Dodge Magnum Introduction
The Dodge Magnum was first released in the last 1970’s and was supposed to be a Charger replacement, meant for the NASCAR track. Unfortunately, its racing life was short lived and the Magnum was essentially discontinued after a short two-year run. Then in 2005, Dodge brought back the Magnum name. This time it was on a 4-door station wagon. With a four-model lineup to choose from, the modern Magnum didn’t have a specific identity and the initial demand quickly declined. The lackluster SE model with a V-6 engine shuttled kids to practice, while the SXT offered all-wheel drive without much ground clearance, and the SRT-8 packed a 6.1L 425 horsepower engine into a station wagon.
NASCAR-Tested 1978 Charger Replacement
The Dodge Magnum was first introduced in 1978 as a replacement to the Dodge Charger and was the last vehicle produced on the Chrysler B platform. It offered a full lineup of high-displacement V-8 engine options ranging from 5.2L to 6.6L, and was packed with features: power steering/brakes, adjustable torsion bars, and an optional T-bar or sunroof. While its NASCAR career stared off promising, with a second-place finish in the 1978 DAYTONA 125 and leading 30 laps of the DAYTONA 500, that hype quickly diminished. “Undriveable at 190 mph” is how Richard Petty ended up describing the 1978 Dodge Magnum after driving it in many races, leading to Dodge dropping it halfway through its inaugural season. The Dodge Magnum was discontinued after a two model-year run from 1978 to 1979, in part due to the drive toward more fuel efficient vehicles.
International Dodge Magnum
The Dodge Magnum name lived on in some markets. Brazil offered a top-tier Dodge Dart Magnum from 1979 to 1981, featuring a 318 cu in V-8. Two generations of a Dodge Magnum reached the Mexican market as a sleek two-door coupe from 1981 to 1988. The first two years stuffed a 5.9L V-8 under the hood, while 1983 came with a turbocharged I-4. It was advertised as one of Mexico’s fastest cars in 1985 before being discontinued in 1988 and replaced by the Chrysler Shadow.
Second Generation on Chrysler LX Platform
The Magnum name wasn’t used again by Dodge until the 2005 model year, when it became a station wagon on the Chrysler LX platform. Four engine options existed: the SE model with a 2.7L V-6, the SXT with a 3.5L V-6, the R/T with a 5.7L V-8, and the SRT-8 with a jaw-dropping 6.1L V-8.
All-wheel drive became available in 2005 for the SXT and R/T models. Its aggressive style was matched in 2006 when Dodge released the Charger, but their similarities were not perfectly identical. Not only was the Charger a sedan while the Magnum is a station-wagon, the differences also extended to the headlights, grille, and taillights.
SRT-8 Dodge Magnum
With under 5,000 vehicles produced, the SRT-8 Dodge Magnum didn’t see many drivers. But it’s massive 6.1L engine pushed out 425 horsepower, leading it to receive the Best New Modern Muscle Car award from he Canadian Car of the Year contest. 20 inch wheels, upgraded suspension, and Brembo brakes gave this top-of-the-line model the looks and stopping power to match the powerhouse. In Europe and Australia, the Magnum was sold as a Chrysler 300 Touring, which was nearly identical except the 300’s frontend and interior.
Eventual Decline and Discontinuation in 2008
The Dodge Magnum started off with somewhat respectable sales figures hovering around 40,000 to 50,000 units for the first three years of production. After a lackluster 2007, a sharp decline in demand occurred in 2008, leading to its demise. According to Dodge it was “not earning its keep” and was cancelled along side of the PT Cruiser convertible, Crossfire, and Pacifica models, eventually being replaced by the Dodge Journey. However, some enthusiasts envision a future for the return of a powerful Dodge Magnum. Both Audi and BMW are bringing station-wagon based vehicles with powerful engines back to the US market. Maybe Dodge will follow suit.