62K Miles and Stack Pipes: 1979 Dodge Lil’ Red Express

This Dodge Lil’ Red Express Truck is a 1979 model with the square headlight grill and a catalytic converter. The truck shows under 70,000 original miles and looks quite clean underneath, as does the vulnerable wood-slat bed. The truck sports some minor deviations from stock, such as the Cragar wheels, but is otherwise a largely untouched example. While Mopar enthusiasts may prefer the quicker ’78 models, just finding one that has been preserved and not overly modified can be a challenge. Find this ’79 model here on eBay with bidding at $13,700 and the reserve unmet.

In retrospect, it’s rather amazing just how “custom” this truck was when leaving the factory. The wood bed sides, wooden slats inside the bed, exhaust stacks, and custom logos and pinstriping all combine to make production of one of these a mult-step process. Fortunately, the wooden materials have survived quite well, as these are usually in need of replacement for any trucks that have been neglected in the past. All of the chrome pieces look good, too, such as the aforementioned stacks, bumpers, and brightwork around the windows and grill.

The bed looks way better than expected, even if it appears somewhat tired in appearance. Most of these are in need of total replacement if the truck hasn’t been kept in a garage or museum exhibit since new, so finding an intact wood bed in a Lil’ Red Express that was clearly used from time to time is a treat. The paint inside the bed looks quite nice as well, speaking to a series of owners who didn’t haul too much with their limited-production performance truck. Speaking of which, the seller notes the Dodge has has three owners since new.

Under the hood, you’ll find a claimed smooth-running 360 V8 and Thermoquad four-barrel carburetor. Unfortunately for the second run of the Express, Dodge was forced to add a catalytic converter and drop the top speed on the gauge cluster down to 85 m.p.h. (and increased the production volume, too!) While the ’78  may have been one of the fastest trucks Car & Driver magazine had tested at the time, that changed the following year. Still, the appeal of one of these is not necessarily the performance, but the appearance – and this 1979 model has clearly been loved since new.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    I’m torn: I’m a Mopar fan (I can already here the groans and see the eye rolling..!😆) and it’s a truck but therein lies the issue-it’s a truck. I don’t know anyone that would use this as most of us use trucks because it’s so…pretty! Terrific deal for someone wanting a boulevard/drive-in cruiser, but if you want a truck to use as a truck buy you’d be better off buying something else that won’t make you wince the first time another car dings your door or something heavy gets dropped in the bed and marrs that nicely varnished bed floor.
    Very well kept, all three previous owners apparently treated it well and drove it as just a show truck.

    Like 10
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    As was noted, it’s more a toy than a truck. I looked at a 78 but having just bought a try a little over a year before I would have taken too much of a beating trading it in so didn’t look any further. Looks good but I use my trucks, and don’t have room for another toy.

    Like 1
  3. Arthell64 Member

    I owned a little red a few years ago and I used it all of the time. I was surprised how well the truck drove. A nice set of the original wheels can get pricey but looks like a solid truck. I would buy another one.

    Like 4
    • Todd

      The Cragars, even though not factory, are definitely a period correct modification and probably don’t hurt the value. And the factory wheels were WAY ugly! Lol

      Like 11
  4. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Nice clean example of a very cool pickup. Looks like it only needs some refinishing of the wood bits, something the next owner should consider to make it look better and to preserve the original material. Not a big fan of Cragers; they were certainly popular back in the day but I never cared for them because everybody and his mother had them; they were just too common. I preferred chrome smoothies with baby moon hubcaps. I like the original wheels these came with, they were a good look on these trucks. This is a nice one, it should bring good money when the bidding is done.

    Like 2
  5. Michael

    I had a 1978 back in the day. My 78 has a rare 383 that were left overs that Chrysler was trying to dispose of. I found out there were only about 200 of them. The truck was very fast indeed. The 78’s stacks worked. The 79’s stacks were for show. The other issue was. The one I had, had a cap on it. With the powerful engine in it when the cap was off, and you tried to step on it. There was no traction. The tires just smoked.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      the stacks are funcional on the ’79s as well

  6. Michael

    I had a 1978 back in the day. My 78 has a rare 383 that were left overs that Chrysler was trying to dispose of. I found out there were only about 200 of them. The truck was very fast indeed. The 78’s stacks worked. The 79’s stacks were for show. The other issue was. The one I had, had a cap on it. With the powerful engine in it when the cap was off, and you tried to step on it. There was no traction. The tires just smoked, and I don’t mean cigarette s.

    Like 2
  7. Del

    These continue to appreciate at a good rate.

    The top condition examples are closing in on 30 grand òr more.

    This is a nice one with reserve unmet

    Like 1
  8. Troy s

    Seems like I see more of these either for sale or on the road more than ever before…
    I like the step side and cop motor but not the flash. I know, I remember the era. Haha.

  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Dec 13, 2019 , 2:37PM
    Current bid:US $15,900.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 67 bids ]

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