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Holley Rendered Rides: What If Dodge Brought Back the Magnum AND Made it a Hellcat?

Author: Bradley Iger | Photographer: Rotislav Prokop | 02/12/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home
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I can picture the old advert in my mind’s eye now. It’s from the “That thing got a Hemi?” days: A sleek, mid-engined sports car blasts down a winding, two-lane country road. Suddenly a red station wagon appears behind it, and the two briefly square off before the high performance coupe is overtaken by this supposed family hauler. When the two cars reach the next stop sign, the driver of the sports car lowers his window and asks, “Dude, what have you got in that thing?”


The answer is obvious to any fan of modern Mopar muscle, but the response from our wagon driver is not. “I’ve got an amp, a guitar, a couple of surfboards, a ladder, and twelve 2x4s.” And therein lies the brilliance of the high performance station wagon: They’re every bit as capable as their sport sedan brethren, but they provide the practicality and cargo capacity of a sport-utility vehicle.


The wagon's streamlined silhouette provides a sharper look than a sedan ever could. And with rear-facing cameras now standard across the board, issues with rear visibility are much less problematic than they were back in 2006.


For a brief period of time between 2006 and 2008, Dodge produced a bonafide tire-melting iteration of the idea with the Magnum SRT8. It was a sharp-looking and pragmatic alternative to the mechanically identical Charger SRT8 of the time, but if judged by its sales numbers, it’s pretty clear that America wasn’t quite ready for it. Rumors suggest that less than 300 examples of the refreshed 2008 Magnum SRT8 were produced, making that particular model rarer than a Ferrari Enzo.


But that was then, and this is now. Today, the high performance station wagon is ostensibly its own segment in the American car market, now occupied by European brutes like the Mercedes-AMG E63S wagon, the Audi RS6 Avant, and the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. But those all command price tags which venture deep into six-figure territory, placing them well out of reach of the common man. So, for the sake of the high performance wagon fans of more common means, America needs the Magnum to return with a supercharged Hemi under the hood.

2021 Dodge Magnum Walk-Around

We teamed up with Czech automotive artist Rotislav Prokop to dream up what such a machine might look like. This concept not only provides a visual representation of how rad a factory-produced Hellcat Magnum would be, it also illustrates all of the inherent benefits and potential upgrades that could be bestowed on the Magnum with relatively minimal effort. Remember, the Magnum shared a common platform with the Charger, Challenger, and Chrysler 300, and although it’s been updated significantly in the years since the Magnum went out of production, at its core, the LX architecture that underpins these cars remains largely the same today.


So let’s break down what we’ve got here, and get of a sense of what kind of performance Dodge’s would-be, could-be uber-wagon could deliver if it were just given the chance.


Don’t forget about Dodge’s modern active exhaust systems, either. The technology wasn’t available back in 2006, but it’s standard on all high-performance models offered by the automaker today.


Inside And Out


Although the original Magnum shared the vast majority of its underpinnings with the Charger, it received a unique aesthetic, both in terms of its sheet metal and its cabin appointments. Prokop’s rendering sees a closer tie with the current SRT Charger Widebody, typified by the bulging fender flares, the scoop and heat extractor-equipped SRT hood, and the Charger’s racetrack-style LED tail lights. It all works surprisingly well in long roof form here, aided in part by the slammed stance and additional carbon fiber aero bits installed beneath the rocker panels and front fascia.


As with the original SRT Magnum, the roofline gets an additional dose of sportiness from a low-key spoiler that integrates the third brake light, while the Charger Widebody’s rear brake vents have been beefed up to give the Magnum an even more aggressive look.


We’ll have to do a bit of speculation when it comes to the interior, but it stands to reason that it would fall closely in line with the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody that we recently spent time in. Napa leather, heated and ventilated seats, and SRT’s latest flat-bottomed steering wheel would all be welcome updates that would modernize the Magnum’s interior substantially, as would the feature-packed Uconnect 4 infotainment system and its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.


The original Dodge Magnum SRT8 had a widebody look even before the Widebody package was a thing.


Chassis


The LX chassis has also seen substantial improvements in the years since the Magnum went out of production, particularly in SRT form. Along with an upgrade to six-piston Brembo monoblock calipers and 15.8-inch rotors up front – up from four-piston Brembo units at all four corners – the Widebody package provides room for a massive improvement in the car’s mechanical grip.


The original Magnum SRT8 wore a staggered set of performance tires that measured 245mm-wide up front and 255mm in the rear. Today, fender flares that expand the Charger Widebody’s overall width by 3.5 inches provide enough clearance for the factory to install 305mm-wide rubber at all four corners, and we can only assume the Magnum would wear similar rolling stock. That’s a much bigger contact patch, and with more contact patch comes better cornering capability and quicker launches.


Dodge and FCA at large have also been working with suspension parts supplier Bilstein for some time now – you’ll see their handiwork not only on the former’s high performance models, but also in applications like the new Ram 1500 TRX, which uses Bilstein’s new, super-trick Black Hawk e2 performance shocks. And like those fancy off-road dampers, the units that Bilstein supplies to Dodge for use in higher end Charger and Challenger models are adaptive, which means their stiffness is adjustable by way of the suspension setting selected by the driver, or by the vehicle itself when set to Auto mode.


The original Magnum SRT8 made do with non-adjustable Bilstein adapters, which were designed to strike an all-around balance between comfort and performance. But with a three-mode system like the newer adaptive units used on the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, both the compliance and the body control of a new Magnum could be greatly improved without sacrificing one for the other.

Powertrain


And of course there’s the engine and gearbox to consider. Back in 2006, the 6.1-liter Gen III Hemi was a legitimate force to be reckoned with, dishing out 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque during an era when the Mustang GT was struggling to crack the 300 horsepower mark.


Some considered the Dodge’s Daimler-sourced five-speed automatic to be the weak link in the chain, though. It could be sluggish to upshift at times, and the car’s lack of drive mode settings prevented the driver from dialing it in for more urgent response when the situation called for it. The gearbox’s AutoStick feature was only marginally useful, too. It allowed for semi-manual shifting from the center console, but it was a bit cumbersome to use and had a habit of upshifting on its own anyway.


By contrast, the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic used in modern Charger and Challenger Hellcat models is a massive step forward on every front. The three extra gears allow for tighter ratios, the shift response can vary from comfortable in the Street mode setting to bang-shift-quick in Track mode, and the steering wheel-mounted paddles allow for full manual control over the gearbox. This upgrade alone would make a new Magnum faster, more track-capable, and potentially more fuel efficient.


The Charger’s taillight and rear diffuser design mixes surprisingly well with the Magnum’s hatch and rear glass.


But of course the centerpiece is the new top-dog Hemi. While the 6.1-liter naturally aspirated mill was beast in its day, it pales in comparison to the new supercharged Mopar power plants. We’d assume that the Magnum would receive a near-identical iteration of the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye’s 6.2-liter power plant, itself derived from the limited-production Challenger SRT Demon engine. In the Charger it makes a jaw-dropping 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, which translates to gains of 372hp and 287 lb-ft over the 6.1-liter Hemi.


And considering the fact that the Magnum SRT8 and its Charger counterpart were within a hundred pounds of one another back in the day, it stands to reason that this remastered Magnun SRT Hellcat Widebody would run very similar times to today’s top-spec Charger. How’s a 0-60 mph sprint in 3.6 seconds on the way to 10.6-second quarter mile sound? In this Magnum we’ve cooked up, you could bring along the whole family – and make a run to Home Depot on the way back.


Make it happen, Dodge. The people demand it!

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