Ask Nathan: Bring Back This Pickup With Baby Ram, More EV Hate And – Save A 1982 Toyota Starlet?

This baby Ram pickup is the 2002 Dodge Ram M80 concept. (Images: Aries)

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Can they please build the baby Ram pickup truck concept from 20 years ago?
  • Does your car contribute to blackouts and brownouts?
  • I want to save my grandfather’s 1982 Toyota Starlet… I think.

The first question comes from an Aries fan who wants Stellantis to consider building a baby Aries pickup like they suggested over 20 years ago.

Q: (via YouTube) Hi Nathan, I saw this cool baby Aries pickup concept article and I love it.

By the way, thanks for answering my last question. So I saw this (Mopar Insider) article about the 2002 Ram M80 concept truck. I forgot how cool this little truck was and I thought it would be a perfect platform to build some new baby Ram pickup .


A: Man, when the 2002 Ram M80 concept (the baby Ram pickup) hit the auto show circuit, I was sure they’d build it.

It was SO cool, but it never happened.

Unfortunately, even in 2002, consumers showed a lack of interest in small two-passenger pickups. Dodge already had the Dakota at the time, so the sales consideration may have been an issue as well. Still, the character, theme, execution and general idea behind the M80 was excellent.

It has a fairly simple powertrain, including a Dodge Dakota V6 running gear. That meant an anemic 3.9-liter V6, five-speed manual and a decent low-range transfer case. The approach and departure angles look mighty good, and I absolutely love the flip-open rear window, which adds to the payload’s usability (and awesomeness).

Something like this, a retro theme that’s utilitarian and sized to compete with the Ford Maverick, is EXACTLY what Stellantis needs. Whether it’s a PHEV, all-electric or powered by unicorn blood – it can be epic. Last week, when answering your last question, I went into detail about comments made by Stellantis about small pickups in their future.

You can read that (here).

The bottom line is that Stellantis, Toyota, Nissan, GM and others suck wind until they find an answer on the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. They need to get on the ball – now.


The next question comes from an anonymously posted comment about blackouts (and brownouts) and how EVs are responsible for them.

Q: Have you noticed how much more blackouts and brownouts are happening because of EV cars?

It never happened this way before. And once the power goes out, how did you manage to power your EV car, I wonder?

(Political comment removed)

I think we will all get stronger by pushing dead EV cars everywhere.

Power consumption for a typical device (source:

A: THAT is hugely informative; however – blackouts, brownouts and color television have been around for a while. Well before the big push for electric vehicles.

Blaming battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is beyond ridiculous. Try using some logic.

Most electric vehicles charged on a 240-volt Level II charger consume approximately 7,200 watts or less. The most popular residential charging systems are Level II. Now a typical water heater draws 4,500 watts and a typical electric furnace draws about 10,000 watts. Now my kid’s Nissan Leaf draws a maximum of 3,600 watts at 110v – and that’s how we charge it 95 percent of the time. That is the equivalent of a very small air conditioner or a space heater.

This article from Inside EVs (by: Mark Kane) beautifully explains the whole EV power-draw enchilada.

Let me be honest with you for a second: It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, or what speculation feeds the disinformation you consume. Look at the numbers and make an informed decision for yourself. Forget the pros and cons, illuminate your own path with knowledge, not hearsay.

If I really thought (based on the real numbers) that EVs and PHEVs are causing power outages, it would be a news story worth reporting. It’s not – because it’s not happening.

By the way – I have solar on my house, so charging my kids’ EV isn’t a problem, even if my power is “poof”. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there were about 2.7 million residential solar systems in the United States at the end of 2020. It is expected to affect about 10 percent of American homeowners in the coming years. All that doesn’t count people who also have other, alternative power backup.

Please – ask all news sources and come up with some hard data for yourself. Look at facts, not theories. Be informed and use that melon of yours to store real data, for your own good.


The last question comes from a fan who is thinking about restoring their grandfather’s 1982 Toyota Starlet.

Q: (Via Twitter@NathanAdlen) Hi Nathan.

My grandfather died about a year ago and he had an old Toyota Starlet sitting in his backyard. I think it’s an 82. It drives quite well but has some rust in the back. My brother says it’s repairable and might be worth some money. I’m thinking of restoring it and driving it. What do you think I should do with it? I don’t have much money to play with. Maybe $1,000 for everything. Is it worth it? My friend is a mechanic and said most of the work wouldn’t cost that much. Is this a good car?

A: Oh man, the Toyota Starlet was such a sweet little car.

It never reached Corolla status in the US market, but it was an important car for the automaker worldwide. The cool thing is that despite being a plain-looking econobox, it was a blast to drive. It had rear-wheel drive and was pretty snappy for a fuel sipper. Many tuners enjoy getting their greedy larvae on these cars as their platform is perfect for customization.

It is a great candidate for restoration. There are many parts available and it is quite unique. At the same time, I have a request: please don’t let the adjustments drive you crazy. Sure, updating the brakes and tires is a smart bet, but please don’t slam it or turn it down. There are very few pristine specimens rolling around, and it would be a shame to chop up a good specimen.


Speaking of old Toyotas…

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