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!
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.
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