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Thread: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

  1. #1
    Mitsu booster
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    New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    Hi everyone. I just wanted to give everybody a little info about myself and my automotive interests, and from there hopefully there is a future of outstanding exchanges of knowledge, insight, advice and opinions between the other members of this forum and myself. Although I am new to Turbo Mopars, I am not new entirely to turbo cars, nor Mopars for that matter. I have owned three 1985 Nissan 300ZX turbos over the course of about 15 years, and as for Mopars, I have two Jeep Cherokees on the road and one Dodge Dakota (2.5!). That's sorta what brought me around to the 2.5 engine, I had bought the 95 Dakota strictly for the drivetrain, which I thought included an AMC 2.5. Bought the truck without even popping the hood, the price was right and it started and ran great. I guess I should have recognized the sound of the overhead cam as being distinct from the pushrod Jeep 2.5, but the exhaust was loud and I really wasn't paying attention. All I knew was that it sounded good. Well, I was a year off! 96 was the first year that the AMC derived 2.5 was used. I had used 97 and up Dakota's for the motors before. Since I work on Jeeps, this Chrysler 2.5 was of no use to me. So, fixed the truck up and decided to keep it as a work truck. After driving it over several months, I began to appreciate the modest 2.5. Not a ton of power, but I really like the MPG.
    Finally, I was at the junkyard a few weeks ago, and came across a wrecked 89 Turbo Spirit. It had 61,000 miles on the odometer, and judging by the overall condition of the car this was accurate. Literally, a little old lady owned it. From what I could tell, she had hit a deer and the insurance company totaled it. I turned the motor over with a breaker bar, and it felt really good, so I took the chance that the engine was is great shape and yanked it out, along with the ECU. I have to go back to get the wiring harness. So I guess some of you may have guessed the direction I am going with this, or what I am thinking about doing at least: A turbo 2.5 Dakota. But not necessarily, I am not certain yet. After looking into these cars a little further, I am starting to really appreciate the LeBaron turbos, so maybe I will try to find one of those with bad engine. As it stands now, I just have a complete 2.5 turbo engine (this is the turbo 2, correct?) I realize this stuff is not that easy, I can't just throw an 89 Spirit turbo motor in my 95 Dakota and expect it to run. At this point, I don't even know is I can bolt a Dakota flywheel to the Spirit engine (same bolt number/pattern?) Or if it would be necessary (and easier) to just swap the external turbo components onto the NA block, and keep boost stock due to the NA higher CR. And honestly, I pretty much detest wiring, so splicing two harnesses together won't be fun. The good thing is, I have absolutely everything intact on the motor, and the turbo looks to be in excellent condition. Additionally, I have complete confidence in my mechanical abilities to achieve either goal, but I'm sure I might need a few pointers. Like I said I just need to grab the main harness off the car. So I guess if I do go that route, I am sure I will greatly appreciate any knowledge anyone has or advice they can give. I've belonged to a 300ZX forum, and a Jeep forum, but kinda lost interest because it just seems there are too many ego's at play, and it is offensive the way some of the members treat others who are less knowledgeable than themselves, like when a kid asks a (perceived) dumb question. But from what I can see on this site after browsing it a little, is that its members have a more mature attitude and are more helpful towards each other. Now that seems like a place I can get along with!
    I am going to first give the turbo engine a little once over, all new gaskets for sure. Mopar performance head gasket. I already have a full gasket set, and it's Fel-Pro, but I might go for the seemingly better Mopar performance one. From what I read, as long as you don't use a Vic-R hg, you should be OK. I am optimistic as well due to the fact the Chrysler uses many of the same components and sensors throughout their model range, as long as they are relatively close in model year. I have located all of the ECU pin identifications for the 89 ECU, and plan to buy the factory service manual for that specific car as well. The only info I have found about anyone trying to make a turbo Dakota was on one of the forums a few years ago a guy was working on a conversion, but basically gave up on it because he couldn't get it to run. Aside from that, nothing. That wasn't very promising. However, that doesn't mean that it cannot be accomplished.
    Well, thanks to anyone who took time to read my introduction. If anyone has any comments or suggestions, I will be more than happy to hear them. Thanks again everyone.
    Last edited by Vigo; 04-16-2016 at 11:20 PM. Reason: Edited title to make info more searchable.

  2. #2
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Vigo's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    You can't simply bolt the spirit engine into the Dakota with no modifiactions.
    • The throttle body elbow on the intake manifold will interfere with the firewall and you'll have to chop and block that off and remount a throttle body to the other end of the intake.
    • The end of the crank may not be drilled to the proper size to accept a dakota pilot bearing.
    • The holes for the driver side engine mount are not drilled in the block. The bosses are usually there, just with no holes drilled in them.


    Having said all that, you CAN make it work, but not without doing some work to it while it is out before trying to install it.

    As to the issue of whether to go through the hassle of swapping in a whole different engine or just bolting turbo parts to the engine you have, there are differing opinions. The prevailing 'wisdom' over the years has been that the higher compression will make the engine too sensitive to detonation to run much boost on. I disagree with that and feel that while you certainly run into detonation earlier, it's not so early as to be useless, and depending on your power goals it may not even be worth the effort to gain the extra fudge factor of the lower compression turbo pistons. I recently ran a turbo caravan with non-turbo pistons and rods to 14.0 in the 1/4 with the only thing stopping it from going faster being a maxed out turbo (same as the one on the engine you bought). Obviously a Dakota is heavier, but if you didn't care about going that fast to begin with, then I would say the non-turbo pistons and rods are probably fine for you. Here is the thread detailing that minivan build: http://www.turbo-mopar.com/forums/sh...ing&highlight=


    The engine you bought is a 2.5L T1 setup, which means it uses what we call the 1piece intake manifold and the small mitsubishi (TE04H) turbo with no intercooler. A perfectly good engine, but the tiny turbo maxes out around ~230 crank hp. The older 2.2 T1 and all 2.2 T2 engines use a larger Garrett T3 turbo which is a 'bolt on' mod and is capable of closer to 300 crank hp and pretty easy to acquire.

    One of the problems with using the stock turbo and stock exhaust manifold is that it points the turbo inlet directly into the firewall with not even enough room to run a tight 90* coupler coming off. If you are the type that is comfortable with just sticking a mesh screen across the turbo inlet then you COULD run it like that. Otherwise you would need to change the setup either by making a short standoff pipe that moves the turbo up and away from the stock location, or possibly even the stock dakota exhaust manifold with a pipe going under the engine to the other side and mounting the turbo on the other side.

    The wiring is not TERRIBLE but you will have to delve into some diagrams and do cutting/splicing/soldering no matter which way you go. If you can find a 90-93 factory 2.5 turbo computer, you can simply rearrange some of the pins on your PCM connector, add a few circuits for the new injector driver and sensors you will need to run for the turbo engine, rerun/relocate some of the wiring that is already there, and then plug the turbo computer into your modified non-turbo harness.

    You'll also need to add an inline fuel pump or replace the stock one in order to safely maintain the higher fuel pressures the turbo engines run on (as delivered, anyway..). The stock turbo fuel pressure is 55psi + boost psi, so it could easily hit 70+ on a modified setup. I have seen the tbi pumps max out at 40-something, barely enough to run a turbo engine at idle.

    Dont push the red button.You hear me?

  3. #3
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Force Fed Mopar's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    Welcome to the forum!
    Rob M.
    '89 Turbo GTC
    2.5 TIII swap is here!

    Project LookOwt
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    Back to basics, then the mods go back on....

  4. #4
    Supporting Member Turbo Mopar Contributor 2.216VTurbo's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    Dakota Shmakota... You said you liked LeBaron's, find a well cared for donor car with a TBI or a V6 and put the Spirit motor in that. I'll admit, I'm late to the Lebaron game having never owned one until a couple years ago, before that they were just the donor cars in J-yards to me that had all the good parts. I pillaged so many Lebaron GTC's in the last 20 years, forged motors, big brakes, intercoolers. I just thought it was the J body's role in life to be donors for the L body's

    Welcome to the forum What's your location and why the 1985 turbo 300 Z's, they made them thru 89 in that body style right?

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  5. #5
    boostaholic
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    Early turbo ZX's had those ugly squared off lines, you might say kinda hated styling similar to alot of the boxy stuff on this forum. Factory V6 turbo, not very recognized for the potential they have, again sounding familiar..

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWhite View Post
    ..kinda lost interest because it just seems there are too many ego's at play, and it is offensive the way some of the members treat others who are less knowledgeable than themselves, like when a kid asks a (perceived) dumb question. But from what I can see on this site after browsing it a little, is that its members have a more mature attitude and are more helpful towards each other. Now that seems like a place I can get along with!
    Exactly my thought when I ran across this forum. Good cars, but great peeps.
    MinivanRider

  6. #6
    Mitsu booster
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    Thank you very much, everyone, for all of your replies. I am really impressed with the knowledge and the atmosphere here in general, again reaffirmed with what everyone had to say. Yes, the V6 turbo Z was an often overlooked "sleeper", which was relatively easy to modify. For some reason I just liked those mid-eighties sports cars, I was torn between an RX-7 turbo and the turbo Z. I bought my first one my high school senior year and had it until 2012 (I live in Pennsylvania=RUST!) plus I drove it all year round. It ended up in the scrap yard then. And yes, the Z31 ranged from 84-89. Although I've always preferred manuals, when I drove this one I was hooked even with an automatic. I was shocked by how much of an animal it turned into simply by putting a 13 inch K&N cone on, a 2.5 catback, tossing the clutch fan for an electric. Then I bled the wastegate, 6.5 psi (I believe) factory, and saw consistent 13 psi on the gauge I installed. Since it was beyond my ability at the time, I had a family friend who worked at a Nissan dealership put a 4:11 ring and pinion in the rear. 85 was the last year for an open diff (86+ LSD), so I was often at a loss for traction. And the thing shifted better than you could ever imagine. Ever since then, turbo cars just had a special place in my heart. For some reason I just never paid much attention to the Chrysler Turbos, although a buddy had an 88 Dayton turbo. I liked the car and it was fast, but back then I was stuck on a necessity of my cars being RWD. Now that isn't so important to me. But even today I see the turbo cars of the 80's and early 90's as a sort of pinnacle of the true essence of a sports car: quick, nimble, light weight, and above all, relatively simple. Plus the styling is unbeatable. Again, the Chysler's have these characteristics, despite the fact that for most of my life I had largely ignored them in favor of Z's, RX-7's, and Supra's. But at this point, these 2.5 and 2.2 little power houses have caught my attention.
    So, I will heed the above information and advice. Maybe the turbo Dakota isn't the route I should take. Yes, it is alot of work, and that's why I'm glad I ran that by you guys first, because I figured you would know these little details that I was unaware of. Like Vigo said, it can be done, and further as 2.216VTurbo kindly noted, I do like LeBaron's. In the end, I think I would be much happier with a 200 HP coupe with leather seats and woodgrain trim, then a turbo charged, bench seat work truck with a mangled firewall that cost me countless hours in my garage at night, which I would ironically use primarily just for picking up and delivering motors! I also like the fact that I can get myself a LeBaron, and even if it doesn't have every option I want, I can just find another one as a donor----give me the leather seats, and definitely the 16 inch mesh wheels. Thanks to Chyrsler for keeping the parts mostly interchangeable (I work on Jeeps pretty much everyday, so I see how smart they were to use the same components for many years at a time, try that with an Audi!) So it is beginning to look like I'll just find myself a Lebaron, I've already be looking on craigslist. But for some reason I would rather have a fixed roof version, the convertibles aren't bad, but I'd rather have a solid roof, if for nothing other than my own aesthetic preferences.
    Ok, thanks again everyone. I will definitely be a regular user here, right now I'm just trying to learn a few things. I've also been reading some good info on allpar. And soon enough will be tearing into that 61,000 mile turbo engine!!

  7. #7
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Force Fed Mopar's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    I love my Lebaron coupes I've always liked them since I first saw one in my teenage years. First one was a '89 TBI 5-spd coupe, not fast but nice to drive after a few mods. 2nd one is my current '89 Turbo GTC coupe, with a 2.5 long block, T2 setup, awic intercooler, exhaust, 3bar and injectors, and 18-20 psi it made a great dd and was pretty damn quick for a near stock setup. Hung neck and neck with a 1st gen SRT8 300 on the hwy. About to tear it apart now and do a 2.5 TIII swap. It's been a blast on the 8v setup, can't wait to see what it does on the dohc 16v, should hurt lots of feelings

    I just find them comfortable to drive and I like the styling best of all them. Daytonas are pretty much exactly the same inside and are my 2nd favorite in styling. Never have driven a convertible Lebaron, but they look decent.
    Rob M.
    '89 Turbo GTC
    2.5 TIII swap is here!

    Project LookOwt
    '91 Daytona ES, 61k original miles, Rick Lozier's old 3.0 nitrous car
    Back to basics, then the mods go back on....

  8. #8
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor ajakeski's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today!

    Quote Originally Posted by 2.216VTurbo View Post
    I just thought it was the J body's role in life to be donors for the L body's
    All other FWD mopars exist to donate parts to L Bodies.

    I may have an extremely low mileage TBI LeBaron convertible for sale in the near future...
    Last edited by ajakeski; 04-17-2016 at 08:40 PM.

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Turbo Mopar Contributor bfarroo's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    I had a turbo dakota for years, it was a 95 also, WI rust killed it and it got parted/scrapped. I've been meaning to try to get the pictures I had of it. They're on a computer that crashed years ago and I never got around to trying to pull the info off it. As others mentioned the intake and exhaust aren't in the idea location for the RWD application. I cut the intake elbow off and capped that end and then knocked the plug out of the other end and welded on a extension to get the TB out where I wanted it. I ran the stock mitsu turbo and was able to get everything plumbed but it is really tight using relatively small tubing. Everything on the stock turbo is on the wrong side and pointing in the wrong direction. A custom manifold and orienting the turbo to have the cold side in front and the hot side in back would make things way easier. The crank needs to be able to accept the pilot bearing for the trans, Some are drilled and some aren't. I swapped the NA crank into the turbo block since that was the easiest route I could see with the parts I had. The wiring wasn't that bad if you can follow the wiring diagrams. I kept the dakota's fuse block and spliced in all the turbo stuff by pulling the wires from the pins of the computer harness. I labeled every wire on both harnesses as to what pin they were and what harness they were from. I used a 88 TII daytona harness which will be very similar to your spirit harness. It was a fun truck but would have taken a lot of work to get it to the next level and it was to far gone with rust even when I got it. Another thing is the gearing isn't the greatest, I used it as a DD and also towed my cars on a dolly with it. I'd tow in 4th at a few #'s of boost and get around 17MPG. If you decided to stick with the dakota I'll answer any question I can.
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  10. #10
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Vigo's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    That's about the same MPG i got towing a car on a dolley with my 3.3 dynasty, a 3.8 town and country, and a 3.9 Dakota. So not really out of line for towing mpg.

    And with a manual you don't really worry about hurting the trans just towing down the road, so that's nice.

    Dont push the red button.You hear me?

  11. #11
    turbo addict
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    In the end, I think I would be much happier with a 200 HP coupe with leather seats and woodgrain trim
    Hey Alan...sounds like he wants a TC!

    To the OP, the Dakota block should be what we call a "common block" already, meaning it's going to have the strongest design. You can swap in turbo internals and it all bolts in (as long as you match the pistons to the crank...rods are the same). The thing that needs to be done to the block is a turbo drain back, but you don't even have to do that to the block! You can certainly add it to the pan. I don't know about the pilot bearing hole for Dak cranks vs. turbo cranks, but I would imagine that it's something a machine shop could handle pretty easily, but in all honesty the crank in it should be fine for turbo use. As has been stated, the rods are not as strong on the NA engines, and of course the pistons have a larger dish for the turbo versions. As long as you don't over-rev or detonate the living mess out of it, they should even work fairly well with a *good* tune.

    So, to me, if you wanted to turbo your Dak, I'd figure out the turbo mounting stuff, pop the head off, plop the turbo head on with the correctly oriented turbo hardware, do the wiring and fuel and go see how long the clutch lasts! LOL I would keep the bottom end of the engine you pulled and either mod it to work in the Dak and swap it out when it's ready, or do like you are saying, find a nicer LeBaron and build that. I know...lots of options...

  12. #12
    Mitsu booster
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    Lots of options indeed...lol... I've spent the last few days reading up on the 2.5 related cars in basically every moment of my free time. Though my initial interest was in creating a turbo Dakota, I honestly a now am fixated on a LeBaron. I totally realized it would be a ton of work, I knew what I would be in for, and though I needed some direction, I would be comfortable doing it. There just seems to be a better and more rewarding direction with the car, and squeezing some more power out of that. I had bought another turbo Z after scrapping the one I had for years, but sold it the end of last year. I miss the car a bit, but it was time to move on, and a LeBaron seems to be the replacement for that void. Awesome to know that someone did successfully accomplish the turbo Dakota, rust can ruin anyone's day!! If you ever get a chance bfarroo, it would still be awesome to see some pictures of your creation. Hope you are able to retrieve them. Thanks for everyone's input and encouragement. It sounds like I will have some considerate and knowledgeable fellow enthusiasts to give me some pointers once I get started on, yes, a Lebaron!! I live in Pa, but I have a range of about 1000 miles I will travel to pick up the right one. I have my trusted 95 Cherokee and tow dolly (coincidentally also gets about 17 mpg towing), and I tow cars quite a bit, so I'm up for a little trip for the right one. Obviously since I drive vehicles that were made 20 years ago, I'm not exactly floating in dollar bills! (but hey, I own all of them!) Therefore I will probably be looking for something that needs work and costs around $1000. That was my idea with the "blown motor" scenario, since I wouldn't be able to drop 3 grand on something in great condition. As unconventional as my start may be (buying the motor before the car), it should all work out in the end. I guess I am somewhat unconventional anyway, I converted a 4WD 1991 Cherokee Briarwood into a 2WD, and also have a 2WD four cyl. Cherokee.

  13. #13
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Vigo's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    Well, running Dakotas are worth a lot more than broken Lebarons. You should easily be able to fund the Lebaron project by selling the Dakota for 2k+ (if it's decent).

    Dont push the red button.You hear me?

  14. #14
    Moderator Turbo Mopar Staff Force Fed Mopar's Avatar
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    Quote Originally Posted by Vigo View Post
    Well, running Dakotas are worth a lot more than broken Lebarons. You should easily be able to fund the Lebaron project by selling the Dakota for 2k+ (if it's decent).
    Or trade it for a decent Lebaron...
    Rob M.
    '89 Turbo GTC
    2.5 TIII swap is here!

    Project LookOwt
    '91 Daytona ES, 61k original miles, Rick Lozier's old 3.0 nitrous car
    Back to basics, then the mods go back on....

  15. #15
    Mitsu booster
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    Re: New to the forum today! *Turbo Dakota Questions*

    I have always wanted to do this mainly because it would be cool as heck to have a rwd turbo Mopar. I don't understand why Chrysler never made one but o well. Anyway if it was me I'd build the Dakota just to be different. I actually went pretty far down that road but in a different direction I was using a Jeep Liberty 2.4 with the 5spd trans but the truck I was going to build got totaled by a drunk driver with no insurance. It can definitely be done and I think you would have more fun with the truck due to the fact that both cars you have stated you liked (rx7 300zx) was rwd and the Lebaron is fwd. but don't get me wrong both would be fun as hell so good luck with what ever you decide and have fun with it.

    ill look for some pics I have of other turbo daks and post em up as motivation to build the truck lol

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