The real story behind the Dodge Midnite Express Truck

late seventies, cleverness designed and manufactured a unique line of special pickup trucks. To this day, these limited edition vehicles are coveted by collectors in the United States. Some of the most popular third-generation Dodge D/W series special pickup trucks include the Dodge Warlock, the Dodge Li’l Red Express, and the Dodge Midnite Express.


Between the Warlock, Li’l Red Express and Midnite Express, the Midnite Express is the most difficult pickup for collectors to get hold of. This is because Dodge didn’t produce the Midnite Express until 1978, with only about 200 units. What’s perhaps more interesting than the limited number of Midnite Express pickups that were produced is why the 1978 Dodge Midnite Express was produced in the first place. Read on to learn more about the unique origin story behind the Dodge Midnite Express.

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The Dodge Midnite Express Truck was part of Dodge’s D/W Series

1970_Dodge_The_Dude
The 1970 Dodge “The Dude” via Wikimedia Commons

Dodge produced its D/W series pickups from October 1960 to September 1993. The first generation of the Dodge D/W series included the Dodge D-100 and Dodge D-200. These first generation pickup trucks were manufactured in Warren, Michigan, by the Dodge Division of the Chrysler Corporation. They also got both the Dodge and Fargo branding.

In 1964 Dodge introduced its first sporty custom pickup truck with bucket seats, console, carpeting and racing stripes. This would open the door for additional dedicated pickup trucks along the line. Dodge began production of the second generation D/W series pickup trucks in 1965. Production of the second generation would last until 1971. Some of the most notable updates to the 1965 models were wider tailgates and the replacement of the A Series. engines with the LA series engines.

One of the most prominent releases in the second generation was ‘The Dude’. In August 1969, Dodge released the “Dude Sport Trim Package”. Essentially, “The Dude” was just a spiced up version of the D-100 already in production. However, “The Dude” quickly became a coveted pickup truck among consumers with its added black or white stripe decal, dog saucer hubcaps and unique tailgate decal and embossed logo.

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The third generation of the Dodge D/W series (1972-1993)

1024px-1979_Dodge_Little_Red_Express_(2603418038)
1979 Dodge Li’l Red Express via Wikimedia Commons

Dodge began production of the third generation D/W series in 1972. The generation received a new design that introduced a more rounded look. The styling cues of the 1972 Dodge pickup trucks were quite similar to the round look of the 1971 Plymouth Satellite. At the end of the 1970s, Dodge took the decision to introduce some special models in the third generation of its Dodge D/W series.

In the late 1970s, Dodge produced a line of special pickup trucks that they marketed as “adult toys.” Unlike traditional work style pickup trucks, these specialty trucks were considered “lifestyle” pickups and were marketed as personal use pickup trucks. Many of these pickup trucks are considered iconic today.

One of the most striking pick-up trucks from this special line is the Li’l Red Express. Although the Li’l Red Express was coveted among pickup enthusiasts, it was not offered for sale in California, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, or Washington. This is because the pickup at these locations did not meet certain noise standards. To remedy the situation, Dodge introduced a new special pickup truck known as the Midnite Express.

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Only about 200 pieces of the Midnite Express Truck made

Midnite Express
Via classic car reviews

Essentially, the Dodge Midnite Express was developed and produced solely because of the noise standards that were not met with the Li’l Red Express. While the story of its origins might make it seem like the next best thing, the 1978 Dodge Midnite Express is an iconic pickup truck in its own right.

Dodge didn’t produce the Midnite Express until 1978, so there is only one model year for this pickup. In addition, the Midnite Express truck range is quite low as Dodge has only produced about 200 units of this special pickup. Given its origin story, it is of course not surprising that the Midnite Express bears many similarities to the Li’l Red Express. Both pickup trucks have the same exhaust pipes, wheels and gold pinstriping. But that’s where the similarities between these two Dodge pickup trucks end.

An important difference between these special trucks is, of course, that the Li’l Red Express was painted red, while the Midnite Express was black and had a “Midnite Express Truck” decal on the door. In addition, most of the 1978 Dodge Midnite Express pickup trucks were powered by the 440 engine instead of the 360 ​​engine found in most Li’l Red Express trucks.

Whether the 1978 Dodge Midnite Express comes second to the Li’l Red Express is just a matter of opinion. What is certain, however, is that the Midnite Express is a limited-edition pickup truck with a truly unique origin story.

Sources: DodgeTalk, Top Classic Cars

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