There weren't too many exciting sports cars built in the late Seventies thanks to increasingly stringent emissions requirements, but a few performance vehicles did manage to get produced despite the horsepower-strangling legislation. One of those vehicles was the L'il Red Express Truck built by Dodge from 1978-1979. Easily recognized by its signature exhaust stacks protruding prominently from each side of the bed, the Little Red Truck featured a 360ci V8 and could run the 1/4 mile in 14.7 seconds. That doesn't seem particularly quick by today's standards, but L'il Red was actually the fastest American-produced vehicle built in 1978.
As a tribute to the original performance truck, legendary Mopar hot rodder Norm Kraus, better known as "Mr. Norm," has put together his own aftermarket package that will turn a 2009+ Dodge Ram into the L'il Red Express' bigger, more powerful grandson. Granted, the new version doesn't necessarily have the visual impact of the original, but some concessions were made to keep the the basic package relatively affordable. To convert the bed into a stepside and mount the exhaust on the outside, for instance, would have cost seriously big bucks.
So – how does the new one compare? Our friend Mike Levine over at PickupTrucks.com has the answer. Levine managed to wrangle a drive in Mr. Norm's Red Xpress Truck, as well as an all-original '79 with just 16k on the odometer. As you can imagine, Levine found that trucks have come a long way in thirty years, but he still appreciated the unique details that went the original. Check out his comparison here, or browse through the high-res gallery below.
Related GalleryMr. Norm's Red XPress Truck