|Dodge L'il Red Express Truck
This truck was only produced for two years, 1978 and 1979. Due to a loophole in the regulations, the engine was not fitted with a
catalytic converter and other pollution equipment. It was one of the most eye-catching trucks ever built and was the fastest
American production vehicle in those two years, doing the quarter mile drag in under 14 seconds and almost 120 mph. It has
been called the ‘last American Hot Rod’, for good reason.
A good friend of mine owns one of these trucks and had an unopened AMT model kit of it. I convinced his wife that I would take
the kit and build a model of his truck and present it as a birthday gift to him. I managed to sneak a few photos of his truck and
that's when the fun began.
The truck owned by my friend is a 1979 version, whereas the kit is a 1978 version. The most noticeable changes on the 1979
- a new flat hood
- double rectangular headlights
- raised white letter tires on 8 inch chrome wheels
In addition, there were a number of inaccuracies and problems in the kit:
- the engine wasn’t even close to being accurate (I read somewhere that it was actually a Chevy engine that AMT put into the kit)
- the model kit had a spare tire under the rear bed and the real truck didn’t have a spare (at least the 1978 model)
- the interior had a floor stick shift and his truck is an automatic with the gear shift on the steering stalk
- the top part of the rear bed was not accurate and should have had a rolled edge
- the vertical exhaust pipes were not well detailed
- the mirrors were large truck type mirrors mounted out from the body, whereas he had smaller mirrors mounted close to the body
- the rear taillights were round and the actual trucks only had rectangular lights
- the decals for the wood grain were very poorly done
I wonder if some of the resin makers would consider doing a 1979 grill, hood and maybe even vertical exhaust pipes???
I decided that I didn’t have the time and ability to correct all the problems to make and exact model of his truck, but did address
some of the issues. I wanted to do the wood grain on the rear bed and the sides. I picked up some Detail Master oak decal sheet
which looked as if it should do the job. However, the decals are transparent! I had to brush paint gloss white on the bed and
make matching white decals for the sides and tailgate. By placing the wood grain decals over the white, the effect was pretty good.
I did build the engine but ended up gluing the hood on because the model was mounted inside a display base and I didn’t want it
Base Kit(s): AMT L'il Red Express Truck (kit number 38248)
Finished: January 2008
- model was built basically out of the box as a curbside
- tailgate was detailed with door catches (sheet aluminum) chains (military model item) and some rivets (0.5 mm Scale Hardware
- Bare Metal Foil added around cab and runners on rear bed
- Rivet details on the wood grain were made from 0.8 mm (0.032”) diameter Scale Hardware stainless steel rivets
- Mirrors were removed from mounts and new mounts made of stainless steel
- Radio antenna made from guitar string and foiled styrene strip base
- Paint was Tamiya White Primer, Bright Red and Clear, all sprayed right from the can. The horizontal surfaces and the sides of
the cab were polished and waxed.
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