CC Capsule: It’s a ’78 Magnum, So Ask Yourself: Do I Feel Lucky?

Somewhere, a lesser known law of physics states that an identical reaction is produced by the discovery of either an intact Dodge Magnum or a lottery scratcher worth more than a replay: Stunned silence.

Actually, I consider this 1978 Magnum to be one of the better looking cars of the late 70’s. OK, so that bar isn’t exactly high and yes, those ludicrously large rear wheels are the automotive version of a mullet; let’s just call them part of the Magnum-era aura .

Built only in 1978 and 1979, the Magnum was based on Chrysler’s tried-and-true B-body.  It was closely related to the new-for-1975 Dodge Charger SE and – surprise – the Chrysler Cordoba. Despite its close similarity to the Charger, both models were offered in 1978.

Like its opera-windowed brethren, the Magnum was a unibody personal luxury coupe based on the Mopar B-body  with gigantic doors and available bucket seats, console and T-Tops.

Despite using the same instrument panel, the Magnum had an attractive engine-turned applique in lieu of fake wood.

One interesting feature of the Magnum was clear hidden headlights. Like the upcoming 1979 Dodge St. Regis (by the way, seen one of THOSE lately?) they retracted below the headlights when turned on. Whether it improved aerodynamics is questionable. Most likely they just did it for looks.

Nineteen seventy-eight was the only year in which you could buy a Magnum powered by a 400 cu. in.V8; a police-spec 360 V8 became the top performance option in ’79. Two and four barrel versions of the 318 and 360 engines were also available both years. Transmission choices for the entire two-year run numbered exactly one, the Torqueflite automatic.

The parents of  one of my junior-high school classmates had a silver ’78 XE; it was one of the first cars I ached to possess, and my desire was crushed, very cruelly, when they traded it for an ’86 Buick Somerset.  I had almost forgotten about my longing for that Magnum (and for Magnums in general) when I discovered The Junkman, which is a companion piece to (the vastly superior) Gone in 60 Seconds and features a Magnum.  Here’s a clip:

Although the clip would indicate otherwise, the Magnum actually gets a fair amount of screen time.

Finding this example triggered long forgotten memories, and while circumstances don’t permit closer inspection, I do have the comfort  of knowing where to find her, parked outside for all to admire…but I think she waits only for me.