Little Red Wagon Article
From Hemi by A. Young
Included here is one of the first magazine articles published that featured the Little
Red Wagon. What's interesting about this article is that it makes no mention of the
wheelstanding (because it hadn't happened yet) and it says nothing about Bill "The
Maverick" Golden. At the point in time when this article was written, Chrysler was
still playing with this truck before releasing it to an outside party (Bill "The
Maverick" Golden) for campaigning on the drag race circuit.
From Cars, The Automotive Magazine, February `65 article, pages 25-28. Author not
listed. All images from article unless otherwise specified.
The wildly enthusiastic thousands who poured into Cecil County Dragoway, Bayview,
Maryland, to witness CARS Magazine's All-Star Super/Stock Invitational meet were
trreated to a big bonus. For Dodge Division of Chrysler Corporation chose our meet to
introduce its latest drag racing conversation piece, which it calls the "Little Red
This new rip snorter is packaged in a 90-inch wheelbase Dodge A-100 compact pickup that
looks innocuous enough from a distance. But get close enough to give it a good
once-over and you get the distinct impression that this compact isn't what it looked to
be! The primary reason for this is a rear mounted 426 cu. In. Hemi Charger
engine located just behind the snub-nosed cab, just in front of the rear wheels. To
accommodate the big V8, a 33 1/2 -inch wide by 19-inch deep hole was carved out of the
rear of the cab and a similarly sized hole was torched into the floor of the pickup
bed. Thus, part of the mill extends forward into the cab right behind the hinged
seats, putting engine location 20 inches behind that of a stock A-100 mill with a
resultant weight distribution of 48 percent front, 52 percent rear, against the stock
A-100's 58/42 figures.
Because the truck is short and the Hemi is big, the rear wheels are driven directly via
a universal joint and coupling between the rear end and Hemi-Charger Torqueflite.
Jim Schaeffer, who has co-owned a number of `29 BB/A roadsters, and John Collier, a
relative newcomer to drag racing, built this unique go getter. Then they turned the
final honing procedures over to Dick Branstner and Roger Lindamood, current NHRA
National champs with their "Color Me Gone" Dodge.
To Beef up the unibody truck, Schaffer and Collier put together a 75 inch long, 36 inch
wide subframe to house engine, transmission, and rear axle. Welded steel tubing three
inches deep by two inches wide and having .110 inch wall thickness was used. Engine
mounts and transmission support members measure 1 1/2 X 1 1/2 inches. With this
subframe arrangement the entire drivetrain may be easily slipped in and out for
Standard 13 inch wheels gave way to 15-inchers carrying 7.10 X 15 shoes up front and 10
X 15 M&H slicks at the rear. About an inch of body metal along the bottom of each rear
wheel well and the 1/4 -inch flanges rimming the wells were bent back to accommodate
the big slicks. Stock binders are supplemented by a 16-foot Deist ring slot chute.
To compensate for the 200-pound weight difference between a Hemi and the A-100's
standard 101 horsepower Six, Schaeffer and Collier put the "Little Red Wagon" on a
strict diet. Off came the front bumper and brackets, the heater, dash panel,
windshield wipers and washers, all wiring but for ignition, the hand brake, horns, 12
pounds of door glass and seven pounds of rear cab glass (replaced by plexi), mufflers
and pipes, one seat, the stock engine cover, all interior trim, the spare wheel and
tire and about 75 pounds worth of body sealer and rubber door sealing.
Rear springs were abandoned in favor of an unsprung, solidly-mounted axle. Result was
a reduction from 2,886 pounds to a ready-to-race weight of 2,671 pounds. Fiberglass
doors on order should chop another 30 pounds off the front end, and the 30 pound
battery was relocated to the right rear corner of the bed. When run for the first time
at the CARS meet, the Wagon was powered by a right-out-of-the-crate Hemi without the
benefit of blueprinting, etc. Yet it turned consistently in the mid-11's at close to
120 mph. Ramcharger Jim Thornton made one run in the little bomb and dialed his way to
a very creditable 11.2-second ET.
As the Wagon was due for a patented Ramcharger's race-readying right after its
appearance at our Cecil County Dragoway get-together, there's no doubt that it will be
turning in the mid-10s with terminal speeds in the 130 mph bracket by the time you read
this, making "Little Red Wagon" quite a remarkable piece of engineering innovation!
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