1979 Dodge Truck Information

by Rob Wagner

The 1979 model year for Dodge trucks was noteworthy not so much for its standard line of pickups, which were styled rather pedestrian compared to Ford and Chevrolet, but for Dodge’s line of “Adult Toys”—the Warlock, Macho, Midnite Express and L’il Red Truck—marketed to young men who like customized pickups.

The 1970s

Dodge seemed to have missed the memo that the 1973 and 1978 gasoline shortages meant trucks were to be downsized and power output reduced. Instead, Dodge offered the Club Cab in 1973 that has since become the standard among pickup truck cabs. The new extended cab allowed workers and families alike to store equipment and belongings inside to protect them from the weather. In 1974, the 440-cubic inch V-8 got a boost in horsepower to 235 horsepower for the two-wheel drive trucks. From 1975 through 1980, Dodge offered the D100 and D200 Utiline models (the D150 appeared in 1978) and the D100, D200 and D300 Sweptline trucks in standard, Club Cab and Crew Cab configurations, according to the Pickuptrucks website.

Mitsubishi Arrangement

Dodge partnered with the Japan-based Mitsubishi Motors to develop a compact pickup in 1979. The pickup helped the sales of Dodge pickups following the 1978 oil crisis when Dodge had a full stable of gas guzzling trucks and not much else. The Mitsubishi was initially badged as a Dodge D-50 and later Ram 50. It was equipped with either a 93-hp 2-liter 4-cylinder engine or the 105-hp 2.6-liter engine.

Adult Toys

By the 1970s, pickup truck owners customized their own trucks with extra tall and wide tires, body graphics and interior amenities. Chrysler recognized that a niche could be carved out in the truck market by developing customized trucks for young male buyers. In an effort to appeal to the testosterone-fueled buyer, the Warlock, Macho, Midnite Express and the L’il Red Express, also called the L’il Red Truck, were offered starting in 1976. The Macho didn’t make much of an impression, perhaps because buyers were not interested in identifying their trucks as “MACHO” with a big sign on the tailgate.

Appearance Package

The Warlock debuted in 1976 and was renamed Warlock II for 1979. The Warlock was known in Chrysler parlance as a “trick truck.” It was all show and just a little go. It featured "Warlock II" on the tailgate, rode on fat tires and custom rims, and was equipped with bucket seats. It also was equipped with oak sideboards on the cargo box. Under the hood were the usual Chrysler offerings: the slant 6-cylinder and 318-, 360-, 400- and 440-cubic inch V-8s.

All About Performance

The 1979 L’il Red Truck (the Midnite Express was the black version) was a different altogether. It started life as a half-ton D150 Utiline. It sat on a short 115-inch wheelbase and was powered by a modified police cruiser 225-horsepower 360-cubic inch V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor. Like the police cruiser version, the V-8 featured SuperFlow heads, a police cam, heavy duty valve springs, dual-snorkel air intake and upright dual exhausts behind the cab. A total of 5,118 units were sold in 1979.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.