In hindsight, the men who had placed the 426 Hemi in the bed of the Dodge A-100 pickup should have seen what was going to happen. Originally built as a match racer by Dodge, when it came time to test the truck out they only had one name in mind: Bill “Maverick” Golden. Golden, who had been running Super Stock for years and had landed on Ma Mopar’s radar after putting “Dyno” Don Nicholson on the trailer at the 1962 AHRA Winternationals, had been making a name for himself in the racing world. He was one of the first successful racers running an automatic car, which came about when he and a friend started messing with the spring-loaded weights inside the TorqueFlite. He gained factory support with a “parts deal” in 1960, was getting factory cars by 1962, and by 1964 was something to fear on the AHRA circuit in a bright yellow Hemi-powered Dodge 330. Around the end of the 1964 season, Dodge asked Golden to come up to Detroit to check out a new vehicle that they had prepared.
There, at the shop of Dick Branster (of “Color Me Gone” fame), was the truck: a Dodge A-100 with a 426 Hemi and TorqueFlite mounted pretty much mid-ship that was drinking 30% nitro. Originally it was designed for A/FX and ran some races, but the reaction of the fans to the truck’s notorious nose-high runs soon inspired Chrysler’s PR guy, Frank Wylie, and in short order the Little Red Wagon wheelstander was born. Over the years, several A-100s became the Little Red Wagon: in addition to the original truck, which was wrecked in 1969, there was one replacement (wrecked in 1971), a truck built from parts scavenged from the first two (which wrecked in Canada in 1975 and almost killed Golden), and the “show truck”, built in 1967 and repurposed in the mid-1970s as the performance truck. This last A-100 would be the wheelstander that would be seen by fans worldwide up until Golden’s retirement in 2003. In 2011 Golden was reunited with his last drag car, the 1964 Dodge 330 nicknamed “The Taxi Cab” for it’s trademark yellow-and-black paint.
Sadly, Bill Golden passed away September 14th, 2015, leaving behind a legacy of drag racing entertainment. All of us at BangShift send our sincere condolences to his family.