These 3 Dodge trucks were everything goofy and great about the ’70s

Have you ever tried counting the stars in the sky? Have you tried to number the grains of sand on the beach? Have you tried to figure out exactly how many trim levels are offered on a RAM 1500 truck? All of those things are utterly inscrutable to human beings. With the exception of the Ram TRX (and whenever the first Hellcat-powered pickup variant comes out), most trim levels of modern Mopar trucks aren’t really that different from each other. They just offer different grains of leather interior on which to spill your Diet Mountain Dew.

That wasn’t always the case. In the 1970s, Dodge seemingly sought information from the illustrations on fireworks packaging and produced a lineup of trucks that makes the Ford Raptor look like a work truck. Enter the Dodge Warlock, Li’l Red Express, and The Dude.

1977-1979 Dodge Warlock

1976 Dodge D-100 Warlock press photo
1976 Dodge D-100 Warlock FCA

The Warlock was a variant of the D100 truck. And although Saruman the White is technically a wizard and never (officially) an employee of Chrysler, I’m sure he had a hand in the Warlock’s creation.  The world could only handle three short model years with the Warlock. Aside from saying “WARLOCK” on the back wooden tailgate, the Warlock was adorned with all manner of pin striping and wooden slats around the bed.

For 1979, the tailgate said “WARLOCK II” and Chrysler never explained why. Did the previous warlock on staff get fired? As for value, a #3-condition (Good) Warlock has an average value of $14,000. I don’t know the conversion rate for Middle-Earth currency but I’m sure it’s close enough.

The Warlock came in several engine flavors, including a 225-cu-in slant-six with 110 hp, a 318-cu-in V-8 with 145 hp, and a 360-cu-in V-8 with 160 hp. But there were other less common variants, including the rarely equipped 440-cu-in big-block V-8.

1978-1979 Li’l Red Express

1979 Dodge Li'l Red Express 3/4 passenger
1979 Dodge Li'l Red Express Mecum

For the truck fans that aren’t involved in the dark arts, Dodge had a Ram for people who liked the color red as much as they hated properly-placed apostrophes. Much like the Warlock, the Li’l Red Express was a heavily customized Dodge Ram D100. This truck was equipped with a 360 V-8 essentially ripped from a police car and had big ol’ exhaust stacks coming out from behind the cab. Thanks to a soon-closed emissions loophole for trucks, the Li’l Red Express was not equipped with a catalytic converter, making it an acceptable Bluesmobile and also one of the top performing vehicles of the era. Because this was the late 1970s, Dodge was legally required to cover the Li’l Red Express in enough pinstriping to make Von Dutch blush.  

1970-1971 Dodge Dude

1970 Dodge D-100 Dude advertisment
1970 Dodge D-100 Dude FCA

In the early ’70s, Dodge had enough o’ them city-folk and their fancy custom trucks I reckon and offered the Dodge Dude to any cattle rustler who could get to a Dodge dealership. Like the other custom Dodge trucks of the era, the Dude was really just a goofy paint scheme. What made the Dude unique was the fact that it said “DUDE” on the sides of the bed and had an image of the cowboy hat printed on it.

If anyone went into a RAM dealership today and asked for a custom cowboy hat trim, they would be escorted out by police. Dudes don’t go for sale that often so auction listings are a little hard to find but according to our data, they’re up to a $3000 premium on a regular D100 from the time.

While newer RAM trucks are obviously safer, faster and more fuel-efficient than their older brothers from the ‘70s, they lack a certain creative “charm.” While I doubt the 2019 RAM 1500 Warlock III will be a reality, I can’t help but hope.

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