It was another typical Saturday night. No loud music, no champagne being puked up everywhere by drunk college kids, no clubbing. It’s just me, a cold beer, and my computer. I had just discovered the link to Nissan’s live feed of this year’s Bathurst 12hr race and McLaren is kicking ass! As is the typical setting, I’m in a chair paying no attention to whatever house flipping show was left on the TV. Out of nowhere, I’m brought back to reality from my digital trip to Mount Panorama when I hear the intro to some new show talking about flipping “Zombie Houses” in my current hometown of Orlando FL.
There it was. This awesome looking red Dodge. Wood trim, chrome badge, and STACKS!!! It was owned by the show team’s Project Manager Justin. Thanks to Facebook, I got lucky and managed to get in touch with Justin and his friends. Over several beers he shared with me this, the story of Li’l Red:
“When we started the show [Zombie House Flipping] I wanted something that would stand out that wasn’t my Acura. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Acura, but I wanted something that would be a symbol of what I want to do for Orlando. I want to put Orlando on the map! We are so much more than just Disney World. I’ve hustled to get where I am now and I think Li’l Red is a perfect symbol of that hard work; that mentality of hard work and quality that America stands for!
I’ve always liked the Li’l Reds. I found this one after searching the internet. The guy that I bought it from lived in Live Oak (FL). I apparently contacted him minutes after he posted the ad. When I got to it, it had been sitting for 10yrs and didn’t run. I took it to my buddy Seal. He had just found out his wife was pregnant with their first kid and I wanted to do something that would help him out a bit. I called him and told him I needed work done to Li’l Red. We agreed that I’d pay him hourly and cover the supplies. Everything would go to him and his son. We worked on Li’l Red during nights, which helped to ease Seal’s nerves a bit too.
We spent the next 6 months going over everything and got it running well , except for the carb. We had help from Rick at Wrench Connection here in Orlando figuring that thing out. Apparently it’s super touchy and even when you think everything is lined up it’ll still bog down. Rick figured that out. He also helped out by installing a new A/C system and updated the cooling system as well. It worked out perfectly. Right about the time Seal’s son was born we had finished the truck.
I have some upgrades in the works, Edelbrock carb, headers, new intakes etc., but the thing doesn’t really need it, you know? Back in ’79 it was the fastest American production car 0-100mph. They put a high performance engine in a commercial vehicle which helped give it some performance while keeping it exempt from the emissions regulations of the ’70s and ’80s.
I don’t have any plans on selling it. In fact, when Seal’s son graduates from college I plan on giving it to him. It’d be cool to give him a cool truck that his dad worked on. It’s meant to be an heirloom, something that he’d keep in the family.
Right now I use it every day. It is most definitely a work truck. For my business and the show I have to haul lumber and supplies around to job sites and Li’l Red is the perfect truck for that. Just the other day I had probably close to 1000lbs in the bed and she hauled it with no problem, spinning the tires even! It’s really nice to hop in with my dog Marley in the seat and cruise through the neighborhoods with the windows down. I love this truck it gets so much attention and it looks so damn good!
One of the first times we drove Li’l Red after getting her running, my friend Stormy hopped in it and decided to lay down some rubber. It’s what you do after you finish building a truck like this. She ended up losing control and fishtailed down the block. Stormy got it stopped just in time, right before a fountain. Had Li’l Red’s rear end stepped out again it would’ve met the fountain and we’d have a ton more body work to do.
Also during one of our days filming for the show, I blew my AC and radiator hoses off while we were rolling. Li’l Red turned into a steam machine on camera and we had to get it towed back to Rick. We ended up bombarding him with cameras and he filmed with us and fixed it ASAP.”
Big thanks to Justin for sharing his awesome truck with us!