Happy Birthday! Yes, sir, you are 30 years old and it just seems like yesterday that you were born. And you've done so well for yourself. You've influenced many others and made so many folks happy. Who would have guessed that your 30 years on this earth would be so productive. And don't be coy, since everyone remembers when you were born, so you can't hide your age.
Remember your birth notice?
So what did you think I was talking about? Of course, it had to be Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division's Caravan, since what else has had such an impact over their relatively short live. Not only has the Dodge Caravan (and Grand Caravan) spawned tons of imitators, it also spelt the end of the line for the American station wagon as we knew it. This family sized wagon in the top photo became the mini-van in the bottom pic, complete with the absolutely necessary (at the time) imitation wood paneling.
Chrysler Corporation struck solid gold with their new garage friendly van. Even 30 years later many competitors have come and gone, but the Chrysler vans are going strong with about 50% of their market. Not bad for a thirty year old.
If not for one bad decision, Ford might have been the first ones with this great new idea. How so? Well take a look at this concept that was shown to Ford's management in November 1972, a full 12 years before the Dodge Caravan was unveiled.........
Lee Iacocca, the "father of the Mustang", tried to sell Henry Ford II on the idea of a small family van. The big guy said no and that was all she wrote. Iacocca eventually left Ford and went to Chrysler where the mini-van was introduced. Coincidence? You decide.
So thirty years on and not much has changed. Sure the looks are a bit different, the interiors are much better and a variety of techie stuff is now available, but it is still a very practical box. Not sexy at all and many folks hate the thought of driving one, but for a young family, there is no other answer. Well done Chrysler.
So what's next? The Caravan is due to be redone over the next year and Chrysler/Dodge have to try to stay one step ahead of the competition. Well, a box is a box, but this 700C concept shown earlier this year, might hold some clues of where the next Caravan is headed.......
Would this finally be the sexy mini-van, that soccer dads would love to be seen alive in? Time will tell, won't it, but for now let's just enjoy the birthday cake and count the profits.
Until next time.........
- Barry (the Carguy) Thomas
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.