The Dodge Warlock, 1976-1979
In the late 1970s, Dodge started showing and selling custom versions of its trucks, such as the 1970 Adventurer pickup with the Dodge Dude package. Dodge started selling what it called “adult toys,” culminating in the L’il Red Express Truck. For 1977, these were:
- the short wheelbase Warlock (a trick truck direct from the factory)
- the Street Van, a special version of the best-selling selling Dodge Tradesman full-sized van for individuals who want to do their own customizing
- Macho packages for the four-wheel drive Ramcharger and Power Wagon.
The Dodge Warlock pickups, featuring fancy wheels, fat tires, bucket seats, authentic oak sideboards and unique customizing of both the interior and exterior, was originally a show vehicle idea. It stirred such interest that Dodge moved quickly to introduce it late in the 1976 model year as a limited production vehicle; its popularity when it first hit the street made it a regular production model in 1977.
Robert H. Kline, manager of truck sales for Chrysler Corporation, wrote, "... more and more people were customizing and personalizing pickups, particularly the short wheelbase models. As with the van, the movement got its start on the West Coast and it's now moving across the country. The 'trick truck' concept allows the customer to drive away from the dealership with a fully customized vehicle that has a personality of its own."
The Warlock came with either conventional two-wheel or fourwheel drive, with the D100 model (rear wheel drive) having H70 x 15 raised white letter tires and the W100 (four-wheel drive) having 10 x 15 tires. Optional equipment included five-spoke wheels, bucket seats, tinted glass, bright rear bumper, and power steering. All had black interiors accented by gold tape on the dash and the doors, and a "tuff" steering wheel. Like the standard pickups, though, it had double wall construction, front disc brakes, and a standard slant six.
Both models were available, for their first year, in Black, Dark Green Metallic or Bright Red. Completing the custom look were solid oak sideboards above the box with gold accents, and chrome plated miniature running boards. The exterior had gold pinstriping to outlined the wheel wells and body lines; the pinstriping was continued inside, on the doors, dashboard, and the instrument cluster. The script word “Warlock” was emblazoned in gold on the tailgate.
It appears that all standard engine choices were available, which meant buyers could have the slant six, 318 with two or four barrel carburetor, 360 four barrel, 400 V8, and 440 V8; the 318 appears to have been most popular.
The Warlock’s oak-lined pickup bed was later used by the (more popular) L’il Red Express Truck, which had the same body panels and mechanicals (as did all D100 and W100 trucks); the Express also used the Warlock’s standard stepside chrome bumpers and grille, though it had new, five-slot disc wheels instead of the Warlock’s eight-spoke gold wheels (with black pinstripes). Those gold wheels only lasted for the first year, with the Warlock II of 1979 having chrome wheels.
The show vehicle and production vehicle differed somewhat, using a different tone of gold on the wheels, tape stripes instead of paint stripes, and no roll bar. There appear to have been few changes during the Warlock’s run; in 1979, the tailgate read “Warlock II,” and six colors were available.
The Warlock used all of Dodge's refinements to its pickup line, including the bright new grille with vertical rectangular parking lights, a new instrument panel with a more luxurious appearance, and new cowl panels.