Just watch, these cool pickups are going to be the next big thing. In 1979, this Dodge Lil' Red Express truck was about as close as you were going to get to a real muscle car with a full bed, and I doubt we'll ever get an OEM building a truck with chrome stacks, wood paneling, and this much personality. With only 5,118 'Lil Reds built in 1979, these cool trucks are becoming more collectable each year.
The name says it all: Lil' Red Express. It's a red pickup, neatly dressed up to look a little vintage with the wood paneling on the bed and the big gold logo on the doors. It was the '70s so anything was possible, and in an era with giant screaming birds on the hood, this is a real standout. It was repainted in a correct shade of bright red and a full professional buff-and-wax would really bring out the shine that much more and give it a fantastic look. There's already a movement afoot to preserve and celebrate these trucks, so they didn't modify or change any of the details; why would you on something that's already so custom-looking? It hasn't been damaged or rusty, so the repaint simply erased several decades of use, and although certainly not perfect, today it looks just as eye-catching as it did when it first hit the streets. That's real oak in the bed and outside on the sides, although it's not structural, merely decorative, and all of it is in great shape, too. There's also plenty of chrome, including the aforementioned exhaust stacks, plus new heavy-duty bumpers and a grille with stacked headlights that were new for 1979.
You had a surprising number of choices inside, with this truck getting the most uniform: a red bench seat with matching door panels, dash, and carpet. The Express was loaded and was the most expensive truck in Chrysler showrooms in 1979, and this one includes fully functional A/C that uses upgraded R134a refrigerant inside. The interior has been mostly restored and still looks pretty fresh today, including a nicely wrapped vinyl seat, a set of reproduction door panels that look right at home, a crack-free dash, and plush carpets that only show very minor use. You do get a fairly comprehensive set of gauges inside a restored bezel, as well as an AM/FM/Cassette radio that still sounds pretty good. All that vivid red inside gives the Dodge a sporty demeanor and keeps it from seeming too serious and you'll probably find it's easy to get comfortable in this 40-year-old hauler.
There was plenty of muscle on tap when you bought a Lil' Red Express, thanks to a strong-running 360 that was not necessarily burdened by the same pollution controls that strangled the muscle cars. The 360 cubic inch V8 was upgraded by the factory with a cam from a 1968 340, heavy-duty valve train, a police-spec intake manifold and a full roller timing chain. It's still quite stock, although the carburetor was replaced with an Edelbrock 600CFM 4-barrel, and the performance may still surprise you, even today. The chrome dual snorkel air cleaner was also part of the package, and it's dressed pretty much the way the factory did it, right down to the original decal on the lid. It's tidy and shows signs of routine maintenance, but no modifications outside the carb and A/C compressor, which suggests it's always been treated well. A heavy-duty TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic was the only transmission available, and it spins 3.55 gears out back, so it feels punchy around town but cruises easily on the highway. Obviously dual exhaust was standard, and this truck also carries dual Glasspack-style mufflers for a little added punch. Cool Cragar wheels with fat 275/60/15 Mastercraft white-letter radials complete the ideal '70s look.
Lots of fun and sure to be a hotter collectable once everyone gets their Trans Am fix, this Dodge Lil' Red Express is ready to play. Call now!