Low Mileage Estate Car: 1978 Dodge Magnum

This 1978 Dodge Magnum is listed as a low-mileage estate find that’s been treated to some recent updates, including a respray. It’s equipped with the 360 “Lean-Burn” V8, which is a step up from the base-spec 318. The seller notes that the title indicates just over 17,000 original miles and that there is currently a tick over 21,000 on the clock. The Magnum is a classic we don’t see too often, and this one looks like it’s been loved. Find the Magnum here on craigslist for $4,000 in Phoenix, and thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the tip.

I’ve always appreciated the lines of the Magnum, especially with those aero-inspired covers on the headlights and the slats over the taillights. The Magnum has a distinct connection to NASCAR, developed to provide Chrysler with a vehicle that would be eligible to race while also preserving its relationship with Richard Petty, who was disappointed with the performance of the company’s Charger race car. To me, the Magnum wearing classic Mopar/Petty livery is one of the best-looking vintage NASCAR racers ever made. Highly subjective opinion, mind you.

The Magnum was no savior, however, and Petty would still eventually leave to go race under the General Motors flag. Fortunately, this specific car does not carry any of that baggage with it, and the Magnum seen here is a nicely preserved stock example. The seller notes it has factory A/C and a whole host of comfort and convenience options, including power steering, brakes, and windows, along with an automatic transmission and title steering. The interior is a combination of white, red, and black, and looks to be well-preserved.

The 360 V8 installed here should run better with a new gas tank and radiator, as installed by the seller. New rotors and brake shoes have also been installed. The Magnum will likely never appreciate dramatically as a classic car investment, as its racing pedigree didn’t earn it any additional favor with enthusiasts and today, its performance isn’t exactly world-beating. To me, you buy this car to own a fairly rare Mopar while enjoying the fact Richard Petty drove one – even if you’re the only one who ever knows, or cares, about that fact.

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Comments

  1. TimS Member

    We’re supposed to hate these but somebody or a list of somebodies clearly loved this one, and I like it, red interior bits and all. In today’s plastic jellybean-filled parking lots they look like a custom coachbuilt special, and I bet they’re more rare now than some muscle variants from a few years prior.

    14
    • AnalogMan

      Completely agree. This might be from the ‘malaise era’, but it’s unique, and has more style and personality than you could ever find anywhere else for the $4,000 price. If the mileage is real, you could almost use this as a daily driver. What else could you buy for that price where you’d never see yourself coming down the road in another one, and would be guaranteed to have the only one at any Cars & Coffee? If it wasn’t so far away, I’d be very tempted to pick this up as a ‘why not’ kind of car.

      11
  2. Andrew Franks

    It’s two States over from me and I have no room. It’s a sexy Magnum. And you will be unique; someone give it a good home. And drive it.

    3
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Yep, it is two states over from me too. 1000 miles away. If it was in Austin I would go look it over. 4K seems like a great price if it runs as good as it looks.

      2
  3. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    That’s a lot of style for a little money..

    5
  4. Rosco

    Always liked these. Not sure why it would need a respray with those miles. Either way, looks good, lots of options, and a great buy if miles are correct.

    3
  5. Pete Kaczmarski

    This car has been talked about on “Forcbodiesonly.com” and I think it well worth it. I own a ’79 Magnum GT with the coveted T-top and 360 Police package. It is black exterior with grey interior. I love it.

    11
    • TimS Member

      I’ve seen pictures of your car. You’re right to be proud.

      3
  6. Jerry

    I had a 78 magnum in 1992-93, it was a great running car and I always believed Chrysler Just knew larger cars and couldn’t quite get smaller cars anywhere close to competitive to japan (the soon-to-be K car era). That magnum was smooth, exceptionally quiet (360 but I don’t remember seeing “lean burn” under the hood. However the car was neglected so much that it went into a junkyard in 1993. Of course now I wish I had preserved it and 10+ other cars I’ve had in the past, a feeing surely shared here.

    2
    • r s

      I had a 1979 Trail Duster which I bought new in ’79, with a 360. I suppose the emissions regs for light trucks were still different than for cars but the 360 in my TD was a terrible runner as delivered. Even the one I took for a test drive idled very rough. When I got mine I broke off the idle limiter screw caps and adjusted the idle so it was smooth – then I had to turn the idle speed back down because it went up so fast.Then I plugged the air injection tubes and pulled the belt off the pump. That is all I recall doing to it, and at least it started and idled well afterward. But the mpg were still terrible – 10 around town, 15 absolute max at a steady 55mph, and really there wasn’t much power at all. Still it was a nice truck.

      However I had seriously considered buying a Magnum, loaded, and to this day I kind of wish I had. I would have ordered the 400 instead of the 360 but it was really one of the last old-school Chrysler corporation cars they ever made.

      3
  7. FordGuy1972

    One of the few fairly good-looking cars from the late ’70s. The condition of the exterior looks good and the interior color combinations really pop. No money for a rarely seen cruiser; talk about getting into the hobby on the cheap!

    2
  8. JP

    Looks like a great buy for the money!

    1
  9. r s

    Back in the late 1970’s I wanted to buy myself a brand new Magnum, loaded, dark blue with black bucket interior and T-tops. But having just come through two record-breaking snowy Chicago-area winters, instead I bought a 1979 Plymouth Trail Duster. It was a very nice truck but after a couple years with minimal snow and 10mpg I decided I wanted a car. (Probably just bored with the TD though it was nice.) By then they were making the Dodge Mirada, not the Magnum anymore, so I bought a Mirada.

    It was the biggest. Steaming. Pile. I have owned in over 45 years of driving.

    Everything went wrong, everything broke, everything failed. It’s the kind of car that almost put Chrysler out of business.
    I wish I’d just bought the Magnum in the first place.

    1
  10. Jack Quantrill

    Had a twin sister ‘78 Córdoba. Black with red Corinthian “Lather “. Great car!

    2
  11. r s

    Beautiful Magnum, wish it had buckets and a couple other changes but as-is, a very nice cruiser even if it does have ‘title steering’. (?) At the price it’s an absolute steal; for that money you could get a rusted used car with 120,000 miles on it.

    1
  12. Glenn

    I had my new Dodge van customized by a guy in Redwood City, CA in ’77. Wish I could remember his name, did beautiful work. Anyway, his wife drove a black Magnum with BFG TA 50’s and deep dish Cragar’s. It looked good with those wheels on it. I had forgotten about these cars until I saw this one.

    1
  13. CFJ

    Nice car! Always admired the slick lines on the Magnum! Looked very aggressive…. Worked one time with a woman who owned a Magnum, had loud glass packs on the car, sounded sweet. Asked her about the mufflers and said her teenage son had them put on when a new muffler was needed!

    1
  14. Sal

    Its a 2 door Mopar that has (presumably) lived its entire life in the desert for 4k….. You’d be crazy not to buy it!!!!

    And it is a pretty good looking car to boot…

    3
  15. Stevieg Member

    I question the mileage because of the new paint & parts. If parked outside in Phoenix, that would make sense. However the seats appear too nice to have been exposed to the heat like that.
    I am not saying it isn’t true, just thorough inspection might be necessary.
    I am not a fan of the color combo, but that is subjective. For $4,000.00, it is probably a fair deal even if the miles are over. The seats do look nice, from what can be seen of them.
    Even if the miles are over, the black body looks nice. Hopefully the mechanicals match. I just couldn’t do the white & red interior with the all black body. Something color-wise would have to change for me to own it lol.

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