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Only 20,452 Miles! 1978 Dodge Magnum XE

I’m old enough that I remember being fascinated with the new 1978 Dodge Magnum’s headlights when they were first in dealerships. As a fan of early E-Types and GT40s, I didn’t understand why all cars didn’t have sleek, clear covers over the mandated US headlights! It looks like at least one other person felt the same way as it appears this 1978 XE model may actually be one of those low-mileage unicorns that have been garaged its whole life! It’s listed for sale here on eBay, where bidding is up to $10,500 at the moment. The Magnum XE is currently located in Frankfort, Illinois.

Born at a time when tooling dollars were hard to find, the Magnum was a dual-purpose design. On the one hand, Dodge needed to revitalize its entry into the personal luxury coupe class, where the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar, and others were capturing the hearts of Americans. On the other hand, the relatively aerodynamic 1973 Dodge Charger body was aging out of NASCAR and Richard Petty needed something else to race–or he might “defect” from Mopar cars, as he did during the 1969 season (learn more here if you are interested). So the Magnum, and especially its covered-headlight front end, was born. As it turns out, it wasn’t a great racing body, as Petty is reported to have said that “the Magnum is undrivable at 190 miles per hour.” Just let that one sink in for a moment! You can watch a very period promo film about the 1978 Magnum XE here to get a better idea of the era and what Dodge was shooting for.

This car is in absolutely stunning condition, and further supports my uncle’s theory that a surprisingly large portion of survivor cars are green; I’ve written about that before. We’re told that the story behind this one is that a World War II veteran purchased this car new for his wife. Unfortunately, she was only able to drive it for a couple of years due to a medical condition. From 1980 until 2015, the car was only occasionally driven around the neighborhood on short trips, and not in the rain or snow. After the passing of the original owner, a neighbor purchased the car and performed some maintenance, as well as replacing the original headliner. The current owner (who is in the auto sales business) purchased the car this year and has essentially cleaned it up for sale.

While the interior is really gorgeous, the seller does note a few issues with accessories such as a power window, air conditioning, and those distinctive headlight doors. All items can be taken care of by a new owner that appreciates this sea of green! With the Magnum model only lasting two years (47,827 produced in 1978, 25,367 for 1979) you won’t see many others on the road.

The 360-cubic-inch V-8 was an optional engine over the standard 318 but is not the top-of-the-line 400. It’s not clear whether this is the two or four-barrel version of the 360; either one will do, although propelling 215.7 inches and nearly 3,900 pounds quickly with a late 1970s-spec anemic V-8 is pretty difficult. As it stands, I doubt that the new owner will be hurrying along anyway–this green machine is for cruising! I actually believe the low mileage claim for this car; what do you readers think? And do you want to add it to your garage?

Comments

  1. Stan

    Wow beautiful Dodge. I recall climbing into the large back seats, from the coupes of this era, with the opera windows. Like looking out the porthole of a boat…. and they were boats.. Land yacht.

    Like 9
  2. Dave, Australia

    Wish they had vehicles of this calibre in Australia. Stunning condition of the body means everything, down rated horsepower not as important.
    Informative write up thanks Jamie

    Like 8
  3. Geronimo Thomas

    That dirty engine says more than 20k miles…

    Like 2
  4. Big C

    The best thing about these cars, ARE the headlight covers.

    Like 6
  5. Jay McCarthy

    I learned the E brake turn on one of these that I rented from National
    When I got it back to the airport it felt like the tires were octagonal 😂

    Like 3
  6. Keith D.

    Great looking Magnum. Well taken care of, from what I’m seeing from those photos and just include a good motor scrub and that vehicle is special.

    Like 7
  7. David Nelson

    Being a fan of green I LOVE it! Immaculate indeed!!

    Like 8
    • John D

      Im not a huge mopar fan but I do like this car especially the green being my favorite color. I would certainly loose the lean burn setup.

      Like 3
  8. Jack

    I think the reason that so many survivors are green is because they are so ugly that no one ever wants to drive them.

    My mom had a green Volare but at least the interior was off white and the exterior gave way to rust so didn’t stay green all that long

    Like 2
    • bone

      People who own and like green cars could be offended by that statement , but probably wont care what you think

      Like 8
      • MKG

        Green cars have traditionally been the low line inexpensive models. So, Jack is quite correct.

        Like 1
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        MKG, can you qualify that statement with an example? A color is a color, it does not denote model type.

        Yeah, you might be able to name some high end brands that don’t traditionally sell green cars, but there are plenty that do, and many others that will paint a car any color you want.

        When Ford decided to add Green to the Bronco line, many people changed their order. And I don’t consider a vehicle that can cost upwards of 70K as “low line”

        Like 4
    • normadesmond

      I have an absolutely gorgeous crystal green Delta 88 Convertible. Its color may be the best thing about it and no, I am not the least bit insulted that some may not like it. As a friend used to say to me, “vanilla, chocolate, strawberry.”
      We all like different things.

      Like 5
      • Big_Fun Member

        Normadesmond –
        Please post a picture of your Crystal Green Oldsmobile, if you can!

        Thanks.

      • normadesmond

        Big_Fun-

        I’m not a member! Sorry!

        Like 1
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It’s not that I hate green, I just think that this car would look a lot better (meaner) in a different color, like red or black.

    Like 2
  10. DON

    These cars have such a more aerodynamic look to them compared to the flat nosed 76-77 Montes ; I’ve always wondered why they were so unstable at the track ?

    Like 3
    • Gerald Ramey Jr

      According to the book, “Richard Petty: Cars Of The King”, Petty did indeed say the Magnum is undrivable at 190 MPH. From what I’ve read, the back end of the car moved around a bit, making it unstable. Donnie Allison said the same thing about the new Olds he was driving. NASCAR was moving towards smaller wheel-based cars.
      Also, Chrysler was having problems at that time and getting new engine parts was impossible. Harry Hyde is quoted as saying, “We’ve been running engine blocks from a junkyard for three years.” Dealerships couldn’t get parts and Chrysler couldn’t pay for them. A lot of people didn’t think, at that time, that Chrysler would even be in business the next year.
      Richard Petty said, “The 340 Wedge was a good engine, all you needed was to keep improving it, but you couldn’t get parts.”

      Like 1
      • Keith D.

        As a younger man in my 20’s I worked as a Security Guard for a Supermarket chain called “Pathmark”. I didn’t have a car at the moment and the Supermarket would send guards further away from the City (New York) to work certain shifts at markets in Upstate New York. I needed the overtime so I volunteered to work upstate one day. They gave me an employee “loaner car” which was a Chrysler Cordoba (76-79?) to drive and this was in the cold snowy winter time. The roads were clear heading to work however, it snowed again during the day into the night during my shift. By the time I finished my shift at 12 midnight. It was at least 2 feet of snow on the ground I wiped the snow off the car and began my 45 minute trip back to the city. And I gotta tell you that was one of the worst rides I’ve ever experienced in my years of operating a motor vehicle. The car was spinning back and forth from the rear, even at a very slow speed the Cordoba and I’m certain the Magnum was poorly produced the same. That Cordoba was virtually uncontrollable. Chrysler did a very poor job with the handling of the rear suspension stability of that car. I was just very happy I made it home safe. The Legend Richard Petty was absolutely correct Gerald. Just Terrible!

        Like 2
  11. Allen Member

    I bought a Magnum 360 around 1991 – in a condition very much like this one. I paid $700 for it. The 360s were supposed to be problemmatical but I never had any trouble with mine. ‘ Drove that car from Virginia to New Jersey, many times to North Carolina, and several times to Minnesota – often pulling a trailer. I don’t recall ever having to fix anythiing on that car. My formula for buying used cars is to buy only one-owner cars at least ten years old. Nobody keeps a new car that long unless they like it and take care of it. It also helps if they’re Mopars.

    FWIW,
    Allen

    Like 7
  12. karl

    Green a low line color ? That’s a new one on me- God knows how many green LTDs and Country Squires were built , and at times in my life I’ve owned a 70 Bonneville , 73 Catalina wagon , 71 Monterey , 69 Buick Wildcat , 69 Pontiac Executive , 72 Sedan De Ville, and a 73 Delta 88 , all shades of green and that’s just the cars I remember ! These were not special ordered new by me, these were just used cars I bought- Green was popular on all size cars

    Like 11
    • MKG

      The reason is exactly as stated, think about it.

    • Conrad A

      My 1974 Cutlass Supreme coupe wears its original non metallic factory paint. It’s not quite a mint green (like what you’d see on a 79 Cutlass), but a slightly different hue. I call it a sage green, but that’s probably not the correct factory name for the color. Anyway, I wasn’t old enough to drive that car when it was new, but my aunt’s neighbor across the street had a 74 Omega S in that same green, and I remember that everyone seemed to dislike the color. My aunt always referred to it as “that ugly green!” My other aunt used to chime in, and voice her opinion that the owner was such a cheapskate, that “she probably only bought it because she got it cheap!” Fast forward to today, and everyone seems drawn to my Cutlass not only because of its amazing survivor condition, but because they love the color!

      What a difference a few decades make!

      Like 5
  13. Emel

    This would have been akin to racing a Chrysler Cordoba or the
    76 or 77 Charger re-style. What was Petty thinking. Would have stuck with the ’73 Charger model, much more aerodynamic than these. Until Dodge came up with something better.

    • Big C

      NASCAR wouldn’t let him. The rules had limits on the age of the bodies. Same thing happened to Ford teams.

      Like 1
  14. Alen Member

    I’ve never heard of a stigma attached to green vehicles. Indeed, we British car guys relish our BRG (British Racing Green) roadsters and GTs. It is the “proper” color, indeed!

    Allen

    Like 6
    • MKG

      I, in particular, do care for the color green on cars. No issues there with me. The cheapest lowest line cars were pale yellow with a horrible forest green interior with rubber floor mats. Ask any Boomer car dealer.

      • Emel

        That explains why my childhood next door neighbor always bought a pale yellow car. Ugliest thing, the bees loved it though.

  15. Allen Member

    ‘ Think we need to bring back those pale yellow cars. When’s the last time you saw a honey bee? They seem practically extinct here in Michigan.

  16. Ron
  17. MKG

    Hmm, interesting. I consulted with a friend that has one of the largest collections of auto ephemeral and he has never heard this either and he is 80 y/o. So, guess it must be an old wives tale, lol. But, most of the 60s and early 70s cars that were 4 door plain Jane sedans with rubber floor mats and heater/defrost delete were muddy medium green with vinyl medium muddy green interiors. At least around here, lol. So, I stand corrected. Guess it was what I was told early on and it stuck.

  18. Allen Member

    OK, back in 1966 my dad bought a new Falcon: radio delete, it did have a heater (Minnesota). Othewise, even the deletes were deleted. With three on the tree, and of course the six-cylinder engine, it was known as a “Nelly Rand”. Anybody else old enough to remember that expression?

    It was worse than the most boring car I’ve ever seen; it was the klutziest thing to drive I have ever driven. It was the most un-integrated design one could imagine. I’m sure, for example, the guy who designed the clutch never met the guy who designed the transmission. And the guy who designed the suspension certainly never talked with the guy who designed the steering. It was a four-door sedan,of course – which is actually OK with me, but not with most car guys. By 1966, IIRC, power steering and power brakes were practically standard equipment on most cars. But not on that Falcon. It must have been a special order – with power-steering delete, and power-brakes delete.

    But the one thing that saved that car from absolute terminal boredom was it’s beautiful shade of dark forest green, lending it a visual elegance totally undeserved. Most other bottom-feeder Falcons of the time, in my memory were rather a metalic turquoise. I’ll admit that back 17 years earlier, in the shoebox Ford days, the sub-entry-level models were all a washed-out mint green color. Those were the ones with wheel-deletes. But the paltry Plymouths of the1950 era were all faded light blue. I don’t recall the cheap Chevies of the era – perhaps the entire car was deleted.

    Ultimately, I talked my dad into trading the undeletable Falcon for a nicely-optioned 1969 Impala 396 four-door hardtop. AT, AC, PB, PS, PW, Tilt/Cruise, AM/FM: I think I that’s all the late-60s acronyms I can remember. Two decades earlier, there was only one invented: “R&H”.

    At any rate, my folks both loved that Impala. It became the family standard against which, all cars owned before or after were judged. It was gold with a black vinyl top.

    FWIW,
    Allen

  19. george mattar

    What a beauty when people drove CARS, and not boring SUVs. I work at a Chrysler Ram dealer. All we sell our boring vehicles that eat gas like Rosie O’Donnell at a free buffet. Today, vehicles are ho hum, ugly and available with ONLY gray ugly interiors. The auto industry is a complete joke today. I would take this car over any NEW car. Wait, there are no new cars, just SUVs and gas hog trucks.

    Like 2

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