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Little Red Wagon: 1965 Dodge A100 can wheelstand with 425 hp Hemi

Bill “Maverick” Golden’s iconic truck borrows some off-road tricks while on the track.

The "Little Red Wagon" was made famous by racer Bill Golden. His 1965 Dodge A100 could be had from the factory with a 2.8L Slant-Six making 101 horses, or later, a 4.5L V-8. However, the stock engine is nowhere to be found in the truck. To accommodate his 425hp fuel-injected Hemi, there was work to be done. The engine had to be mounted 20 inches farther to the rear of the truck than the original engine sat, making it so that the powerplant lived in the truck's cargo compartment. To justify the weight increase from the gargantuan 7.0L Elephant Engine, weight reductions were in order elsewhere on the truck.

Shaving Weight From Little Red Wagon, the 1965 Dodge A100

At the time the Four Wheeler editors examined Little Red Wagon, the 1965 Dodge A100 build, and made comparisons to how off-road enthusiasts kept weight off their competition-bound Volkswagen buggies and 4x4s, which were considered heavy at 1,200 and 2,200 pounds, respectively. Parts that were retired to the scrap heap in the name of keeping Little Red Wagon sprightly included the front bumper and brackets, heater, dash panel, windshield wipers and washers, all stock electrical wiring save for the ignition, hand brake, horns, door and rear window glass, stock mufflers and piping, both factory bucket seats, engine trim, floor mats, spare tire and wheel, and 60 pounds of body sealer (among many other things).

Because of the forward-control nature of the 1965 Dodge A100 and the massive mill, Little Red Wagon had only a U-joint separating the transmission from the rear differential—and no driveshaft.

The formula of massive 10x15 racing slicks, weight distribution across the 90-inch wheelbase, and gut-wrenching power allowed Little Red Wagon to develop a habit for lifting its front end upon acceleration, often as high as 8 feet from the dragstrip. Although the display was spectacular for the drag racing scene of the 1960s, the author compared this tendency to how sand buggies normally performed when operating at full-bore on the dunes. Furthermore, the author wondered "just how well the Little Red Wagon would perform in the off-road community's 1/8-mile sand drags or hillclimbs.

For Another Looks Into The Past:

Wheelstands and Exhibition Racing for Little Red Wagon

As the 1965 Dodge A100's front tires continued to spend less time on the tarmac than the rear pair, Little Red Wagon became more of an exhibition racer than a competitor, regularly amazing onlookers with its performances. Higher-ups at Dodge even got wind of the machine, and the company had the truck appear in television advertisements. After a particularly nasty end-over-end crash, the original Little Red Wagon was retired, living on through model toys, in the memories of race fans, and as a mangled-yet-maintained relic in the collection of Mike Mantel, a famed drag racer.

To this day, the art of the wheelstand is practiced throughout the off-road community from mud trucks attacking a strip of slime to small 4x4s squaring up to a ledge climb. If you have a story involving the Little Red Wagon or your own rig with its front end pointed toward the sky, send it our way at editor@fourwheeler.com; if you can, include a high-resolution image to go with it.