It’s 1965 and you’re in the grandstands at the Grand American race in Long Beach. Heat is kicking off the asphalt and sun is burning into your retinas. You hold a newspaper over your eyes to block the glare. What the hell is that coming up to the starting line? It looks like a midget delivery truck, red and covered with decals. Is it here to collect debris?
You can’t believe what you’re seeing. This little red wagon wants to race! The lights go green and the driver stomps on the accelerator. BOOM! The little red wagon blasts off the starting line with its nose in the air, full wheely. That wheely sure as hell isn’t slowing it down. It rips through the quarter mile in 11 seconds at 120 mph. You’re on your feet. You’re roaring. You can’t wait to see the little red wagon line’em up again.
You weren’t the only one to get jacked-up about the little guy that day. The Little Red Wagon gave birth to the wheelstanding era. It said (bleep) you to I think I can, I think I can and became an instant hot rod classic.
Why and how?
The 60’s were a time of extreme experimentation for drag racing. Chrysler wanted to sell more pick-ups and saw a chance for symbiosis. Using the A100 model as a jumping off point Jim Schaffer and John Collier made the adjustments needed to fit a 426 HEMI in the bed just behind the cabin.
They wanted a fast truck. The fact that they ended up with a wheely popping red devil was just a happy accident. One they didn’t discover until legendary driver Bill “Maverick” Golden got behind the wheel to film a commercial. The Little Red Wagon gave him a two-wheel thrill ride. Maverick fabricated a brake system that let him steer while the wheels were high. He hit the the road starting in Long Beach.