Junkyard Find: 1978 Dodge Magnum

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Is there any vehicle more emblematic of the Malaise Era than the first-gen Dodge Magnum? Other than the Plymouth Fire Arrow, that is… or the black-bumper MGB… or the Mustang II. Terrible as it is, however, this junked Magnum I found mouldering in a San Jose self-service junkyard still has a certain undeniable presence.

The Magnum was the last of the storied Chrysler B-Body series, which means it’s a sibling to such Chrysler superstars as the Super Bee, Road Runner, and Charger.

I’m not going to look up the horsepower figures on the California-spec 318 for 1978. You don’t want to know.

Maybe I’m getting too tolerant in my old age, but I think that the weird styling touches on this car have aged better than most Malaise Detroit weird styling touches (e.g., the quarter-window louvers on the Pontiac Grand Am Colonnade).

Polyglycoat!


Just up the 880 from this yard, I passed the Solyndra and NUMMI buildings in rapid succession. What does it mean?










Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 66 comments
  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.
Next