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Rest In Peace: The Dodge Caravan Is Dead. No, Really, Fourth Time’s The Charm!

Rest In Peace: The Dodge Caravan Is Dead. No, Really, Fourth Time’s The Charm!

It was the home run that Chrysler so badly needed after coming so close to death. The Omni was the proof that Chrysler really was going after smaller, efficient cars that gave the government the confidence to guarantee the loans at the turn of the 1980s. It was the K-cars themselves, the Aries and the Reliant, that were the first true fruits of that labor…small, plainclothes cars that caught on like fire. But the Caravan was an idea that had been in the making for years prior, one that would’ve wound up being a Ford if Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford II weren’t at each other’s throats during that time period. They were the perfect answer to the station wagon and the full-size van: it had the roominess of the van, but it drove like a car, sipped fuel like a car, and buyers responded with their hands holding fists of cash. To date, nearly fifteen million Chrysler minivans, encompassing all of the nameplates used that based off of the Caravan, have been produced. That’s a hell of a run for a breadbox on wheels, and it’s time has finally come to an end.

After managing to escape the Grim Reaper’s scythe three times before (2011, 2013, and 2015), it appears that 2020 is the true date of death for the long-running nameplate. Since the 3.6L Pentastar doesn’t meet California emissions requirements and since now, with most factories quiet due to the pandemic it makes sense to make some changes, the Caravan is wrapped up, with Mopar Insiders claiming that once the month of May is done, so are any orders for Grand Caravans. Replaced by the Chrysler Voyager (itself a decontented Pacifica), the Caravan will go down as Dodge’s best-selling vehicle. Kind of odd to celebrate the Caravan in that sort of manner, but you can’t argue with that kind of success. Many families rocked one at one time or another and if you’re under the age of 40 chances are great that you rode in one at least once in your childhood years. So long, little breadbox.

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7 thoughts on “Rest In Peace: The Dodge Caravan Is Dead. No, Really, Fourth Time’s The Charm!

  1. john

    FCA does it again…instead of ” refreshing/ updating ” the line ,the ghosts of Sergio , like old Italian oligarchs lo it’s head off .

  2. Gary

    It’s also the vehicle that finally unseated the model T for having the most repeat customers!
    I prefer the older, simpler vehicles, being an older, simpler kind of guy.
    I’d love to have my original Voyager in as-new condition again.
    What I won’t do is buy a Pacifica, or any other rebadged Fiats.

  3. DanStokes

    The minivas are just appliances – but sometimes an appliance is just what you need. We had a Windstar (read “Ford Caravan”) and it did exactly what we needed done at that point in our lives. Car folks tend to look down their collective noses at appliance cars but they have their place.


  4. Piston Pete

    I never rocked one but I did rent one to drive to Sturgis for a business venture in the early 90s.
    As far as comfort and roominess it was fine, but that thing couldn’t get out of it’s own way. Maybe it was the 4 cylinder engine or maybe it was the 50 cases of beer, probably both. Come to think of it, it did do better on the way home.

  5. Barry_R

    We have owned a stream of the buggers over the past decade or two. Utilitarian does not begin to describe them. Once you get past the social stigma, you realize that they are nothing short of incredible for household and shop use. One year we loaded up a complete, turnkey, pallet mounted 505 inch 427 Ford into one – forklifted it into the side door. Drove from Detroit to Bill Mitchell’s place in Long Island where we repeated the stunt after running that engine in the Engine Masters Challenge & took it home. Somewhere in his archives Dulcich has it on film…

  6. 69rrboy

    Always wondered what happened to the one I saw run at Englishtown around 1988. It had a 440 mounted mid-ship and I think it was running 11’s. Looked pretty stock until he slid the side door open and you saw that thing sitting in there. Didn’t leave much room for storage space but who cares?! Think it was either gray or blue.

  7. Randy B

    I would never own one, but they sure come in handy as a rental for our yearly cross country trek to Bonneville. Good mileage, lots of room for camping gear and reliable AC.

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