The Dodge Heritage Series: Part 6, 1970-1979

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.







  • Pingback: The Dodge Heritage Series: Part 6, 1970-1979 | Bensoncdj's Blog()

  • epicurus

    I owned a 79 Dodge Magnum that I bought used in 85. It was dark blue with a white vinyl roof-very nice looking car. Someone had removed all the air conditioning parts. Not just disconnected, but actually removed, so that was a bit of a downer. I didn’t think it was worth the bother or expense to replace (I don’t live in a hot climate. It’s really only super hot about 15 days a year).
    One night in late fall I washed the car then was driving home from my parents and the car went dead. Or at least the ignition. Dead on the highway in the dark. My dad came and towed me home. Next day we towed it to the dodge dealer and it turns out the headlight door motor had burned or shorted out, and that motor was on the same circuit as the ignition. I like Dodge but man, I think that was bad design. Don’t hook essential things up to non essential.


    They just made a Dodge version of the Cordoba. Then they put clear plastic headlight doors over the headlights which just burned out and caused ignition problems. Why not just leave the clear plastic over the headlights like they do now and then you wouldn’t need any electric motors? They would have looked better and sold more if the headlight covers were the color of the car. The years of Lean burn and no power. My buddy blew the 400 cast crank motor and was able to salvage it and make it a stroker motor with a forged crank. Beefed up the tranny and replaced the rearend with a Dana 60. He still has that car and It runs like a ’69 440 six pack Charger with a plush Corinthian leather interior. Very fast with a very smooth ride. The cars today are much too stiff with the low profile tires. The air in the tires cushioned the bumps.

  • SRT10 RAM

    Remove lean burn,add orange box,better carb..
    I like the door cover’s,painted doesn’t look as good ,seen some over the years…
    My parents owned a 78 Magnum (bought new,well dealer demo) and we had no headlight door problems,it was the same headlight door motor as a 60’s-early 70’s and big Chrysler 300’s Charger !!!
    Just kept the headlight doors greased up so they would open/shut smoothly..We owned a total of 5 Magnum’s over the years..still have 1.
    Did you know you could remove the lean burn (actually was mostly the carb that zapped power) but you add a Mopar orange box and the cars wake up..
    My parents had a 78 Magnum X.E with GT fender flares,tach 150 mph speedo,console and with a 400,4bbl,duel exhaust,removed cats ect..removed lean burn in 1979..the car burned had 3.21 ordered with trailer tow prep..most had 2.45 rear axle..Lots of tire burning power from the start,high 13’s to low 14’s and passing power that you would be hard pressed to tell its a smog motor,minus the lean burn..
    They still own it today..though it doesn’t get driven hard..They are retired so they see little tire burning duty today,though its rebuilt and quicker than ever.
    I had a 79 with a 360 2bbl I removed lean burn and with the 2.45 rear axle it ran 15.40’s in the 1/4 mile,stock 360 2bbl (carb from a earlier non lean burn truck) 904 auto,2.45 rear axle ,orange box ecu and added duel exhaust,with truck exhaust manifolds..I never did reach top speed I buried the 100 mph speedo and it kept going,going, Dad’s has the 150 mph speedo,wish I had that speedo..I buried the 150 on my stock 68 Charger RT ,3.23 years ago,still have the car solid 12’s in the 1/4 bought it in the late 80’s,ran 13’s with tires spinning,better tires over the years brought he 1/4 time down to 12.80’s bone stock,good tires still spins past the 60 ft mark on its stock engine,just headers that were added by the 1st owner in 1972,then new ones by myself in 88,94,00 and 2010 ! Time for a rebuild now so it can run high 11’s to low 12’s ..engine still has 130-140 compression,I cant believe how I didn’t blow it up over the years and 110,000 miles of racing,burnouts,rolling burnouts mostly,and flooring it..though only a nice weather car..and had many other Mopars to thrash on,this was and is my baby..
    Later added a 4bbl on the 360 and it must have ran 14’s as it could hang with the early 90’s 5.0 Mustang LX 5spd coupes with chips/headers ,my parents 4004bbl,727 Magnum was quicker (must have been a solid low 14 sec car to high 13’s) Good for a low compression stock engine..By the way it had 290,000 miles when they decided to rebuild the engine,in the late 90’s purple cam higher compression..,5 digit odometer so after 99,999 it rolled back to 0 again..I put 70,000 on mine in 5 years,used as a second car always reliable,kept buying Turbo Mopar cars then selling them,old Cuda’s,Challenger’s,Chargers and flipped them for cash..
    Magnum’s were reliable,good handling cars..neve rhad the door motor issues,but never had one on my 68 68 300 needed a new door motor,my 71 300 always worked fine..My 72 Charger needed one it was removed by previous owner..oh well…
    Do a rolling burnout,dont hold the brake..It doesn’t count when you hold the brake ,you do a rolling burnout,you know you have power !! A 1988 aries can do a burnout by holding the brake,it cant do a rolling burnout,It cant ligh the tires up at 20 mph !! My 440 can !!!