The 430 Horsepower Dodge Magnum SRT-8 Hemi Concept Car
Released January 22, 2003 based largely on Dodge releases.
The Dodge Magnum combines Hemi power, rear wheel drive, and a sturdy frame to create a vehicle with plenty of interior space, sports-car acceleration and handling, and real towing ability. Dodge calls it a "sports tourer," claiming it's a brand new segment, but we see a new interpretation of the BMW X-5 - in short, a car-based SUV, admittedly one with a truck engine. As far as American cars go, it's a rare combination of V8, rear drive, and hatchback design.
The Hemi was a legend in the 1960s, stunning the racing world and topping the muscle car era. Last powering cars such as the Plymouth Superbird and Barracuda, and Dodge Challengers and Chargers, the Hemi passed into history in 1971 as flagging sales, emissions laws, and increasingly high costs for automakers to increase straight-line performance led automakers to detune or eliminate high-performance engines.
The new Hemi uses the technological advancements of the past forty years, while retaining a number of cost-cutting features to reduce the number of moving parts. This helps it to overcome the main problem of the first and second generations of Hemi engines - high assembly costs. The Hemi engine option could cost as much as one third of the price of the car back in the 1960s; today, it is reportedly cheaper to build than the standard 4.7 "Next Generation" V8, which is in turn reportedly cheaper to build than the old LA-series 318 and 360 Magnum V8s.
The Dodge Magnum SRT-8 concept vehicle takes the Hemi one step further, with a Whipple supercharger to add power at both low and high rpm. It helps to raise power to about 430 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque - just a tad more than the official ratings of the legendary 426 Hemi, and without the single-digit gas mileage or oil consumption.
Using rear wheel drive and a V8 forced Dodge to return to the olden days of a long hood and large grille, but pays off with the loss of torque steer and full use of all four tires. Electronic stability control, traction control, and antilock brakes help end the main problem of rear-drive V8s of old: the tendency for the rear to swing around in excessive oversteer, sometimes spinning the driver in a full circle.
Though Chrysler had already chosen rear wheel drive before the merger, hooking up with Mercedes allowed (some say forced) the use of existing technologies, including a low-end version of the Mercedes E-class automatic transmission, and versions of Mercedes' stability control, steering, front suspensions, electronics, rear suspensions, and seats. It is hard to tell how much - if any - this has saved (or cost) in development, since DaimlerChrysler was always working hard to justify the takeover of Chrysler Corporation in the face of stockholder lawsuits. Now that the companies are split, many are watching to see if or when the Mercedes technologies will be jettisoned; development using them might be too advanced for the LY to move away.
Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President of Design, said the design objective "was to break away from the pack." Dodge Magnum SRT-8's long hood and clean, sweeping roofline hint at the performance and power underneath the exterior of this concept vehicle. Deep-dish wheels push out of massive wheel arches and combine with a large grille to visually plant the Magnum SRT-8 on the road. Dodge Magnum sports a bold front grille with machined aluminum accents, and its fascia features large openings with fog lamps and high-intensity discharge headlamps pushed to the corners of the front fascia. Park and turn lamps are created by thin amber neon lines beneath each headlamp. There are four headlamps - two normal, two "brights."
Muscular 20-inch wheels make room for some serious brake hardware and high-performance tires. These deep-dish split five-spoke wheels are wider at the rear of the Magnum SRT-8 to help transfer power to the road.
The low glass-to-body ratio gives Dodge Magnum SRT-8 a protective appearance. Brushed aluminum body-side moldings are simple yet accent the serious nature of the vehicle. Thick, bold door handles are integrated and easy to grip.
An unusually large cargo opening is created by hinging the top of the rear gate midway between the C- and D-pillar. Surrounding the cargo gate, the rear tail lamps are pushed to the corners to maximize functionality while accentuating the vehicle's wide stance. A large, protective rear bumper tops dual exhaust pipes, emphasizing Dodge Magnum SRT-8's HEMI V-8 performance.
The interior matches the exterior, with machined aluminum accents, tunneled gauges, and drilled pedals contrasting with leather seat covers. Seats are over two inches higher than in the current LH models for easier entry and exit. The Magnum is finished in dark grey leather with ochre accents, and the instrument panel and door trim are two-tone grey. The steering wheel has three brushed aluminum spokes. Four competition-style gauges with aluminum accent rings are designed to remind drivers of the Viper, while the center stack includes a navigation system.
The 60/40 split rear seats stow in the floor and feature a fold-out armrest. The flexible rear cargo area features an upper floor to create a flat-load floor with the rear seats stowed in the forward position. Storage on both sides of the floor offer deep pockets rearward of the wheels. A small, removable cooler docks into an electrical connector on the left side of the compartment to keep items cold.
Transmission: Electronically-controlled five-speed automatic with AutoStick
Engine: 5.7 Hemi, supercharged for 430 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque
Wheelbase: 120.0 inches (3,048mm)
Suspension and tires:
Front: Short-and long-arm
Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.