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Trucks, Jeeps

The Dodge Warlock, 1976-1979

The red truck pictured here is a Warlock II. The original Warlock is shown in black with gold wheels.

1978

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:

  • dodge warlock pickupsthe short wheelbase Warlock
  • the Street Van, a version of the Dodge Tradesman van ready for customizing
  • Macho packages for the four-wheel drive Ramcharger and Power Wagon.

The Dodge Warlock pickups, which included 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.

dodge warlock

Robert H. Kline, manager of truck sales for Chrysler Corporation, wrote in the press release, “... 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. Other equipment included five-spoke wheels, bucket seats, tinted glass, bright rear bumper, and power steering; options included a radio, air conditioning, cruise control, a rear cargo light, and a clock. Like the standard pickups, they had double wall beds and front disc brakes.

1979 Dodge Warlock II pickup truck

All had black interiors accented by gold tape on the dash and the doors, and a “tuff” steering wheel; In 1976, both models were available in black, dark green metallic, and 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 base 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.

1979 Dodge Warlock II

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.

Marc Rozman pointed out that a “Midnight Express” version was built — similar, but rarer. A pilot truck was used to do the 1/64th scale Jonny Lighting die-cast model.

dodge trucks growth

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.

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