In the 1960s, the muscle car trend was extreme. It doesn’t matter how much fuel the car uses or how severe the emissions are. If he has power, he would get others’ wishes. The 1970s changed all that with oil embargoes that raised gasoline prices and government regulations on emissions.
People back then thought the odds would spell the end of the muscle car, and for the most part, they were right. Dodge Philippines, the black sheep of the three major Detroit automakers, has found a way to create a truck that masquerades as a muscle car. Check out 10 things everyone forgets about the Dodge Lil Red Express, source:
7,306 trucks produced in total
Today, Ram Trucks would go bankrupt if they only produced a small number of trucks. In fact, Dodge is seeing sales numbers hit the mid-100,000s…and that’s quarterly. In 1978 and 1979, Dodge trucks had no demand for later models, so sales were much lower. Only 7,306 produced trucks over the course of two years, of which only 2,188 in the first year of assembly. This means that there are very few 78s available with modified V-8s simply because people don’t believe in a truck that can outrun the Corvette in a straight drag race until it’s too late.
1979 model sitting on unsold car lot
The excitement of the Dodge Lil Red Express in 1978 continued into the 1979 model year, but the loophole caused by emissions regulations was closed for all cars and trucks in the 1979 model year. This means the truck would no longer be sold without the catalytic converter that impedes the power, sound and performance of the Lil Red Express. As a result of this change and the direction of the world, the appeal of the muscle car built as a truck began to wane. Parking lots around the country can be found with a 1979 Dodge Lil Red Express van parked in the back of the row. Sales plummeted and the former King of the Hill became a thing of the past, which was no longer expected and failed to sell on many lots.
Faster than the Corvette of 1978!
You would never think that a truck could outperform a Chevy Corvette, especially since the ‘Vette is widely regarded as one of the best American cars to own. In 1978, the Corvette had a great run of the day. It can spin 0-60 in 7.8 seconds and complete a quarter mile in 16.1 seconds. Not too bad compared to 1978. The 1978 Dodge Little Red Express was built with speed and performance in mind, replacing the muscle cars many admired.
Considering the technology available at the time, this truck had an extraordinary track time. From 0-60, the truck can go a quarter mile in about 15 seconds and hit 60 from a stop in 6.7 seconds. On the straight, Lil Red Express consistently outperforms the Corvette.
The real name is the red pickup truck
The Dodge muscle truck is to give muscle car enthusiasts an option in an age of new emissions policies. The public immediately named the truck the Dodge Lil Red Express due to the prominent decals on each door. The name has stuck together when it was introduced, even to this day. Thing is, that wasn’t the name Dodge gave it back then. The actual name of the muscle truck is simply Dodge Lil Red Truck, which many people don’t even know about.
Government loopholes allow production
In 1966, the California government established the first set of emissions regulations. As a result, all products and models rolling off the assembly line will have to meet their standards or not be allowed to sell as-is. Emission protocols were born, but there was one flaw that few people noticed until Dodge Lil Red Express hit the market.
The government has provided the additional power needed for trucks that can carry more than 6,000 GVWs. That means most of time there is no need that catalytic converters are on these trucks, including the Dodge D100, which is rated up to 6,100 GVW. Dodge engineers and designers believe the truck could be used as a muscle car option after experimenting with the engine and powertrain to make it competitive.
Limited slip shaft built for speed
Most of the time, the rear axle of a truck is for towing and towing. After all, it’s one of the main reasons consumers buy trucks. They are for work and play, not necessarily racing as the shafts are not designed for that. Dodge Lil Red Express is different. The team designed it and manufactured with a limited-slip axle that would normally never go under the truck’s trunk. Back in the days when muscle cars were popular, early swap builders would build rear axles and gears mounted on them.
The 1979 model comes with a catalytic converter
The 1978 Lil Red Express was an exceptional success as it was to bypass emissions rules so that we can achieve maximum engine power without any restrictions. Restrictions such as catalytic converters had on trucks in 1979. One of the reasons trucks lost all demand, among other reasons. But, once the modified truck fit the guidelines set out by the government, it changed the landscape of muscle cars, or muscle trucks, in this case, forever.
The interior environment
In the 20th century, finding a truck without a front seat would be difficult. The Dodge Lil Red Express is no exception unless the buyer chooses to create a cockpit like no other. The basic-removable bench seat can fit with a nice set of bucket seats. The steering wheel is smaller than the average optimized truck wheel and the gauges so the driver can see the instrument cluster at a glance. It’s an interior-gear for muscle car enthusiasts who want the feeling of hugging their seats and watching speed accelerate as they howl on the track.
360 police engine under the hood
One would think that a muscle truck, would have the biggest engine available. The idea crossed the minds of the engineers, but they ultimately decided to use a modified 360 police engine for the first year. It had engine changes that increased power from 160 hp to 225 hp. In its second production year, the engine lost some improvements due to emissions regulations, but it still had a police version of the 360 V-8 under the hood.
Save more gas than competitors
In the late 1970s, the average fuel consumption of a pickup truck was less than 10 mpg. The police version of the Dodge 360 found in the Lil Red Express provided the rider with all the power needed in a drag race, but when driven at medium speeds it managed to hit 13 mpg. . A car built for speed is a respectable number, especially since it’s a truck.