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Dude where's my truck? The Dodge Dude pickups

The story behind Dodge's forgotten "Dude" pickups.

Traveling back to the November 2004 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, we find on display the one-off Dodge Durango Dude pickup created by Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team.

What, you ask, is Chrysler’s SkunkWerks?

The SkunkWerks was a group of in-house enthusiasts brought together as part of the Chrysler’s then-growing emphasis on performance, parts, accessories and customization.

For the purpose of stretching the imagination and testing consumer interest, the creative minds at the SkunkWerks reconfigured a 2004 Dodge Durango SUV into the stunning Dude pickup. This show vehicle was powered by the naturally aspirated 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine and was painted PPG Tangerine Pearl. The Dude’s cab and truck bed exterior panels were customized to seamlessly blended together. The look was enhanced by custom front and rear fascias and sill extensions and a composite hood inspired by the Viper-powered Dodge Ram SRT-10. Other modifications included seating from Lear, a cat-back dual exhaust, lowered suspension and 20-inch Budnick billet rims to provide the finishing touch.

The 2004 Dodge Dude custom truck was designed and built by Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team for the ’04 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

The 2004 Dodge Dude custom truck was designed and built by Chrysler Group’s SkunkWerks team for the ’04 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

Many viewing the Durango Dude prototype at that 2004 SEMA Show, including some manufacturer representatives, did not know that the “Dude” name was used briefly on Dodge production trucks in 1970 and ’71.

Dodge introduced a unique paint and tape option to spiff-up the longbox (128-inch wheelbase) D-100 Sweptline 1/2-ton pickup, calling the finished parcel the Dude Sports Trim Package. This decorated pickup was an attention getter featuring full-length body-side, C-shaped stripes (similar in design to those available on the Dodge Super Bee), Dude hat logos, a body-color outside mirror arm and a painted gas cap.

There were six body colors from which to choose, including MoPar’s shocking High-Impact Color shades such as Sublime (green) and Plum Crazy (purple). These are the same shades applied to that era’s Dodge Charger, Super Bee and Challenger muscle car models. Other colors available on the Dude included Medium Burnt Orange, Bright Yellow, Bright Red and Bright Turquoise.

A 1970 Dodge Sweptline pickup truck sales brochure pictures the Dude with its C-shaped body stripes on High-Impact Sublime (green) body paint. Spokesman for the Dude that year was Don Knotts from the classic "Andy Griffith Show" TV program.

A 1970 Dodge Sweptline pickup truck sales brochure pictures the Dude with its C-shaped body stripes on High-Impact Sublime (green) body paint. Spokesman for the Dude that year was Don Knotts from the classic "Andy Griffith Show" TV program.

The Dude tape stripe (decals) came either black or white to harmonize with the standard exterior paint colors and interior trim colors. It was recommended that, if the extra-equipment two-tone paint or even vinyl roof was ordered, the roof color match the body-side decal color. When the Dude Sports Trim Package was combined with the Custom Package, the bright upper-body-side molding was deleted from the Custom Package.

At the rear of the Dude pickup truck were bright taillamp bezels, and the tailgate received a large white or black rectangular decal with the Dodge name asymmetrically placed on the far right side.

The 15-inch wheels were painted black or white and embellished with small, “dog dish” hubcaps and chrome trim rings. White decals were used on the hubcaps when the wheels were black, and black decals highlighted hub caps when Dude trucks were fitted with white wheels.

To power the Dude pickup, customers had their choice of either the 225-cid Slant Six, 318-cid small-block V-8 or mighty 383 V-8.

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never seen or heard of a Dude Dodge pickup; just 1,000 or so were built in 1970 and ’71, all of which were built exclusively at Chrysler Corp.’s Fenton, Mo., assembly plant. The figures are surprisingly low since Dodge paid five-time Emmy Award-winner Don Knotts, aka Deputy Barney Fife in the classic “Andy Griffith Show” TV program, to be the spokesperson for the Dodge Dude.

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