Dodge's original Li'l Red Express trucks are now in their early 30s, and even building a clone will be an exercise in rust mitigation and parts scavenging. By the time you're done, you'll have spent enough to buy a brand new Ram. Mopar high-performance icon Mr. Norm's is doing what Chrysler can't currently manage, reviving the spirit of the original with a fully modern Red XPress Truck, using the excellent new Ram as a basis. The name has been tweaked and there's no fat-fendered bed, but the general idea is the same.

1978 Dodge Li'L Red ExpressChrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi is the standard fitment, and with 380 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque, it makes a good argument. Alternatively, 6.1 liters of SRT crate Hemi will give you about 450 hp, and then there's the 426 cubic inch version of the SRT engine, which Mr. Norm's modified with forged internals and more stroke. Thus tweaked, the 426 nets you about 600 hp, nearly triple the 225 hp kicked out by the police-spec 360 in the original.

Appearance is obviously also part of the package, and there are graphics on the doors reminiscent of the original, as well as homage-paying exhaust stacks as part of the list of optional upgrades, – all of which we could see ourselves buying. Starting at an estimated $3,599 for the base Red XPress Truck, the price of entry sounds entirely reasonable, though lowering the ride height, bumping up to the biggest engine and its Tremec/Dana 60 combo will probably inflate the price as much as it inflates the performance. No word on whether it comes with a C.B. radio and a huge whip for booming into the next county with your next Tx.

[Source: Pickuptrucks.com]