POWr Multi Slider

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning 1978 Dodge Lil' Red Express Truck



This is one of three posts featuring the late 1970's Dodge trucks from the 'Adult Toys' line that also featured the Warlock and Power Macho Wagon (the latter recently produced in Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment line for the TV show 'Simon & Simon').  Probably one of the best-known version is the Lil' Red Express Truck.



Click Here For Photo Gallery


The look of a big rig

Manufactured between 1978 and 1980, with the last year joining a revised front-end featured across the Dodge truck line, the Lil' Red Express truck emphasized cool and muscular at the same time, especially when gas prices were still looming high and big muscle cars have been gone for almost ten years, and if there was any muscle cars around you can surely bet they're power output is restricted thanks to catalytic converters. 


Click Here For Photo Gallery



Not so with truck and vans having spared the new EPA rules by not adopting catalytic converters, nor were they limited on the amount of output they can put out, so enter the muscle trucks (and vans) of the 1970's.  Despite facing bankruptcy, Chrysler went ahead and released the Lil' Red Express Truck.  Painted only in red with gold accents and badging on the doors, wood paneling inside and outside of the stepside bed, and oh those super-cool dual exhaust stacks; no other production truck has had them then and ever since!

Click Here For Photo Gallery


Aside from the exhaust stacks with that cool rumble, the other secret was the engine: A 360 C.C. Magnum V8 with Police motor modifications, good for 180 hp. through a 3-speed automatic.  Otherwise the truck was based on a standard D-150 with the Adventurer package.  Inside the dash was driver-oriented and had a sporty look, but lacked the tachometer and the floor shifter since no manual transmission was offered.  Rising gas prices and a pricey list of options short-lived the Lil' Red truck for only three years.


Hot Wheels Variations

Hot Wheels released their version in 2012 to much acclaimed praise for it's stock look and regular-sized wheels (it was usually the other away around when it comes to Hot Wheels), and starting it off in red paint with proper gold trimmings was the way to go.  I would've liked to see more detail in the rear and a slight rake in the rear axle since the actual trucks had a raked look to them.

Click Here For Photo Gallery



Next up was purple, which turned-off a lot of perfectionist who prefer a casting stick to only one true color (same deal with the Buick Grand National), yet it allowed those who didn't get the red one to finally obtain one.  My version has an odd error where the DODGE letters that were on the hood wound up on the front passenger-side panel just above the Adventurer name.

Click Here For Photo Gallery



After a year off, the truck comes back for 2014 in the Wal-Mart-only Road Trippin' series, and boy does it look amazing!  The blue with flower tampos are nice, but the real cool features is the gold wheels (mimicking the Warlock version) and the detailed bed and taillights that we wished was on the 2012 versions

Click Here For Photo Gallery



...But Johnny Lightning was first

Years before the Hot Wheels version, Johnny Lightning made one out of a ten-car new series called 'Truckin' America', Johnny's first foray into the truck world, in 1997.  This was a version I found a few years later with a cool metallic dark red paint, proper detailing all the way around, and the proper racked rear look with rubber tires.  It makes the Hot Wheels version seem plain-looking!  The hood opens up to reveal the engine detailing and the interior detailing is sub-par.  The bed has mounting holes for the tonneau cover that occasionally appeared in a few releases.  The only downside is the casting is based on the transition period when Johnny Lightning went from making cars out of Topper slot cars to actually making castings on their own, even though they were far from making them 100% accurate in detailing; the Lil' Red Express was one of the few that managed to pull it off nicely.


Click Here For Photo Gallery

No comments:

Post a Comment