Back in 1965, the first photo of the Little Red Wagon doing a wheelie appeared on the cover of Chrysler Bin and Bench.
Most were unaware that it was Jay Howell behind the wheel, driving for Dick Branstner and Roger Lindamood of Color Me Gone fame.
Chrysler/Dodge had enlisted their help in sorting out the unpredictable and wild-handling 90” wheel base truck fitted with their new 426 Hemi engine and intended for match racing.
The truck would later go to Bill “Maverick” Golden and the rest is history.
However, there were some bumps in the road for the Little Red Wagon. The truck crashed three times and the third wreck was severe.
During the crash, the engine and transmission were thrown from the truck, which was totaled. Golden survived the accident and he had a replacement truck built that he ran until 2003.
Golden retired the Little Red Wagon after a final run at US 131 in Martin, Michigan.
After Golden passed away in 2015, stunt driver Mike Mantel purchased the original Little Red Wagon and has been displaying it at events.
In March, Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars and Mantel were both attending the same car show. Carini stopped by to look at the original Little Red Wagon and advised Mantel not to ever restore it but to leave it as it is.
Mantel has finished construction on a new Little Red Wagon wheelie truck that will tour with the original.
According to Mantel, it has been his goal to have these two iconic trucks of drag racing under one roof so fans can enjoy seeing them.
Mantel is quick to point out that the new Little Red Wagon is not a tribute nor clone but the “real deal” as much as the truck was that Golden had built to replace the original when it was wrecked.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019