Muscle car wagons are just about as rare as hen’s teeth. The fact is, not that many have ever been built. A current example that comes to mind is the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. Heck, even Chevrolet slapped an SS badge on the Chevelle wagon back in 1973. And just like Rodney Dangerfield, these cars don’t get much respect among muscle car purists. However, one muscle car wagon built in recent years seems to have won over a legion of followers during its brief existence. That car is the Dodge Magnum SRT-8. Think of it as a car with a bit of a split personality. It can be a grocery-getter by day and look great cruising around town at night.
In this edition of the Muscle Car Showcase, we’ll take a look at the 2006 – 2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8. A car that brought the cool factor and a little swagger back to driving a wagon. A car with muscle car looks and performance yet versatile enough for hauling around lumber and tools for those home improvement projects. The Magnum was the best of both worlds. A car that didn’t compromise on performance yet earned its keep by having the ability to haul over 71 cubic feet of cargo.
“If Tim the Toolman Taylor drove a wagon, this would be the one. The entire vehicle shakes when the 6.1 Liter V-8 rumbles to life. And yes, you can smoke nearly any living, rumbling car off the line – many late model Porsches and BMW convertibles included.” John Dickerson, presscottnews.com, September 2010
Dodge introduced the Magnum SRT8 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2005. The car was based on a concept shown in L.A. back in 2003. The heart of this muscle machine featured a 6.1 HEMI engine boasting 425 horsepower mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. Dodge also outfitted the Magnum SRT8 with more aggressive styling than other Magnum trims. Some of the key features include a bolder front fascia and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels.
Just because the Magnum SRT8 is a wagon doesn’t mean it can’t have great looks. This car is definitely not a wallflower. Walk around it and you can see styling cues that actually add functionality to the car. The aggressively styled front fascia houses integrated air ducts that direct air to the front brakes to help keep them cool. Out back, features include an integrated wake modifier and bumper cutouts to accommodate the 3.5-inch bright exhaust tips. Other touches include a mesh grille insert trimmed in chrome, satin-finish bumper inserts, and body-color door handles and mirrors. A welcome feature is the forward-hinging liftgate which opens up and away, allowing access to stow items in the rear without having to back out of the way. This is perfect for loading all those parts and accessories needed for customizing the Magnum. To aid with stability and aerodynamics, Dodge slightly lowered the ride height one-half inch. Color choices for this brute include Bright Silver, Brilliant Black, and Inferno Red.
Dodge outfitted the interior of the Magnum SRT8 in true muscle car fashion. Climb inside and take command in the highly bolstered dark gray front seats featuring light gray suede inserts and contrasting red stitching. Once inside the cockpit, you notice features such as the carbon fiber accented steering wheel, six-disc CD changer, and power adjustable pedals. What muscle car is complete without a host of instruments to keep the driver informed? The Magnum SRT8 features a 180-mph speedometer, tachometer, and temperature gauge to keep the driver up to speed on the car’s performance. Another feature is the satin silver accent pieces on the center stack and console. Drivers desiring a little extra pizazz could check off heated seats, power sunroof, or satellite radio on the option sheet.
For 2008, Dodge gave the Magnum SRT8 a makeover. Highlights include a redesigned hood with functional hood scoop, freshened front fascia and grille, and new headlamps. This transformation gave the Magnum SRT8 even more aggressive styling. Steel Blue Metallic was an added color and TorRed replaced Inferno Red. The interior was also freshened with a new instrument panel and center console. Some other enrichments include carbon-fiber accented door handles and steering wheel plus LED lighting in the front cup holders and front and rear doors.
The heart of the Magnum SRT8 is its 6.1-liter HEMI engine. This engine boasts 425 horsepower and 420 foot pounds of torque. Decked out with an orange cylinder block and black valve covers, this engine is quite a sight to behold. This engine is definitely not like the HEMIs of old. It has been tuned and tweaked in many ways for improved performance and fuel efficiency. In order to increase displacement from 5.7 to 6.1 liters, each cylinder was bored out 3.5 millimeters. Dodge engineers also increased power by increasing the compression ratio from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1. To further bring this engine to life and help it breathe easier, high-flow cylinder heads, a uniquely designed intake manifold, and exhaust headers with individual tubes were utilized. This brute is also strengthened with a reinforced engine block, forged steel crankshaft, and floating-pin pistons.
The HEMI is coupled to a shiftable 5-speed automatic transmission. Known as AutoStick, this transmission offers the driver the option of fully automatic or manual shifting. Perfect for the commute home or when climbing hills and a little extra thrust is needed. Sadly, a manual transmission option was never offered by Dodge for the Magnum.
The Magnum SRT8 features several SRT-modified chassis components to help make it a great performer on the street. Specially tuned dampers, spring rates, and a large-diameter sway bar were installed underneath to help this wagon handle like a champ. Dodge also gave the Magnum SRT8 sure footing by installing 20-inch forged aluminum wheels coupled with Goodyear F1 tires. With 425 horsepower, how do you bring this creature to a halt? Stopping power comes courtesy of Brembo four piston brake calipers and vented rotors on the front and rear.
For their September 2005 issue, Car and Driver road tested the 2006 Magnum SRT8. The results were pretty impressive for a wagon weighing in at over 2 tons. The wagon raced from 0 – 60 in 5.1 seconds and dashed the quarter mile in 13.6 seconds. So, how does it compare to its Charger SRT8 stable mate? The results are practically even. Motor Trend tested the 2006 Charger SRT8 and featured the results in their December 2005 issue. The Charger got a 0 – 60 time of 5 seconds and a quarter mile run at 13.5 seconds. So, who says you have to give up power and performance in order to drive a wagon?
A recent search of auction and classified sites shows prices for a Magnum SRT8 to be fairly affordable. Buyers looking to get one of these high performance wagons can pick one up for around $20,000. And these have somewhat low mileage, too. Some examples we see had around 65,000 miles at this price.
As they say, all good things come to an end. Or do they? With lackluster sales and a sagging economy, Dodge dropped the Magnum from their lineup after the 2008 model year. However, there have been rumors swirling that the Magnum could possibly see the light of day once again. Who knows, maybe one day this muscle wagon will once again roam the streets and cruise the highways.
Specifications (2006 model)
Body & Frame
Type: unitized steel body
Body: sport tourer
Layout: longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
Powerplant: 6.1-liter HEMI V8
Displacement: 370 cubic inches
Horsepower (SAE net): 425 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 420 @ 4,800 rpm
Valvetrain: pushrod-operated overhead valves, 16 valves
Bore x stroke: 4.06 x 3.58 inches
Compression ratio: 10.3:1
Fuel system: sequential, multi-port, electronic, returnless
Maximum engine speed: 6,400 rpm
Exhaust: dual exhaust
Manufacturer/type: W5A580 AutoStick 5-speed automatic with manual control
Final drive ratio: 3.06
Type: rack and pinion with hydraulic power assist
Turning diameter: 38.9 feet
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.75
Front: 14.2 x 1.26 vented rotor, 1.73 Brembo 4-piston caliper
Rear: 13.8 x 1.10 vented rotor, 1.26 Brembo 4-piston caliper
Front: independent SLA with high upper “A” arm, lateral and diagonal lower links with ball joint front knuckle, coil spring over gas-charged shock absorbers and revised stabilizer bar lower “A” arm
Rear: five–link independent with coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers and isolated suspension cradle. Revised stabilizer bar
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 20 x 9 forged polished aluminum
Tires (new): Goodyear F1 three-season, 245/45/20 front, 255/45/20 rear
Wheelbase: 120.0 inches
Length/Width/Height: 197.7/74.1/57.9 inches
Weight: 4,260 pounds
Front track: 63.0 inches
Rear track: 63.1 inches
Headroom: 38.7 inches
Legroom: 41.8 inches
Performance (Car and Driver, September 2005)
0 – 60 mph: 5.1 seconds
Quarter mile: 13.6 seconds @ 106 mph
Braking: 70 – 0: 170 feet