Ask Nathan: Bring Back This Baby Ram Pickup, Even More EV Hatred, and – Saving a 1982 Toyota Starlet?

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

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

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

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

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

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


  • Saleh

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

It was THAT cool, but it never came to pass.

Unfortunately, even in 2002, consumers were showing a lack of interest in small, two-passenger pickup trucks. Dodge already had the Dakota at the time, so the sales tradeoff might have been an issue too. Still, the character, theme, execution and overall idea behind the M80 was outstanding.

It has a rather basic powertrain, including the running gear from a Dodge Dakota V6. That meant an anemic 3.9-liter V6, a five-speed manual transmission and a proper low-range transfer case. Its approach and departure angles look mighty good, and I absolutely dig the flip-open rear glass, that adds to cargo utility (and awesomeness).

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

You can read about that (here).

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


The next question comes from an anonymously posted comment regarding blackouts (and brownouts), and how EVs are responsible.

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

Didn’t happen before like this. And once the power goes poof how’d you manage to power your EV car I wonder?

(Removed political commentary)

I guess we’ll all get stronger pushing dead EV cars everywhere.

  • Anonymous
Power Draw for a Typical Appliance (source:

A: Now THAT’S mighty 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 plugin hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is beyond ridiculous. Try using logic for just a second.

Most electric vehicles that charge on a 240-volt Level II charger draw about 7,200 watts, or less. The most popular charging systems for homes 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 on 110v – which is how we charge it 95-percent of the time. That’s the equivalent of running a very small air conditioner, or a space heater.

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

Let me be real with you for a moment: it doesn’t matter what you have heard, or what speculation is fueling the disinformation you’re consuming. Look at the numbers, and make an educated decision on your own. Forget the pros and cons, illuminate your own path with knowledge, not hearsay.

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

By the way – I have solar on my house, so charging my kids EV isn’t a problem even if my power goes “poof.” According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, at the end of 2020, there were about 2.7 million residential solar systems in the United States. It’s expected to hit about 10-percent of U.S. homeowners in the next few years. All of that isn’t counting folks who have other, alternative power backup as well.

Please – question 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 back and he had an old Toyota Starlet sitting in his back yard. I think it is an 82. It runs pretty good but it has some rust in the back. My brother says its repairable and might be worth some money. I’m thinking about 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 that most of the work needed wouldn’t cost that much. Is this a good car?

  • Carl in RI

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

In the U.S. market it never achieved the status of the Corolla, but it was an important car for the automaker worldwide. The cool part is, despite being a basic-looking econobox, it was a hoot to drive. It was rear-wheel drive, and was plenty zippy for a fuel sipper. Lots of tuners like getting their greedy grubs on these cars as their platform is perfect for modifications.

It’s a great candidate for restoration. Many parts are available, and it’s pretty unique. At the same time, I have a request to make: please don’t go crazy with the modifications. Sure, updating the brakes and tires is a smart bet, but please don’t slam it, or butcher it. There are very few pristine ones rolling around, and it would be a shame to chop up a good example.


Speaking of old Toyotas…