The Fastest American car of 1979, was a Truck [video]
By Zack Klapman
In 1978 and 79, the fastest vehicle made in the U.S., was a pickup truck: The Little Red Express. It was faster than a Trans Am or Corvette (of the same year), and it would even beat that elite foreign glamor model, the Ferrari 308, in a 1/4 mile. You could buy it at the dealership as you see it here: smoke stacks, decals, wood paneling. It’s a little silly looking, born from similarly-psychedelic minds that gave us the “screaming chicken” decal. The front is plain, the back looks like it was put together with the leftovers from a Furniture Warehouse bankruptcy. An abacus has more functions than the cab. But it was still faster than the coolest, sexiest, fastest-looking sports cars of the day.
It’s a piece of automotive history that I didn’t know about until this shoot, but this truck is fun. All that silly labeling and wood has a charm to it. Strange thoughts crept over me, “Maybe I should get a farm, live more simply, ya know?” No, I shouldn’t. But this truck has a little something special in it. It’s simple, interesting to look at, useful, and acceptably fast. The smoke stacks sound as sweet as they look. If you ever thought a Ford Lightning, Typhoon, Ram SRT-10, or GMC Syclone was cool, this is its roots. Jump to watch Mike Musto take it out, and explain how it came to be. And of course, burnouts.
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