The Dodge Magnum name was originally launched in 1978 as an extension of the Chrysler brand in response to changing rules for the upcoming NASCAR racing season that would prevent the Dodge Charger from competing.
NASCAR legend Richard Petty originally preferred the Magnum in the opening stages of the 1978 season, however he found the handling difficult to control and switched to a Chevy after only 7 races. Despite this, Magnum have been successful, helping Kyle Petty (Richard’s son) win his first race and stayed with them for a further 5 races before abandoning them due to extensive and irreparable damage.
As of 2008, there were only two known NASCAR Magnums in existence, both in good condition and one residing in the Talledega NASCAR museum for fans to view.
From these exciting beginnings, the Magnum name was passed from car to car, including the original ‘Dart’ sold in Brazil and then as a vehicle itself sold in Mexico between 1981 and 1988 before being dropped as a full name in 1989. .
Dodge Magnum revival
The Magnum model name was brought back in 2004 as an estate version of the Chrysler 300 with some subtle body changes and was built in Ontario, Canada.
In 2005, the SRT-8, a performance-focused model, was launched and sold as the 2006 model year of the vehicle. With a 6.1L engine and over 425 horsepower, it won the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year contest as ‘Best New Modern Muscle Car’. With a 0-60 mph time of just 5.1 seconds and 0-100 mph in 11.7 seconds, it’s easy to see why.
In late 2007, Chrysler announced that the Magnum, along with four other models, would be dropped the following year, stating “…they weren’t making a living”, however Ralph Gilles, head of Chrysler’s SRT division indicated that the name and model can be recovered, claiming that the death of the magnum was due to a single person:
“He was single-handedly killed by an executive who is no longer with the company. He is retired. A lot of people in the company still like that vehicle, a lot.”
Outside of the US, the Dodge Magnum was sold under the ‘Chrysler 300 Touring’ name and was essentially the same with minor styling adjustments and the option of a 3.0L CRD Turbo Diesel engine.
As the Dodge Magnum is currently discontinued, owners have found that buying replacement parts, and especially custom parts like wheels, is hard to come by; however, there are manufacturers that produce high performance parts to match the high performance of the SRT-8.