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Classic Cars

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Chrysler’s Dodge division released one of the most unusual trucks ever made. Called the Lil’ Red Express Truck, this truck offered hard-to-find styling and serious performance ability. Infact, in 1978, the Dodge Lil’ Red Express was the quickest vehicle made in the United States from 0 to 100 MPH as tested by Car and Driver magazine. Yes, this included the Corvette and all other powerful muscle cars; the Lil’ Red Express Truck beat all of them.

Lil’ Red Truck

Today, very good examples of the Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck may be purchased in the $10K to $15K range. Continue reading to learn more about the truck!

Appearance Details

The Little Red Truck was built on the Dodge’s 115-inch short-wheelbase. It has a Utiline-style half-ton D150 frame with 6,050 pound gross vehicle weight. What made it travel so quickly was the engine that Dodge installed– the E58-specification police engine equipped with SuperFlow heads, a police cam (252° duration with 33° of overlap), heavy duty valve springs, dual-snorkel air intake and cold air induction. A modified A-727 transmission with a 2500 rpm stall converter helped a 3.55 Sure Grip rear axle assembly going.

The truck’s package also included Hemi style free-flow mufflers with a crossover pipe breathing through 2 x 2.5” monster chrome stacks. The stacks jetted up the truck’s sides. One of the reasons the Lil’ Red Express Truck was so quick was due to a loophole in the regulations. It didn’t have to have any restrictive catalytic converters in the exhaust pathway like passenger cars required.

And here’s another juicy detail: this truck was originally supposed to be called the ‘Red Warlock’, but the name changed somewhere between the truck’s conception and its March 1978 launch.

Outstanding Styling

For styling, it was quite bold. According to this RAM truck dealer in Springfield, PA, a fire engine red paint scheme with big graphics embellished the cab’s doors. On the front, the Lil’ Red Express Truck rode on GR60x15 raised white letter tires with seven- and eight-inch wheels. The interiors could be attained with a standard bench seat in red or black or with available buckets, and a fold-down arm/rest console was also available.

The Lil’ Red Express Truck was quite unique yet sold only 2,188 units in 1978. Nonetheless, for some time it gave its owners a taste of the raw power of America’s quickest factory vehicle.

1978 Lil’ Red Express Truck

With the 1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck’s success, production of the 1979 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck’s was upped to 5,118. Most of the features remained unchanged for 1979, but there were a few changes which included the ability to use unleaded gas, a catalytic converter, and a more restrained 85 MPH speedometer.

The most interesting styling changes on the 1979 editions were the new flat hood and dual square headlights that replaced the round versions on 1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck’s and the 1979’s rode on LR60x15 raised white letter tires on eight-inch chrome wheels on all four corners.

Image by Wikimedia

For this article, we thought we’d have a little fun. We asked the folks at Performance Dodge if they had any good automotive practical jokes to share. They didn’t disappoint and told us a couple of famous ones.

The Impossible Gas Mileage Trick

This prank was retold by a technician at Performance Dodge of Woodbury, NJ, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, who worked at another dealership in the 1970s. As the story goes, the shop foreman at this other place decided he “had enough” of vehicles that got “poor gas mileage” and decided to buy an ultra-thrifty Fiat 1500. This, of course, gave him tremendous bragging rights and he used them liberally.

So, the rest of the mechanics at the dealership decided a two-part prank was in order. The first part was to get this new Fiat 1500 to deliver some really stunning gas mileage. Here’s what they did. Every few days one of the mechanics would go out to the shop foreman’s Fiat and add some gas to his gas tank. They continued this for several months with the result that the foreman was getting close to 80MPG in his car. As you might imagine, he let everyone in sight know about this.

The second step was to simply stop adding extra gas. Then the foreman’s mileage quickly dropped from “80MPG” back down to 35MPG and the poor guy kept on bringing it back to the Fiat dealer for evaluation. He insisted that he was getting 80 MPG before. The Fiat Dealership thought he was a little loony but patiently check out the new Fiat for any “problems.” They, of course, never found anything. Eventually, the secret slipped that he had been duped by his co-workers and, let’s say, he wasn’t too happy about it.

The Leaking Car Trick

This prank allegedly occurred at a large manufacturing plant in the South. As the story goes, the head of the Quality Control (QC) department was a particularly condescending guy, especially with many maintenance guys he worked with. So, one day, Mr. QC rolls into work with a beautiful new Corvette and parks it in his designated parking spot. The maintenance guys noticed this right away and decided a nice prank was in order. This is what they did:

Every day, one of them would slip out to the parking lot and pour a half a pint or so of motor oil under the motor of his new Corvette. Good prank, eh? No, it gets even better. One of the 2nd shift maintenance guys lived near Mr. QC and every night when he got home from work (in wee hours of the morning) he would go to Mr. QCs house also pour a little oil under the car there too.

After many trips back to his local GM dealership (which you can just imagine were quite confrontational), Mr. QC decided he couldn’t take it anymore and sold his prized Corvette. In fact, as the story goes, he never bought a GM car again. Rule of thumb for those in management: don’t irritate the maintenance guys.

Featured image source: Pixabay

Classic cars are beautiful things. Many have a great story, effortless style and enough character to turn anybody’s head. Yet there are some things you should consider carefully before buying a classic car, as you can be left with little more than a pile of rust and a lot less cash if you aren’t completely prepared for the challenge.

Do Your Research

This isn’t just considering what kind of car you would like. As a rule, you should go and see the car twice, drive it as much as you can, and thoroughly check the car and its paperwork before committing to buy it. This is vital and will lead to later repercussions if you don’t do your research thoroughly beforehand. For some great tips on what your research should consist of, check out this article on Preloved.

Tailor Your Insurance To You and Your Car

Classic cars don’t necessarily benefit from being on a standard insurance. In fact, you’ll probably find it difficult to get a good price on insurance if you’re looking at the standard websites and quotes. Save yourself some money and stress by getting classic car insurance. A-Plan Insurance have some great policies and allow you to tailor the insurance to you and your driving habits.

Drive Your Car Often

This sounds like strange advice but some people will simply leave a classic car in a garage or storage facility and only take it out on special occasions. The problem with this is cars are made to be driven! If they aren’t used regularly, the mechanisms in your car can begin to erode. Though this can be avoided with proper storage, you should still try to drive your car as often as possible to avoid any costly repair bills.

Keep Your Car Well-Maintained

Remember that a classic car is older than other cars and so it may require more attention. Make car maintenance one of your priorities and check it for any damage or potential problems regularly.

A great way to do this is by washing your car on a regular basis. As you wash it, check all over for any signs of wear and tear. Make sure you also check underneath your car as that’s where many of the bigger problems can start. After you’ve finished washing and waxing, take your car for a drive and ensure that everything is in excellent condition. If you have any worries, take it to a mechanic who specialises in classic cars as soon as you can. Remember: small problems can escalate very quickly.

Enjoy your classic car. It is a thing of beauty; a masterpiece of its time; an exuberant pleasure that very few people get the chance to experience. However, think carefully about your responsibility as owner of a piece of history. Classic car ownership is not something to be taken lightly.