What is the Lil’ Red Express?Last Updated August 4, 2019
The Lil’ Red Express is an emblem of a time long passed. Billed as the “Last American Hotrod," this Dodge truck was released on a quite limited scale from 1978 to 1979. It’s flashy red design with prominent exhaust stacks served as a signal at the time that this car was loud, fun, and rowdy, despite the modesty imposed onto car manufacturers by the oil embargo.
The environmental regulations at the time dictated that every car produced had to come equipped with a catalytic converter. That’s where the Lil’ Red Express came in. Since it was a truck, it circumvented the necessity for a catalytic converter. From there, Dodge designed a whole truck that was essentially a muscle car with a bed.
The Lil’ Red Express ran on a modified eight-cylinder 360 police engine that produced 225 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. More so than anything else, this truck is boisterous. At the time of its release, the Lil’ Red Express was the fastest American made production vehicle, which is part and parcel responsible for its enduring legacy.
A Mean Lil’ Machine
This truck was produced in rather limited numbers. It had two editions: The original 1978 edition and the updated 1979 edition which, unlike its predecessor, was outfitted with a catalytic converter, slightly lowering its performance. There were only 2,188 Lil’ Red Express trucks produced in 1978 and 5,118 produced in 1979, so, all in all, less than 10,000 Lil’ Red Express trucks have ever been made.
There are still a fair number of surviving Lil’ Red Express trucks out on the market today, however, usually being sold for around 20,000 to 30,000 dollars. Additionally, there are even Lil’ Red Express specific fan clubs and competitions that are running around today, and it is consequently a popular restoration target. Even though there still are muscle-y pickups on the market today like the Shelby F-150 Super Snake, the Dodge Lil’ Red Express captures both the fun of a fast car with the charm of a classic vehicle.
This bold red truck has become a cult classic. The Dodge Lil’ Red Express was a symbol of American muscle during a time marked by vehicular austerity and modesty.
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