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In 1972 the E.P.A. placed into effect new regulations requiring auto manufactures to reduce exhaust emissions. In the beginning these new regulations required little change to the basic engine design and thus it seemed it would have little effect on gas mileage and performance, but this soon changed.
By 1975 the writing was on the wall, poor gas milage and low horse power was driving american car sales downward, it seemed the E.P.A. was squeezing the life out of Detroit and if American auto makers were going to survive they were going to have to change marketing strategy.
Although car sales were down truck sales continued to hold their own. It seemed young adults who had grown up during the performance car era had now discovered high performance Truck'n. It was obvious to Dodge that this all new trend pointed in the direction Dodge Trucks marketing division needed to go.
1976 is recognized as the first year of the Adult Toy series, officially it wasn't until March of 1976 that R.H. Kline, head of Chryslers U.S. sales division, made the first announcement for immediate release of a new custom van from Dodge Truck. Calling it the Street Van.
Kline then went on to explain that the Street Van was only the first in a series of new customized vans and pickups that would be offered by Dodge.
Li'l Red Express Truck.
With the great success of Dodge Trucks Adult Toys well underway, Dodge marketing soon found its self giving consideration to another all new concept.
Based on the Dodge Warlock this new truck would be designed as a high performance pickup, an all factory muscle truck aimed at pleasing the performance enthusiast.
At its beginning the project was know as the "Red Warlock Project" but by the time Dodge Trucks announced its release to the automotive press it had been labeled "The Last American Hot Rod", the hottest muscle truck to ever come out of Detroit.
Its name? The Li'l Red Express Truck. Tom Hoover, Dick Maxwell and Dave Koffel, three of Chrysler's top engineers working with the recently reorganized Product, Planning & Performance Group, began combining their efforts in developing the new truck.
Starting with a basic short wheelbase step side pickup the team installed a prepared 360 cubic inch V8 and a modified A-727 transmission with a 2500 stall converter.
Driving it's power to the ground through LR-60X15 Good Year tires hooked to a 3.55:1 Sure Grip rear gear and breathing through twin 2-1/2" vertical stacks, the Red Express proved to be the fastest American production vehicle build in 1978.
2,188 in 1978.
5,118 in 1979.
(source: Skip's Red Express Connection)
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