Richard Petty's long relationship with Chrysler ended with the Dodge Magnum, and in fact for the first time since 1960, Petty racked up nary a single Grand National win in 1978 while driving that car. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Magnum comes from that same winless year, but will its price earn the checkered?
For almost two decades Chrysler and Richard Petty went together like STP and bell-bottom wearing TV cops, even driving a ‘Cuda in NHRA during NASCAR's short-lived Hemi ban. But that all stopped with the '78-'79 Dodge Magnum. Sure, the Charger that preceded the Magnum was a tough act to follow on the super speedways, and it really wasn't that the new car was all that bad - it's just that Chrysler's financial woes at the time simply prevented the company from investing in the development of either the Magnum, or that of its 360 engine.
Because of that, Petty left Mopar for Chevy, and pretty much never looked back. But we don't have to be so petty, and can look back - back on today's 1978 Dodge Magnum, a car that sports all the right pieces, and has enough NASCAR bling to give any fan of that moonshiner-born sport a major pants tent.
The Magnum derived from Chrysler's Cordoba, but while that smooth operator had a fantasy island's worth of fine Corinthian leather and Ricardo Montalbán to its name, the Magnum was saddled with a Ziggurat grille, clear fold-down headlamp covers, and Mopar's entire NASCAR bona fides riding on its square shoulders. No pressure, really.
It turns out the big coupe wasn't up to the task either on the track, or on the street, the Cordoba outselling the Magnum by a big margin. That was probably made easier by the fact that Dodge was selling concurrently the Charger which by now was nothing more than a Cordoba with a different grille and badging. The Magnum looked significantly different, sporting not just that more rectangular nose, but also substantially flared fenders, front and rear, as well as a more sporting interior with full instrumentation and an available floor shifter for the standard Torqueflite.
This one has all that plus the vinyl landau roof and T-tops, which together represent an interesting mélange of blast from the past kitsch. Outside it also sports deep dish wheels upon which are mounted some meaty BFGs and a homage to Dodge's NASCAR days of thunder in the form of a massive wing and equally loud and proud DAYTONA tat on each hip. The Magnum may have never made its name on the super speedways, but that doesn't mean, like a lardastical fan rocking his favorite b-ball player's jersey, it can't show its support.
The bodywork looks straight, although the Canyon red paint does seem as though it could use some of that infomercial miracle wax that brings back the luster with just a spritz, if you act now!
No interior shots are offered - never a good sign - but the seller does note the presence of power windows, and locks, as well as cruise control and a factory AM/FM/CB radio, good buddy. It also has the floor shifter for its 3-speed A727, which is apparently bolted to the back end of the reliable as the sunrise 360-CID V8. Unfortunately, atop that 360 is Chrysler's lean burn 2BBL carb, which is like getting an ice cream sundae topped with a hairy cat turd. Drivability issues and a tepid 155-bhp might make that carb a good candidate for the scrap heap, and replaced by a nice 4BBL and better flowing manifold. Anything might help move the car's 3,856-lb weight.
The seller says the tires are new, as well as other undisclosed parts and that the car is in excellent daily-driver condition. There's no mention of mileage in the ad, but you can be certain whatever they are, they weren't collected on the track.
Chrysler's history with NASCAR is rich and deep - Dodge even being the first make to top 200 miles per hour on the big ovals. This '78 Magnum lacks that history and performance, and I fact would struggle to top triple digits, but that doesn't mean it's not of interest, and it does come with that Daytona, and past glories-evoking, wing. But is it interesting enough (remember, t-tops!) to command an eight thousand dollar price tag? That's where the seller has set his starting point, however he does say that he's willing to deal.
What do you say, is $8,000 low enough for this NASCAR never-was put it on your pole position? Or, does that price make you think, like King Richard, that this isn't the year to run a Dodge?
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