The stacks on today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe D150 are functional and those aren’t even the most notable features of the Lil’ Red Express package. Let’s see if this restored pickup has a price that makes it worth breaking out stacks of cash.
Honda’s original S-series, the 500/600/800 of the ‘60s, never made their way to America. As legend has it, the company tested the car for U.S. consumption in San Francisco and found it stymied by the demands of the city’s hilly streets. At that point they abandoned plans for a U.S. edition.
That would not be a problem faced by the model’s spiritual successor, the S2000, which did make its way State-side. Steep streets would be even less of a challenge with last Friday’s LS3-swapped 2003 S2000 as it rocked a torque to pounds ratio that would likely treat any acute-angled road as though it were the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The only major challenge that the car faced in fact, was its $19,000 price tag. Fully 74 percent of you said nay-nay to that, dunning the car and its swap with a non-transferable Crack Pipe loss.
Can you imagine a world in which the fastest accelerating vehicle sold in the country is a pickup truck? Now imagine that the pickup truck in question had just 225 horsepower on tap. Yes, the automotive world of the 1970s was truly a sad time.
It was Car and Driver that claimed the special edition Dodge Li’l Red Express to be the fastest accelerating vehicle they tested in 1978. It achieved that honor by way of some pretty inventive parts bin swapping that gave its 360 V8 engine five more ponies than even the competing Corvette could muster.
The Li’l Red Express first joined Dodge’s lineup of “Adult Toys” (yeah, eww) in 1978. With performance at a low point in the auto industry owing to emissions and fuel economy demands, the folks at Mopar decided to play with what they had on hand, and cash in on the emerging truck scene. That would trickle into Hollywood in the 1980 film, Urban Cowboy.
Dodge fitted the Li’l Red Express with a stepside bed, special paint and wood trim, and tacky as hell olde west style branding on the doors and tailgate. Functional exhaust stacks popping through the forward bed steps completed the model’s visual cues.
There was a lot of go to accompany the show too. As noted, the 360 under the hood maxed out at 225 horses. It made those with a number of off-the-shelf parts including an 850 CFM Carter 4BBL and a camshaft that was originally used in a performance 360 from a decade earlier. E-58 police-spec heads and performance mufflers completed the package.
A loophole in the Federal emissions laws allowed the trucks to run without cats and hence drink forbidden leaded fuel. A high-performance 727 transmission was the only option behind the mill, and it only came in 2WD. A 3.55/1 limited-slip diff did help when the going got smooth.
The seller of this Li’l Red Express makes two claims about it. The first is that it has been nut and bolt restored, and that one seems validated by the pics. The truck looks to be in excellent shape, and aside from some wonky electrical tape wiring loom work under the hood, it seems well sorted and correctly done. The Edelbrock air cleaner and valve covers are obvious deviations from stock, but seem solid choices.
The other claim made by the seller is that this is a 1979 model, which… well, seems untrue based on the same set of snaps in the ad. The Li’l Red Express was built for two model years, 1978 and ’79, and there are a number of major changes made between the first and second year. The ‘78s models all had round 7-inch headlamps and the notable lack of cats. The ‘79s had stacked quad lamps and a pair of cats requiring unleaded for their feeding.
This one looks like a ’78 as the ad notes the first year nose was switched out by a previous owner. Whether the car comes with the proper exhaust goes unexplained. Another change between ’78 and ’79 was a switch to the federally-mandated 85 MPH speedo, which I would advocate changing since having to stare at while driving the truck would piss me off no end.
Speaking of driving, this Li’l Red Express is claimed to run and drive as new. The title is clean and with only about 7,300 built, you won’t see yourself on every corner in this classic.
That being said, this is a truck from a particular era, and it’s emblematic of that era in ways that few other vehicles can claim. With that in mind, it’s now time to weigh both its presentation, and it’s $21,900 asking price.
What do you say, could this Li’l Red Express ask that much? Or, is this an “Adult Toy” that you wouldn’t toy with anywhere near that price?
H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!
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