Welcome back to the Dodge Heritage Series, a 10-part exploration of Dodge brand history. This is Part 6 in the series.
Evolution was the theme for Dodge in the 1970s. By 1978, the familiar Dodge Charger, the muscle car of the 1960s, had evolved into the elegant Dodge Magnum XE — the refined personal luxury coupe you see above. The sporty V-8 engine and bucket seats remained, but now the focus was on comfort and convenience features, and the Magnum XE proved to be a popular seller in its category.
As Dodge responded to shifting consumer desires, change was the one constant for the brand in the 1970s. The model roster for 1972 included the compact Dart and Demon, the sporty Charger and Challenger, the mid-size, family-oriented Coronet sedan and the full-sized Polara and Monaco. But by 1979, the lineup had an entirely new look.
Among the hottest-selling Dodges in the showroom for ’79 was the Omni, a new kind of car for America. Smaller on the outside than a traditional compact sedan but bigger on the inside thanks to smart packaging, the Omni featured a transverse front-wheel drive powertrain — a first in a domestically produced car.
“A Dodge for every driver” was the brand’s mission statement as the ’70s drew to a close. Along with the Omni and the Magnum, Dodge also offered the subcompact Colt, the perky Omni 024 and Challenger sport coupes and the practical Aspen sedan. The largest passenger cars in the lineup, the St. Regis and Diplomat, were significantly smaller than the big Polara and Monaco that opened the decade. Consumers were asking for more sustainable, fuel-efficient vehicles, and Dodge was listening.
Read Part 5 of the Heritage Series for more Dodge history. Also, be sure to visit the Heritage Wall section of the Dodge Power Rallye Tour, a traveling Dodge-based experience showcasing the best in performance vehicles. You can find the schedule of Tour events here.