the Power Wagon VC and WC models, came from his browsing of PickupTruck.com's Dodge history section.

Overall, Opfer calls the Detonator Yellow exterior, "basic and practical." "You can throw bikes in the back and stow your dirty gear in the side storage compartments" located just behind the driver and passenger doors.

The interior of the M80 carries on the no-frills, rugged theme.

Opfer's partner on the design of the M80, Jeff Gale, son of famed former Chrysler executive Tom Gale, penned the M80's interior. Gale concentrated on designing a "simple and rugged space made of durable materials."

The driver and passenger seats are covered in stain and water resistant Neoprene and can fold flat or be removed entirely. Neoprene also covers the dash and instrument panel surfaces.

Storage abounds in the interior door panels and behind the seats where gear can be stored on the floor or in a wall mounted box. The console between the driver and passenger can also be removed, transforming itself into a portable cooler.

Gale made the gauges bold and simple. Large rotary knobs operate the stereo/CD and HVAC controls.

The bed provides plenty of space for bike and gear tie downs. Note the hinged, flip up rear window.

Based on the Dodge Dakota frame and utilizing the Jeep Liberty's all-new 3.7-liter V6 210hp / 235 ft-lb. engine, the M80 uses a large number of components from Chrysler's existing parts bin. This heavily hints at its production feasibility.

A sliding rear window was eliminated in favor of a hinged window that allows for extra space to stow gear if the bed is not long enough.

And while we didn't get to hear the whole conversation before we were spotted, we did overhear one Chrysler executive speaking to another, "So of the concepts on display, we are going to build the M80 right?" The other executive saw us and didn't respond until we were out of earshot. Bummer.

Our guess is that the M80, or something quite similar, will join the Dodge lineup just below the Dodge Ram and Dakota pickups.

With its Power Wagon looks, and a low entry-level price, the M80 would be a welcome addition to the family.

2002 Dodge M80 concept.