Monday, December 7, 2015

The Magic Wagon: 1987 Dodge Caravan

In the late 1970s, it didn't look good for the future of Chrysler, but two guys (Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich) pushed something they initially called "Magic-wagons" to the consumer.  The concept was simple, make a van out of an economy compact platform (GM did this with the Corvans a few decades earlier, Ford with the Falcon Club Wagon) but avoid the pitfalls of making them too complex or too truck-like.  Soccer moms around the word rejoiced as the minivan was born.  Find this 1987 Dodge Caravan offered for $2,600 in Columbus, OH via craigslist.  Tip from Justin.


The first generation Dodge Caravan (1984-1990) was built on something called Chrysler's S platform, but it was closely related to the K-platform and used the same quality construction and luxury accoutrements.  For whatever reason the Caravan sold like gangbusters and according to various internet sources over 13 million of these family wagons have been released into the wild since the factory opened.


The seller doesn't disclose which engine powers this beast and it depends on if this is an early '87 or late '87, since the base engine went from a 2bbl fed 96 horsepower 2.2 liter 4-banger to a 2.5 liter fuel injected 100 hp 4-pot, and the optional upgrade engine went from a 2.6 liter Mitsubishi V6 making 104 horsepower to a 3.0 liter Mitsu V6 making 136 horsepower...BUT, with all that in mind, it really doesn't matter because this Caravan has one of those funky shifter things protruding from the floor -- yeah, a manual transmission Dodge Caravan.  Sweet.


See another oddly manual car? Send it here: tips@dailyturismo.com

13 comments:

  1. I love oddly manual vehicles. 1970s sedans especially. El Caminos, Monte Carlos and the like.

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  2. You forgot to include the 2 year (??) available turbo for the ultimate stealth ride. Www.turbovan.net. not sure I realy want to own one, but as noted on enthusiast sites, nothing like making a mustang gt drivers jaw drop...

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    Replies
    1. ...and making front tires spin wonkily, and making transaxle pieces fly in multiple directions...

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    2. The transaxle in these is actually pretty stout. There is a design flaw that allows the spider retainers to back out leading to explosions but a retrofit of a three dollar retainer prevents that.

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  3. Given that thing has had 30-odd years of kids and crap in it, I need to give whomever detailed that thing a call.

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  4. I seem to remember that they were held to light truck safety standards which were not as stringent as passenger car standards. Thus, cheaper to manufacture (ie higher profit margin) but the soccer moms and teams traveled under a false sense of security. Any truth to that?

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    Replies
    1. You may be right; I think they dodged (heh, heh) the 5mph bumper requirement that was still in force at the time they were introduced but dumped shortly thereafter, and they might have gotten a couple year reprieve on the passive-restraint rules.

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  5. I seem to remember that they were held to light truck safety standards which were not as stringent as passenger car standards. Thus, cheaper to manufacture (ie higher profit margin) but the soccer moms and teams traveled under a false sense of security. Any truth to that?

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  6. isn't it more Chrysler popularized the minivan? not gave birth to it?

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    Replies
    1. I would say popularized and half gave birth to the minivan in North America. I remember traveling in Europe and the Caribbean thinking how great their minivans were(don't remember their brands)and why didn't North America have something along the same lines. Iaccoca, I would think was influenced by the European offerings of the time.

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  7. This ticks the nostalgia box pretty hard.

    I got to drive another car that hit a similar spot for me a while back. I couldn't stop smiling for the 30 mintues or so that I drove it. I was still pretty happy to hand the keys back at the end of the drive since like this one it wasn't the kind of car that was actually fun to drive on it's own merits.

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  8. Rethinking Possible.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRIejqAKW3g

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  9. 1987 and the American car industry was already installing drink holders in their cars.

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