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The Dodge Lil Red Express – History and CollectabilityPosted On February 3, 2016
Dodge fans know what lengths the company is willing to travel conceptually through to design and development of their vehicle lineup – with many marvels to mark their successes in the past – from the original Dodge Challenger straight through to the modern Charger equipped with the amazing 6.2-litre Supercharged HEMI V8 offering drivers a preposterous 707 horsepower. The point we’re trying to drive home here is: Dodge makes great vehicles and some of them happen to be remembered so fondly that their legacy lives strong well into the present.
With this, somewhat lengthy introduction, let’s get down to the task at hand today and explore one of the gems from the past – The Lil’ Red Express.
Starting off strong – we have to remind that due to various financial issues in the world and in the domestic market vehicle sales were at an all-time low and Dodge needed to step up their game to draw attention. Here enters the 1979 Dodge Little Red Express – a truck that was so well developed that at the time of its release was the fastest American vehicle produced in the late ‘70s.
Often called “the last American Hot Rod” – Dodge released the ’79 model in ’78 and was equipped with a special High Performance 360 cubic inch 4-barrel small block engine that had been modified from the line of police vehicles – now, what could it do you might ask – well, we’re being a little cheeky but it could do a lot!
Producing 225 horsepower, the Little Red Express had hemispherical-style mufflers with crossover pipe that set up the exhaust through two towering chrome stacks located on either side of the cabin. All of the Little Red Express vehicles produced came with standard automatic transmission and had an impressive interior full with bench seat with either black or red colouring.
In total – there were approximately 5,118 Little Red Express’ produced with the vehicle line only lasting two years before it was shelved eventually being replaced by such models as the Dakota and, by legacy, the RAM 1500. Still, nostalgia is a difficult bug to fight and in 1992 Dodge revisited the Little Red Express with the Li’l Red Express Dakota model constructed by L.E.R. Industries in Michigan. The Li’l Red Express was meant to resemble its predecessor and was based on the Dodge D-Series, adding a classic look as well as dual vertical exhaust pipes just behind the cabin – these, unlike the previous model were entirely cosmetic – despite this, some resourceful fans of the original were able to alter the exhaust pipes to make them work properly.
Sales did not live up to the hype, though, and that would be the final year for them.