Then the world's fastest truck, the customized Dodge A-100 compact pickup was a major hit with fans at drag strips throughout the United States as owner-driver Bill "Maverick" Golden screamed through the quarter-mile with the Wagon's front wheels in the air.
What made the Wagon famous was that, when Golden hit the throttle, it popped its front wheels into the air while continuing to accelerate. How did that happen?
The Dodge A-100 normally was powered by a slant six, but the Little Red Wagon was outfitted with a 426 Hemi – with roughly four times the horsepower of the six.
Bill "Maverick" Golden
There wasn’t enough room for the huge engine under the hood, so it was placed behind the cab, in front of the rear wheels, which required cutting a hole in the pickup bed and another into the cab itself.
The truck then was lightened by jettisoning items such as the heater, dash panels and front bumper, and by replacing the doors with fiberglass versions. The first time out of the box, using a stock Hemi, the truck ran a quarter mile in the 11 second range at 120 mph.
Then something weird happened. In a 1965 practice run at the Motor City Dragway north of Detroit, the Hemi's astounding torque and horsepower, and the truck’s rear wheel drive and slight rear-weight bias, all combined to surprise the Wagon's driver by throwing its nose into the air.
The result was an unexpected (the first time), thrilling, and moderately dangerous quarter mile.
When the accidental automotive acrobatics were repeated for race fans, they went wild, and Golden and the Wagon soon found themselves before the TV cameras filming Dodge truck commercials. Magazine photographers risked their lives to get dramatic shots of the Wagon doing its famous wheelies.
Before the season was over, the Maverick and the Wagon had become the most talked about combination in drag racing.
Their popularity continued for many years, and Golden last ran the Little Red Wagon in 2005 – 40 years after its debut.
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