The original Dodge Little (aka Li’l) Red Express is arguably one of the most famous pickups ever built in North America.

The 1970s was an era when brute force performance vehicles died a horrible death at the hands of overzealous government bureaucrats armed with a gasoline shortage to help fuel the new anti-muscle car legislation.

Jim Sutherland

The exception to the rule was the Dodge Little Red Express built from 1978-79 by the Mopar people. The truck was sold with a 360 small block that slipped by most of the restrictions simply because it was a truck. In fact, the ’78 Little Red had a free breathing 360 Police Interceptor that gave it plenty of horses during a sad era when most vehicles had small pony herds under their hoods. The 1979 version was subjected to a few extra government rules, but it was also a rocket on wheels that year.

Bruce Bouvet is the proud owner of a 1979 Dodge Little Red Express that looks like it just left the dealership. Even better, the truck tows a Little Red Express utility trailer custom-built to the exact specs of the box on Bruce’s Little Red Express.

It is a very cool combination that has turned Bruce’s limited edition Mopar muscle truck into a rock star at every show.

MyStarCollectorCar caught up with Bruce and his son Jim at a 2023 Mopar show in Calgary, Alberta Canada after they drove it from Vancouver Island to the event last summer. For the record, there is a chunk of ocean that separates Vancouver Island from British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, so Bruce, Jim, the Little Red Express and its trailer took the ferry to begin their 655-mile (1054 km) one way road trip.

The adventure required a trip via British Columbia’s Coquihalla Highway, a high- speed/high altitude freeway built so people could drive fast through the mountains. Both father and son agreed Bruce’s Little Red handled the fast pace like a champ, although plenty of gas was required along the way because the truck only averaged about 11 mpg.

The Little Red Express has a small 20-gallon gas tank, so Bruce and Jim had plenty of opportunities to stop and soak up the view provided by a long trip through the mountains along one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Bruce always wanted a Little Red Express, but his dad was not onside with the idea, so he was unable to purchase a brand-new model back in the day. However, Bruce never lost his fire for the iconic Mopar pickup and was able to buy his Little Red about 11 years ago.

The truck is an excellent example of a fully functional 1979 truck because even the 8-track player works in Bruce’s Little Red Express, so Bruce played golden oldie tunes along the way.

Bruce has assembled a very large supply of Little Red Express-related gear, including the emergency gas containers on the trailer-along with the trailer itself-a huge topic of conversation for curious onlookers at shows. 

But Bruce’s most valued Little Red Express possession is the time he has spent with his son Jim on the road in the wild Mopar pickup from a bygone era.                

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.