Q: Hi Greg and thanks for your interesting articles in Truck Round-Up. I know somewhere in you travels you probably came across the "The Little Red Wagon." It was a famous wheelstanding drag machine and was available as a model kit, too.
I remember the Dodge D-100-A compact pickup with its 90-inch wheelbase as it toured the country back then on drag strips everywhere. I also remember the Hemi Under Glass and LA Dart Hemis, too.
Can you tell us more about this famous Dodge compact wheelstander pickup? Thank you very much. David D., Elmira, N.Y.
A: David, this is the second time since 2016 I’ve received a question on this famous wheelstanding Dodge pickup. And as for all those famous drag racing wheelstanders of the 1960s and 1970s, perhaps the best known of the bunch was indeed the 1965 “Little Red Wagon” driven by Bill “Maverick” Golden.
This wheelstander was followed closely by the 1966 Plymouth Barracuda “Hurst Hemi Under Glass,” thanks to George Hurst and third but not least, the 1969 LA Dart of “Wild Bill” Shrewsberry in a “candy cane” striped Dodge Dart.
All used Plymouth/Dodge 426 Hemi engines with either injection or supercharger, and were sponsored by regional Dodge or Plymouth dealers and Chrysler corporate.
The Hurst Hemi Under Glass was driven by Bob Riggle from Ohio and designed/built by another Ohio native in the aforementioned Shrewsberry, who carved his drag race and exhibition vehicle legacy prior to his personal LA Dart fame.
Riggle crashed the car in 2016 giving a test run to Jay Leno for his “Jay Leno’s Garage” TV Show. Both were OK after a rollover. This crash sequence is on YouTube for everyone to see.
The “Little Red Wagon,” rivaled the “Hemi Under Glass” as to popularity and as both boasted faithful followings. Thankfully, I’ve seen all of these great wheelstanders in person during my time, along with countless others I can’t mention due to space limitations.
Model car kits or die-cast of all three of the aforementioned wheelstanders are still available online or at hobby shops. I personally own a “Little Red Wagon” model kit.
With Chrysler Corporation fully behind or a secondary sponsor of these vehicles, Dodge took the Little Red Wagon’s popularity a step further when it introduced the “Little Red Express” short box D-150 pickup trucks available in 1978 and 1979. Although not capable of wheelies, these Little Red Express 360 V8 Dodge pickups still have a rabid following and have appreciated in value over the years. Overall, just 2,188 1978 models and 5,118 1979 Little Red Express pickups were ever built.
Today, everyone agrees the success of the Little Red Express is a direct result of Dodge sponsoring the Little Red Wagon and proven by Dodge using much footage of the Little Red Wagon in numerous TV commercials during the era. In ending, The Little Red Express lettering on the back of the vehicle says “Little Red Truck,” which I feel is valid proof as its relation to the “Little Red Wagon” success.
Thanks for the letter David as I receive more letters about Dodge drag racing machines than other makes and am happy to oblige.