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Magnificent 1978 Dodge Magnum XE

Magnum! Now there’s a name that invokes power or size. It could be 1.5 liters of champagne, a Smith & Wesson firearm, or a Dodge model automobile and of course, being Barn Finds, I am referring to the auto variety. This first version of a Dodge Magnum is often overlooked so finding one, especially in this condition, is always a nice surprise. This 43K mile example is located in Clinton Township, Michigan and is available here on eBay for a BIN price of $9,000. There is a make an offer option too. Thanks to Patrick S. for this tip!

In 1978, Chrysler Corporation was in a hurtful way. The ’73 oil embargo and the resulting recession was particularly difficult on the smallest of Detroit’s Big Three. The “K” car platform, a form of salvation for Chrysler, was yet to be introduced though its inspiration was brought about, somewhat, by Lee Iacocca’s ascension as the new CEO of ChryCo that year. But the outlook was not small car only, size still mattered and the ’78 Magnum XE was a new offering. Based on Chrysler’s B-body platform, the single body style offered was a two-door coupe with about 55K copies leaving the Windsor, Ontario assembly line in ’78 and another 25K or so, following in ’79. After two years, the generation-one Magnum was done. It was, unfortunately, the Magnum body style that got NASCAR racing great, Richard Petty, a Dodge and Plymouth stalwart, to give up on ChryCo. and turn to GM for future racing success. The Magnum just wasn’t, or couldn’t, be made into an aerodynamic form suitable for high bank, high-speed stock car racing.

The seller states that this Magnum was in a collection dating back to the ’80s and he has mechanically restored items as needed. I’d like to say that this car needs nothing and just move on but that wouldn’t be a very thorough review. But, this Dodge really does present well and is in beautiful condition – and probably needs nothing. The Tapestry Red Sunfire Metallic finish is deep, the chrome is brilliant and the red vinyl top is like new. There are no visible dents, scratches, contusions, or evidence of crash damage. The seller mentions the new General tires, of the white lettered variety, have been installed. They are a matter of preference and seem a bit incongruous on a car of this stature, but they work OK with the “Aluminum Fascia Road Wheels.” The front bumper of this Magnum is a rammer and a half but it perfectly fits the powerful image that this Dodge projects.

The red velour interior is very typical for the era. The split-bench seat upholstery fabric may be a bit faded but it is still very presentable. Sure, faux wood grain is slathered here and there but that’s in keeping with the times. The dash pad, carpet (“shag carpet” no less, according to Dodge’s sales brochure), and headliner all check out perfectly. The seller mentions that the instrument panel gauges all work but the fuel gauge is erratic. It’s refreshing to find a color other than black or gray finishing off an interior.

Under the expansive hood of this Magnum is a 360 CI, V8 engine, yielding 155 net HP and transmitting the power to the rear wheels via a TorqueFlite, three-speed, automatic transmission. The seller claims, “It runs and drives like it did when new, can be driven anywhere.” Mechanical updates include new brake pads, calipers, and hoses; a catalytic converter deletion; a new factory two bbl carb; new Mopar ECU ignition kit; an engine and transmission fluid change, installation of  Valvoline VR1 oil, and a front end alignment. That deleted cat is going to cause a problem in states that require emissions inspection on ’76 and newer models.

The Magnum made a bold statement at a time when everyone was heading for the hills in search of econoboxes. Of course the following year, 1979, the Iranian oil embargo emerged, along with the advent of things like odd and even rationing, but in ’78, that was unseen, though it probably helped with the sharp fall-off in Magnum sales. Worth the price? I can’t say, I guess it’s a matter of what one may value. One thing does seem certain, there probably won’t be another big, two-door coupe like this Dodge produced again. If this is the kind of car that you value, here’s your chance wouldn’t you say?


  1. Big_Fun Member

    Nice example. Surprised it isn’t equipped with factory A/C. Maybe bought new in the UP of Michigan.

    Like 10
    • Nick

      Stranger still with that dual belt system and huge alternator. The compressor would be front and center where the idler pulley is now. Maybe in days past it was comprehensively removed . . .

      Like 3
  2. William

    You could get these with a 400 inch Big Block!

    Like 4
    • Dave

      True, but a trip through the catalogs, a credit card, and a weekend or two will wake that 360 up quite a bit. In Pennsylvania, cars with classic or antique plates don’t face inspection.

      Like 5
  3. DrillnFill

    That is a sweet looking Dodge. Looks muscular and fast standing still, and I bet that 360 would take kindly to a few tweaks to really wake it up. My big concern would be availability of parts for the future. Like Doctor Emmitt Brown, I’m always thinking “4th dimensionally”! 😀

    Great car though!

    Like 6
    • Chris

      Not just a great car but AWESOME same platform as the Cordoba lots of parts available. I loved those cars & would drive it all day long . Great Cruisin car

  4. Jcs

    Such cool cars, you rarely see these and this one appears to be exceptionally well cared for.

    I too am shocked at the lack of A/C. Rules it out for me personally but I would imagine that very few were produced without it. As to how that may affect the value/collectability is beyond my paygrade.

    Like 5
    • shan_paramus

      actually the ad said it has A/C but has been sold anyway

  5. Marko

    I wonder if these, like my 78 Monico coupe had the weak trunk areas and brackets where rust would weaken the structure, ending with the bracket and springs pushing up thru the trunk floor. Bought mine with only 65k in 1985. It was showing beginning rust in rear wheel lips and spots of flaking paint on rear quarters. Nice looking, running riding car. A WI car, I stiil didn’t expect the springs to pop thru less than 2years later. I was told by a couple of body men the 78’s were known for this, not earlier or later models. Later I bought a 79 Cordobra, but checked that area for rot before buying. Like the ride of these personal size yachts!

    Like 4
    • Steve Clinton

      ‘Cordobra’ was that a combination Cordoba and Cobra? (wink)

  6. Troy s

    Nice big highway floater with decent styling, there’s no need to continue without cat’s when a new high flow converter would work. Some of these had dual cats back then, not a problem. I bet the fuel gauge is the only one malfunctioning, from overwork! Ha, just stick a four barrel set up on there and it’s all good.
    Nice ride.

    Like 5
  7. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Wow, what a looker!

    Like 3
  8. Steve Clinton

    Nice car! Sold on 11/3 for $9000. Nowadays, any collectible car that sells for less than 5 figures is a bargain…or a POS!

    Like 6
  9. Jesse W.

    Lean burn has ben removed. Should be on air cleaner above pcv valve

    Like 5
  10. Joe Machado

    The wheels look similar to wheel covers on a 61 Imperial Crown.
    Test drove a new 78 Green Magnum. Instead, bought a new 79 Chrysler 300 Sunroof.

    • Chris M.

      Yet another cool story from Cool Joe Machado!! Man we can only imagine how great it must be to lived your life Cool Joe! You’re too much man!

      • Joe Machado

        Nothing in chris m’s life but to cheat people. He is really chris houg. Do not buy phoney cars from him

        Like 2
      • Chris M.

        Oh Cool Joe, you’ve got me wrong buddy. But that’s ok! Lol

        I have no intention nor do I sell cars for a living.

  11. David Miraglia

    Magnum I always thought of as angry Cordoba. But nice…

    Like 2
  12. George

    Beautiful car!! If that was on the Canadian side, I’d snap that up in a minute for $9K. Dual belts are not that unusual, a lot had them with no air, my ’79 Lil Red came that way. That could be a 100 Amp alternator, BTW.

    Like 1
  13. George Mattar

    Beautiful styling. I remember these brand new when I was in college. I also lusted after the Dodge Mirada. Remember them. Saw probably the best one on the planet at Hershey years ago. It ended up in Hemmings Motor News as a feature. I worked as am editor there and told our boss about the Mirada in our hotel parking lot. Today cars are BORING. All look the same like a praying mantis coming at you. Great buy on this car.

    Like 2
    • William

      Yes, Miradas were pretty fine. Have not seen one in the flesh for years, must be going up in value.

  14. David M Sutkowski

    I had a blue 78 with t-tops, white interior, and a console shifter. Had one of the early lock-up TCs too. Great car.

    Like 1
  15. Jcs

    Congratulations to whoever the buyer is. Great deal on what appears to be a rare, beautifully maintained Mopar. Great looking to boot. Well done, she looks like a keeper.

    Like 1
  16. Jimdendy

    Car did NOT sell….

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