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by Patrick Rall
The Dodge Magnum was dropped following the 2008 model year, after just four years of production. Since the muscular sport wagon was killed off, Dodge fans and former Magnum owners have been calling for a new high performance wagon based on the Dodge Charger.
Interest in an updated Magnum is so high that some owners have swapped a newer Charger front end onto 2005-2008 Dodge Magnums, creating their own take on a new Magnum wagon.
Since the Dodge Magnum was killed off, Dodge hasn’t shown any desire to resurrect the sporty wagon (though for some time, they kept making 300 wagons for Europe). While anti-wagon has reversed in the US, FCA has not talked about a new wagon; but if there was an ideal time for it, it would be with the next generation of the Dodge Charger around 2018.
The next generation Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, and Chrysler 300 are widely expected to arrive for the 2018 or 2019 model year, dropping the old LX platform for a new one created by FCA, globally, and first used in the Alfa Romeo Giulia. They may be smaller, lighter, and more efficient; and the new platform will definitely spawn at least a couple of crossovers.
Since the Dodge Magnum was killed off after the 2008 model year due to slow sales, the overall view of sporty wagons like the Magnum in the United States has improved a great deal, as long as they’re called “crossovers” and not “wagons.” Over the past eight years, we have seen crossovers and hatchbacks soar in popularity, giving a new view of wagons that would have been called station wagons back in the Magnum’s day.
The rear wheel drive, Hemi-powered people-mover likely suffered on the sales sheet due to relatively poor fuel economy. Gas prices in the US reached all-time highs just before the Magnum was dropped; a rear wheel drive, V8 full sized station wagon was low on the list for buyers who wanted a people mover.
Most buyers wanted muscle car power with high cargo capacity, not necessarily a large group; and the sleek, low-to-the-ground Magnum had to compete with crossovers even as they were gaining in power. Mostly, and in part because the 250-hp V6 suffered in the heavy four-speed car, the Magnum lost out to vehicles which had far less power, but had far superior fuel economy.
Still, no car in the past 20 years has drawn more unhappy energy from the Mopar community than the Dodge Magnum. It had a muscle car body and powertrain, with impressive passenger and cargo space. That was unrivaled for the price; and to this day, the 2005-2008 Dodge Magnum is a common car at shows and drag strips, as holdout owners keep the idea alive.
One such Magnum fan is Will Arwady, who owns the Magnum-Charger conversion shown here. Will’s Magnum has the front end of a 2015 Hellcat Charger, and he plans to add the Hellcat Hemi itself. Will’s combination is not unique; there are a few Magnums out there with modern Charger fronts. His choice of the Hellcat fascia makes it appropriate for this piece; the car could easily fit into the Dodge lineup right alongside the Charger.
The company isn’t likely to roll out a new Magnum in the final years of the current large cars, but the 2018/2019 set of rear wheel drive cars could be the perfect time for a new Dodge Magnum. The lighter chassis and modern power would increase fuel economy, while keeping the car as fun to drive as the 2005-2008 models — more so, indeed, as the handling is likely to be better.
There is enthusiasm behind the Dodge Magnum name, though it has been close to a decade since they were sold new. A 2019-2020 Dodge Magnum based on the then-new Charger sedan wouldn’t have any real competition among the American automakers, but would be a serious challenger for some of the sport wagons from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz.
Launching a new Dodge Magnum with the Hellcat Hemi and an 8-speed automatic transmission would also make it the most powerful wagon in the world. Dodge loves making “best in the world” claims; right now, they have the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat as the most powerful and fastest sedan in the world, and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat as the most powerful muscle car in the world. They may also be adding the most powerful SUV in the world with the Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Creating the world’s most powerful and fastest sport wagon seems like a logical next step.
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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