Friday, June 25, 2010

SRT-8 Magnum

By now, you should realize that I like cars, and awesome cars are just a bonus after that. I'm also a drummer, and therefore. I need something that can haul my drums around. What really makes me giddy as a school girl is a cool car that hauls drums but can still haul. In the past, I've considered and test fit and drove a Magnum. The car has a good size and decent feel to it, but the one I drove was heavy and therefore, underpowered.

Enter SRT-8. They built a Magnum that had a sporty suspension, big awesome wheels, and a 6.1L Hemi V8 that possessed the car with a convulsive 425 HP rating. Sadly, they only had an automatic trans, but that's really the only major drawback for this car, unless you want to race it. The 4,500 lb curb weight is a bit of a drawback if you were hoping to drag race your cousin's Trans Am down Hwy 100, but that shouldn't be your main concern if you're fool enough to try that specific idea.

From reviews I've seen and the car I drove, the handling has pretty decent grip and remains quite sporty even though it's so large and in charge. The SXT and R/T verions look as though the rims are the wrong size for the car, but a little lowering could fit them in better than stock. What helps the Magnum really shine compared to other rivals like the Crown Vic or the Mustang (full-size RWD and Muscle segments) is the independent rear suspension (IRS) as opposed to the live axle found on the two previously mentioned Fords. The rear wheels don't have any input from the opposite side with the IRS, and that helps to really hug the road and give a mocking slap across the face of the competition. The ride gets the job done while still maintaining a comfortable ride for longer trips too.

The trans is an automatic from some Mercedes sedan. It's not the most race inspired, but it does have the poorly placed auto-stick feature allowing you to shift like a manual valve body auto trans. They really should've added a stick when they decided to on the Challenger. Seeing as they're all the same platform (Chrysler LX), Once the Challenger got a 6-speed, the Magnum, 300C, and Charger SRT-8 models should have all gotten a manual option as well. The sporty options that would've been available with a manual could really make the sales numbers go up, and maybe they wouldn't have had to kill the Magnum again. There are a few aftermarket kits to convert the auto trans to have paddle shifters, but although it is a viable option for what came from the factory, it will never have the feel and wide acceptance of a stick. The best option, for people who want to be really sporty with a Magnum, would be to find a wrecked Challenger with a stick and pull the parts needed to do a swap to a 5- or 6-speed manual as found in the Challenger R/T, R/T Classic, or SRT-8.

The engine is a potent 6.1L Hemi that makes 425 HP and about the same in the torque area. There are countless ways to beef these up and make more power with machining, superchargers, turbos, and nitrous, but there is one thing that I feel really turns me away from tricking one of these out. I don't understand how the 5.4L V8 Ford used in the Mustang Cobra, Mach 1, and GT500 didn't set a precedent when it had the 32 valve DOHC setup - that's 4 valves per cylinder! Even the 4.6 that goes in the regular Mustangs has 3 valves per cylinder. This make power come much easier since there is major room to flow through, but the Hemis (both 5.7 and 6.1), the Viper V10, and the LS engines in the Camaro and 'Vette all use the classic 2 valve per cylinder approach. This, the lower curb weight, booming aftermarket, and the 6-speed manual trans found in the New Mustangs make them the car to hot rod.

The Magnum still has its place in my garage, though. The styling is amazing. Though not as suave ans the 300C and not as badass as the Charger, the Magnum has a sleek look for a wagon that looks appealing, fast, and trendy while not sacrificing cargo room in the rear end. The interior is well appointed and with a high build quality, but the color choices are not as sporty on the inside as on the outside. The bottoms of the door panels are an off-white while the tops are a fitting black or gray. It almost seems as though they tried to follow the trend of accent panels in the interior, but they didn't quite understand how it worked. It's more of a two toned ghetto cruiser paint job inside instead of a intricately thought out accent paint job. I find it falls under the category of "Oh that's neat... but I wouldn't do that on my car." Thankfully, the problem is mostly on the door panels, lower trim panels, and in the trunk area, so the dash, console, and seats are fine leaving one with the easy job of painting over the white by hand. There are cool accent kits for the interior that can be purchased online. There a re a variety of styles that can be had from stainless steel to various shades of wood grain. Other than slight modifications for person preference, the interior is very nice and adequate for daily use.

The body is beautifully done. The front fascia is a bit odd, but it grows on you. the body lines are the same as a 300C, so if you really don't like the from but love the car, you could swap one of those on (beware that there is a head light assembly for the 300C that's really fancy and to replace one assembly costs about a grand). There is very little I would personally modify on the exterior of this car. My list of six mods includes fogging the lights, shaving and relocating the gas cap and tailgate handle, replace the hood with an aftermarket one that has the Charger SRT-8 hood scoop or a shaker hood scoop, and removing the door ding trim. That's it. This car is so amazing from the start that I would barely change it to meet my needs. The stunning beauty of this car doesn't need my assistance to make it turn heads and cause envy.

This car is so perfect for what I need and stifles most thoughts of dropping loads of money into it to "fix" errors I feel were made in the initial design because it is so right on the money. I would be happy finding an SRT-8 to buy (it has to be black) and just adding a hood, move the sub, paddle shift kit, and exhaust cut-outs. I could drive that for a long time before I got tired of it and needed to switch to something new. It's cool looking and fits my drums and three people too!

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