The van that saved Chrysler and changed the way America hauled


Lee Iacocca had been a champion of the Ford brand for 32 years by the time he fell out of favor with Henry Ford II in mid-1978. Ford’s loss was Chrysler’s gain, however, because by that point, Chrysler needed all the innovative leadership it could get. It also needed money and, crucially, a halo car to keep making more of it. Iacocca’s broad, brutal cost-cutting measures helped. So did $1.5 billion in guaranteed loans from the U.S. government.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/10/29/the-van-that-saved-chrysler-and-changed-the-way-america-hauled


LOL sitting nestled between my wifes lifted F 350 and our Jeep Grand Cherokee is a 2010 Grand Caravan that we put on face disguise when we drive it,that said its the swiss army knife of vehicles we hauled everything in that vehicle from hay to a full compliment of relatives its a luv hate relationship but i will say its been a rock very little issues lots of miles on it probably the handiest vehicle we own much better than the Corvette for grocery shopping.R


It’s funny - we bought a 1986 Plymouth Voyager as we had started a family and the Truckster wasn’t available. The family grew a bit and over the years we’ve had a series of 2 Chrysler Town & Country’s and new Pacifica. We drove them all over - on vacation, to the big box stores, I think I wore one out when my son was playing hockey (ever have 3 hockey players and their gear in a minivan for 8 hours? Don’t) and now that we are long empty nesters, the Pacifica is the hauler de jour. We just migrated from people to Great Danes. Yes, the original motor was to say the least underwhelming but Chrysler listened they improved, added more features, added a better powerplant and now a 9 speed trans. The Pacifica seems to be the ride of choice for going to the beach, hauling he bicycles for a ride or even just going to the store. I can’t fit everything in my Taurus and I’m certainly not slapping bike rack on the trunk of 74 Challenger.

it saved Chrysler and made Lido a household name (again). I wasn’t wild about getting the Pacifica (name recognition wasn’t that great) but over 32 years, best series of vehicles we have owned. Well done FCA.


The Chrysler minivan was the bread and butter for our shop for 25 years. Keeping so many customers’ vehicles running for as long and far as they could or wanted to go, then helping them find a ‘new used’ replacement – wash, rinse and repeat. Seeing customers through the growth of their families, spawning the next generation and growing that service family, everything from hauling groceries to church ministries to cargo to daily 200 mile courier runs. Our own 4 wheel drive winter vehicle is a Chrysler minivan – what a work horse! Indeed, saving Chrysler and building businesses and lifelong relationships across America.


Yes the first Caravans were under powered, but in 89 I bought a short box with the turbo and 5 speed manual. If you were doing 50 mph and wanted to pass the car in front, put it in 3rd and step on the gas. Don’t floor it because you’ll go sideways. 75 mph was achieved as you passed the other car’s front bumper. Transmission was notchy and the wife refused to drive it. It was a blast to drive. If you played with the turbo, you paid at the pump. I enjoyed it’s stay with us.


Personally, I always found the first generation vans to be better cargo haulers than the new ones. My '90 Grand Voyager was hands down a better hauler than my '02 Grand Caravan…the boxy shape of the older ones meant you could put stuff right to the outer edges…my '02 has so much tumblehome, and the tail end is raked so much, you lose a load of space. I also find the seats in the first generation vans to be MUCH more comfortable…about the only improvement the new ones have, that I really appreciate, is that the front passenger seat is adjustable, which they weren’t in the early ones…if it came down to a “new” 3.3 first generation van, or a new Pacifica or Grand Caravan, I’ll go with the old one, because of it’s greater utility…the new ones are just loaded with too many useless (to me) toys