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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 Wagon."

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 maintenance.

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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