Modern Day Unicorn: Jerry Lange’s 2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8

Back in 2004, Dodge announced they were building a new station wagon that was about to take the wagon market by storm. The Magnum welcomed us back to the core of a true American station wagon. The trim levels included the base model SE and SXT (with the 2.7L and 3.5L V6 engines), the 5.7L Hemi V8 R/T and the big daddy of the lineup – the SRT8 with its 425 horsepower 6.1L Hemi V8. Combining styling, power and versatility, the Dodge Magnum was intended to prove that a station wagon could be cool again and that it did; very well.

For Jerry Lange of British Columbia, Canada, his automotive roots are heavily based in the Chevrolet world. Being as he owns a pro-street 1967 Camaro RS/SS, Jerry grew up being a hardcore GM fanatic and drove GM products for years such as a 1990s Chevrolet dually and a 2000 Monte Carlo SS that just so happened to be the first one shipped to the greater Vancouver area. In 2004, Jerry started hunting for a new daily driver, however it needed to be able to do one thing; fit his wife Shirley’s wheel chair in the trunk.

Upon going to the GM dealership and checking out their new vehicle lineup, he realized they didn’t make a single performance car that would fit the wheelchair. So, he decided to check out “the dark side” and pulled into a Dodge dealership. At this point, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser GT was a big ticket item and was selling like hot cakes. Jerry took one for a drive and instantly liked it. To top it off, the wheelchair fit absolutely perfect in the back; sold! Eventually in 2007, after countless road trips to Las Vegas and even Mexico, the PT Cruiser was nearing the end of its reliable life cycle having racked up over 300,000 kilometers on it.

Realizing it was time for a new car, Jerry went into his local Chrysler dealership and noticed a black 2006 Dodge Magnum SRT8 sitting on their used car lot. With SRT’s 425 horsepower 6.1L Hemi under the hood to cure his itch for power and 71.6 cubic feet of cargo room to fit the wheel chair, Jerry pulled the trigger and brought the car home. There was one problem though. Not too long after getting the Magnum home, Jerry found out the dealership had screwed him. When doing the negotiations on the car, he was told it had a clean accident history. Well, that may have been a slight lie on the dealership’s part considering the car actually had around a $15,000 collision on its record! Jerry was absolutely fuming when he found that out so right back to the dealership he went. After scaring some people out of the showroom, Jerry sat down with the dealership owner to figure out how they could solve the problem. It was around this time that Dodge has just released the refreshed 2008 Magnum SRT8; the last year for the Magnum.

For 2008, the Magnum SRT8 was given a full refresh inside and out. Up front, the front fascia and hood were completely changed; now featuring a menacing looking functional hood scoop, HID headlights and smaller honeycomb grilles. On the inside of the car, almost everything was upgraded for 2008. The seats remained the same with the exception of the SRT logos and the interior received carbon fiber trim and LED lighting to name some of the upgrades. Overall, it was quite the upgrade in luxury over the previous model years of Magnum. Under the hood sat the battle tested 425 horsepower SRT 6.1L Hemi and NAG1 automatic “Autostick” transmission that were used in the previous years of SRT8 Magnums. As Mike Accavitti (Former Director for Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing and Product Planning) once said, “The 2008 Dodge Magnum SRT8 is the ultimate package for drivers seeking complete, sportscar performance without compromising family-vehicle convenience and functionality.” That it indeed was.

After some tense negations with the dealership owner, Jerry agreed to let them buy back the 2006 Magnum SRT8 and put him into a brand new Brilliant Black 2008 version; for an absolutely screaming deal. Being as the dealership didn’t have any in stock; they had to try locating one on another sales lot. After some searching, one matching everything Jerry wanted was located at another dealership in the area and brought in specifically for him. It was at this time that “Maggie” – as she has been affectionately named – joined the family. When the 2008 sales year wrapped up, it was learned that Dodge had only produced 239 SRT8 Magnums for 2008; with only 25 units being sent to Canada.

As it turns out, somebody at Dodge knew they would be rare beasts as there is a spreadsheet floating through the modern Mopar world that not only lists every single 2008 Magnum SRT8 built but also lists their color and where they went. In fact, on top of that, we learned while talking to Jerry that every single one built for 2008 is individually numbered on the underside of the hood with the number being etched into the metal. Over the years, the 2008 Magnum SRT8s have earned the nickname “Unicorn” because of their low production numbers. To this day, they remain at the top of the list when it comes to the most desirable Magnum and in the top 3 of the most desirable 2005–current modern Mopars. Their following is very strong and many live and breathe for these cars.

Being as they are pretty rare, many owners tend to keep them bone stock. While Jerry has tried to stick to this, his Magnum does feature some modifications. The 6.1L Hemi remains relatively stock with the only upgrades being a Diablosport Predator hand-held tuner and a functional Airaid cold air intake that sucks air directly from the hood scoop. Under the hood you’ll also find a couple of Billet Technology products such as an oil catch can, SRT engraved throttle body cover and oil cap. For a throatier sound, the exhaust has been changed out to a full Magnaflow cat-back system. If you are looking at the module mounted next to the fuse box, that’s a line lock that’s hooked up with the button being mounted on the gear shifter. Yup, Jerry enjoys his burnouts!

On the exterior, the Magnum looks pretty much as it left the factory back in 2008; until you get to the rear. Out back, the original rear wiper, emblems and lift gate handle have all been deleted and filled for a clean look. A newer generation black SRT8 badge was added and the original tail lights were swapped for smoked LED units. A back-up camera was installed and Jerry custom mounted and tucked the lift gate actuator under the bumper just above the license plate; pretty snazzy in our opinion. The original tires were tossed out and replaced with Toyo tires; sized at 255/45/20 at the front and 295/40/20 out back. On the interior of the car, it looks exactly as it rolled off the showroom floor with the exception of the previously mentioned line lock button and custom embroidered Magnum SRT8 floor mats.

For Jerry, he enjoys driving the Magnum on sunny days and spends countless hours every week keeping it clean. Being parked for winter and only driven on nice days has kept the mileage low and the overall shape of the car in absolute top shape. That’s not to say Jerry doesn’t enjoy the car though as he does put quite a few miles on it every year and just so happens to go through the occasional set of rear tires. Since bringing her home in 2008, Maggie has brought home countless awards and converted Jerry into a true Mopar nut as his car collection now also includes a 2016 Charger SRT Hellcat and a 2008 Caliber SRT-4. He loves everything Mopar and is even looking at purchasing a 1968-1970 Road Runner or Superbird next! Yes, he still has his Camaro.

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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