Worth It? 1978 Dodge Lil Red Express

Our feature vehicle for this article is a Dodge Lil Red Express, and if my memory serves me, this might be the third one we’ve seen in the last two months. This 1978 model is listed for sale here on eBay. Located in Greeneville, Tennessee, it is being offered for sale with a clear title. The asking price for this truck is $18,000.

I’ve had a good look at all of the external shots of this truck, and the longer I look, the more work that I keep seeing. The body looks quite straight and free of rust. Then I look further and I see the amount of corrosion that is visible on the chrome trim, and it makes me start to wonder what is lurking in places unseen. Couple this with the fact that the scuttle panel and wipers are missing and a few alarm bells start to ring. The truck is quite straight, but there are a number of dings and scratches that are visible, and the original “Lil Red Truck” stickers are also badly faded. The timber-work is starting to show signs that it will need restoring. The wheels appear to be the factory originals, but they will also need a trip to the chrome-plater to bring them back to life.

There’s not a lot that we can tell about the interior, but it appears as though the leather upholstery on the seat is in good condition. Information is pretty scarce there, as it is with the condition of the drive-train. The seller states that the truck rumbles down the road, but that’s all we get. The engine should be the EH1 Code 360ci small-block which produced 225hp. When they were new, Car and Driver Magazine conducted acceleration tests, and the ’78 Lil Red was actually the fastest accelerating American made vehicle from 0-100mph.

A good ’78 Lil Red Express will set you back anywhere between $23,000 and $33,000, depending on condition and originality. This one is certainly original, but there is a fairly decent list of things that will need to be addressed to bring it up to scratch. None of these things are expensive within themselves, but when you start totaling up the invoices for wheel restoration, wood restoration, trim restoration, and replacement decals, the total starts to really get moving. If you could get the restoration done at a reasonable price, then this Lil Red Truck would make sense.

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Comments

  1. Mark

    Something about those missing wipers tells me this could be a repeat listing. And, they never drove this truck in the rain.

    Like 4
    • Jeff

      Wipers? It looks like it’s missing the entire cowl grill.

      Like 3
  2. Jeff

    Agreed. This thing is certainly restorable, but hardly a peach. Five grand, tops.

    Like 13
    • whmracer99

      Agreed. That and a truck with parts missing, lousy description, only 5 pics, and a seller with zero feedback would make me doubt they get anywhere close to what they’re asking.

      Like 3
  3. Troy s

    Never realized there were so many of these around still. I can’t help it but I’d have to ditch the verticle stacks and go with a modern high performance exhaust. Wouldn’t an exhaust like this that goes straight up actually hurt engine performance? Curious.

    Like 1
    • Dean

      Works for semi’s

      Like 5
    • mike D

      no, that is the way they were made…. might be a bit noisy in the cab, tho

  4. Kripp

    The saddest part of the article above, other than the asking price, is “’78 Lil Red was actually the fastest accelerating American made vehicle from 0-100mph.” The 70s were truly a dark time for US vehicle manufacturing.

    Like 5
  5. Don H

    This is the super rare one with the custom green front bumper😁

    Like 2
  6. Steve S

    Troy s getting rid of the stacks would ruin the look of the truck that is part of what made the truck

    Like 7
  7. Nate

    Never liked these trucks. I thought the whole ‘Lil theme was tacky. Maybe that’s why I wouldn’t give you $1800 for it in this condition, much less $18000. Ridiculous.

    Like 2
  8. mainlymuscle

    Worth it ? Not even close,mr. flipper.good ones can be had for less than 20.Show cars,in the 30’s ,which this one is $50k from being !

    Like 2
  9. mike D

    I like the 78s better, but the 79s get the publicity this sure hasn’t been babied and certainly not worth 18 K as it sits about all I’d change is put decent wheels and tires on it and drive as is

    Like 1
  10. CanuckCarGuy

    I like these little rigs, but would rather a Warlock…flashy, but a tad more subdued and seemingly less common.

    Like 1
  11. Del

    I agree. Price is ridiculous.

    My expert, who restored one says this worth only 5 to 7 grand

    Like 2
  12. Steve

    “Scuttle panel”? author must be a boat guy. LOL

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