This truck had been trapped in a garage in a suburb of western Chicago for about five years after a downed tree cut off access to the garage. We dragged away the tree, rolled the truck out of the garage, and gave it a once over. The truck looked great, original wood and decals were perfectly intact and the frame did not show any significant corrosion. We purchased the truck from the family of the gentleman who had owned it since the early 1980s, who were happy to free up some now-accessible garage space.
We rolled the truck onto a trailer and brought it over to the shop. We cleaned the ignition points and put some fresh gas in ‘er, and she fired right up.
We were so drawn to this truck because of the interesting history of the “Lil’ Red Express”…..in 1978 this was THE FASTEST AMERICAN PRODUCTION VEHICLE FROM 0-100 MPH as tested by Car and Driver. An amazing feat for a vehicle, let alone a pickup truck, with aerodynamics not much better than that of a refrigerator. Because of a loophole in emissions regulations, the 1978 Dodge Lil’ Red Express Trucks did not have catalytic converters. What they did have was a special High Performance 360 C.I. 4-barrel small block (EH1), which was a modified version of the 360 police engine (E58) producing 225 horsepower @ 3800 RPM. The package also included Hemi style mufflers with a crossover pipe breathing through two chrome stacks located behind the cab, a special 727 transmission, and 3.55:1 rear gearing.
We sold the truck to an enthusiast who loves the truck dearly and is in the process of restoring it to its original condition.