Hosted by the Central Victorian Chrysler Club Inc. and held annually in Bendigo on the Queen’s Birthday (now King’s Birthday!) long weekend, Midstate Mopars is one of the most popular events on the calendar for Victorian Chrysler owners and enthusiasts.
At the Show ‘n’ Shine that takes over Bendigo’s Town Hall precinct on the second day of this big two-day event, there’s always a cornucopia of Chrysler family vehicles to see, including rarities like the 1979 Dodge Power Wagon pickup pictured.
By the late 1970s, Dodge’s Power Wagon was a long way removed from the model that had been introduced in 1945 as a civilian version of the WC series of military trucks.
Dodge pickups had become ‘lifestyle’ vehicles as well as working vehicles, evidenced by the special edition ‘Warlock’ and ‘Li’l Red Express’ that featured the kind of performance powertrains, detailing and colours found on muscle cars from a decade earlier.
A loophole in emissions regulations in the late 1970s allowed some commercial vehicles to run V8 engines without the catalytic convertors that strangled performance. Dodge exploited this, offering the Warlock with a 318 or 360 V8 and fitting the Li’l Red Express with an unrestricted 360 V8 as standard. This improved power by around 40 per cent compared to the same engine with a catalytic convertor.
The style and features from both the Warlock and Li’l Red Express have influenced the customised truck pictured. Alloy wheels and side stack exhausts are in the style of the Li’l Red Express, while the gold coachlines over Green Sunfire paint is similar to what was applied to the Warlock.
Other deviations from a stock late-‘70s Power Wagon include a 400ci Big Block V8 with a mild cam, headers and MSD ignition. The transmission is a 727 auto and a ‘Dixie’ horn is evident in the engine bay.
A 4-inch lift and full custom fitout in the tray are other features, while inside, bucket seats, a floor shifter for the auto and what appears to be a later sound system have been fitted.
Most of the underbonnet and exterior changes were done to this truck in the US before it came to Australia.
At time of writing, this rare Dodge pickup was listed for sale with JUST CARS, so click HERE to see more.
To see JUST CARS’ report from the 2023 Midstate Mopars, click HERE.