Car-Napped: 1978 Dodge Magnum

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In my perfect Mopar garage, next to the Dodge Mirada that I admitted to you all I loved beyond reason, there would also be a Dodge Magnum like this 1978 model here on eBay. I blame this affection on the enclosed headlights which completely transform the look of this big-body coupe into something I desire, which was the focus of a period ad campaign where Dodge alluded to the Magnum’s ability to “car-nap” drivers due to its sensuous good looks and luxurious accommodations. 

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Those accommodations appear slightly less enticing than when this Magnum was new, but it’s hanging in there. Acres of red plastic and cloth was a must-have feature for cars made in this era, a color that seemingly has become a rarity on modern vehicles. The backseat looks practically unused, though that steering wheel needs some cleaning. The dash appears uncracked and the wood inserts look intact, but I’m surprised not to see a CB radio bolted to the console. The carpet also appears to be unmarked, a nice surprise given red doesn’t hide stains easily.

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My affinity for both this and the Mirada reveals an interesting character trait (or flaw, depending on how you look at it), since the Mirada was introduced to replace the larger, heavier Magnum. What is about these two cars, so closely linked, that causes me to forget the types of vehicles I have in my garage and start searching for short-lived Mopars? The Magnum was only sold for two years before being retired, making them a rare sight today. This example’s single-stage paint looks like it will come back nicely with a complete detailing.

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The staggered wheel and tire setup is an interesting look, but I’d like to see the rear wheels on all four corners. I even like the tail lights on these things, but I’d paint the carriage roof to match the rest of the car. It’s easy to forget given how rarely you see them that the Magnum had some success in competition, notching wins in NASCAR and as the last Dodge product to win a super speedway event. Overall, between the sofa-like interior and racy looks, I would have likely been a potential Magnum buyer in 1978 – or should I say, I’d have been car-napped?

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  1. Kincer DaveMember

    I like these, I had a 76 Cordoba and I had a friend that had a Magnum with T-tops and a built 360 they were nice riding and driving cars, if you want to see a Dodge Magnum in action check out the movie The Junkman it gets destroyed but it’s a decent car guy movie, it’s on youtube for free.

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  2. piper62j

    Nice.. the car is in great shape and I believe it was one of Mopars’ upper end machines.. someone will be getting a nice smooth riding set of wheels..
    Great find.

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  3. Moparman ElliottMember

    Well Jeff: Like you, although I love the Mirada, I never did like the Magnum. At that time (1978)I was driving a pristine ’70 Charger, and after it was totalled in an accident, the 78 Charger was just TOO meh! for me. It and the Magnum were Cordoba based, and just didn’t light my fire!! I was going to buy an Aspen, but didn’t. When the Mirada came along, I really liked it, but I’d stumbled upon a one owner, 29K PRISTINE ’74 Challenger, which I still have! If only I could find a nice Mirada CMX now! :-)

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  4. grenade

    This is a cool car. It’s a boat, it’s not really good for much of anything, yet somehow I really want one. That alone has value. :)

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  5. JW454

    What’s this?! A barn find type of car that has not only been washed but actually has been hand waxed/polished? It looks good. I like it.

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  6. Ed Kellock

    I’d have the seats redone in red leather and ditch those wheels/tires altogether. Nice car. I had forgotten all about them.

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  7. angliagt

    Car-napped – I’m intrigued……..

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    • I hate Camrys anywhere

      Its the state most Camry ‘drivers’ enter into at traffic lights

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  8. Clint

    My dad had 2 of these…a 1978 and a 1979. The 78 was white with a blue interior. I was 12 at the time and nothing would do me but to wash dad’s new car. I subsequently backed my dad’s 1978 Magnum into his 1977 Peterbuilt. The Pete sustained minimal damage, but the Magnum…not so much.

    Pop was so upset that his almost 1 year old car was bent. He told my step mom to go trade it on a new one…which she did. It was a 1979 Magnum XE. Cream kahki and brown. It was fully loaded and a beautiful car. I long for a Magnum.

    I never got punished by my father for that action. When I asked my dad many years later why he was so graceful with me; he responded: “I’m the dumb sumbich that gave you the keys”.

    In 2001; my 12 yr old son backed my 2001 F-150 into a tree. I shared the grace my father extended to my son. He is now a father; so I’ve reminded him of what’s due to one of my grand children.

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  9. Keith

    I think (if it doesn’t already exist) we need to start a support group for us Mopar guys who love the 78-83 Mopars.

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    • Bill

      78-79 Dodge Magnum Owner’s Group on Facebook. I bought one new in ’78, triple-black, still have it awaiting resto in my garage, along with 3 other Magnums I owned, I was car-napped in ’78 as I was looking at a Ramcharger (love the hidden option of removable roof (no convertibles in ’78 remember), but saw this in the showroom at dusk w/lights (which looked like they were shining from Heaven) and I said baby I gotta have it. Called and it was sold :O Ordered the twin to it. One of the better cars I’ve owned over the years. Yeah, I’m a fan!!

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  10. Gerry

    Great looking land yacht mopar, I miss the time before clear coat , when you could actually buff out and restore a paint job !

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