Factory Muscle Truck: 1979 Dodge Lil’ Red Express

Dodge wasn’t making hemis in 1979 but the modified police-spec 360 cid V8 made the Dodge “Lil’ Red Express” one of the hottest vehicles going. Offered here on craigslist from Tampa, Florida, $2,500 takes it. I’m no truck expert, but post-smog-era muscle car values accrue daily, especially any special model like this. Instinct suggests anyone dropping $2500 on this truck won’t regret it, even if they just park it in their own barn for another 10 years untouched. If that’s crazy in the truck world, please comment below.

Thanks to Brian H. who spotted this Sunshine State special. This one-owner truck with clear title has rust in the cab corners and floor, aftermarket running boards, and what looks like a non-original rear bumper. Kudos to the seller for including details on missing parts and what comes with the truck, and extra credit for good spelling and use of mixed case.

A standard bench seat adorned the Lil’ Red Express, with bucket seats optional. Door panels appear crustified by the brutal Florida sun. A friend of a friend of mine had one of these in the mid-’80s, and it pulled pretty hard against most cars of that era. One time the owner complained about the gas mileage (when gas was about $1.25/gallon!) and my buddy said “You’d get better mileage if you could stay out of the secondaries!” Visit DodgeConnection.com for more information on these neat low-production trucks.

When many V8s choked up fewer than 200 horsepower, this S Code 360 made 225 horsepower, enough for bragging rights at the local burger joint… as long as that guy with the 396 Chevelle stayed home. The 3.55 ring & pinion ratio helped back up the performance image. This engine compartment looks fairly complete including the A/C compressor and dual-snorkel air cleaner housing. The missing radiator leaves us viewing the condenser only. Special models should most likely be restored to factory condition, though there’s at least one of these on the internet powered by a late-model Hemi. What’s this truck worth, and how would you like to see it put back on the road?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Kent

    Had one of these back in the day. The high performance 360 would smoke most anything stock on the road. Great truck, wish I hadn’t sold it.

  2. Tioguishe

    Dear BF,
    Now that you seem to be going in the same direction as the BaT folks, maybe is about time to implement a better “institutional memory” method of controlling repeated posts.
    A posting such this one, carries a history of price dropping and at least should be interesting to bring that info as part of the new posting and maybe the kudos to the seller are not that much of it … see the old posting
    http://barnfinds.com/needs-tailgate-barn-find-lil-red-express/
    And also, the ad has been deleted by the author …

  3. Don H

    If ya don’t like BF go to another sight buy buy.

    • Tioguishe

      What is that you want me to buy?

  4. Dean

    I do remember a local Dodge dealer buying D-100 or 150’s w/ slant six engines and selling them with the stacks and all the other Lil Red Express goodies. True exhaust pipe sticking out the rear end, looked damned silly. Might have called them Warlocks or some such thing

    • boxdin

      There were factory dodge Warlocks w 6 cyl engines.

  5. ROTAG999

    I had a 79 with the Black Buckets and jumpseat in the middle red interior is more rare. Mine had a different steering wheel like what came on a cuda 3 spoke. Would run low 15.40s at local drag strip just the like the magazines of the day ran also. Lots of torque for a 360 PI.

  6. DM DeLuka

    How do we know it’s a Li’l Red Express & not just a dealer installed look-a-like w/ stacks? No decals, wood on box, missing tailgate? Don’t believe ID# indicated that model. Warlocks were the same way. Thx

    • Todd Fitch Staff

      Hey DM – Great question, and I noticed the lack of wood on the bed sides, etc. I’m no expert but in researching this article I found this thread that indicates the “S” code was specific to the Lil’ Red Express. http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45062 Can anyone confirm?

      • robeffy

        Yes, since my wife has owned her Lil Red for nearly 20 years, we have done a lot of research.

        The factory used a unique serial number for ALL Lil Reds.

        All of them came with a 360 PI ( modified ) and 727 Modified trannies. A/C was ordered on roughly 15 trucks in the 2 years that they were offered.

        Dealers did stuff to them. We have seen lots of “home made” Lil Reds, and amazingly, about 10 with A/C.. What are the odds?

  7. ROTAG999

    Why Fake it @ this price right parts under the hood correct wheels looks legit to me as a previous owner of one. Dual Chrome snorkel air cleaners do come along everyday with ram air.

  8. Troy S.

    Seems like a fair price. 1979 was along time ago and the fact that some parts have replaced or repaired as needed doesn’t surprise me. Seems I have seen more of these on the road over the past few years than I ever saw back in the chevy land 80’s.

  9. C Carl

    I’d rather have lil red than the 3sp wagon. Being this rough I would only get it driving and let the next guy dream with his wallet wide open.

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