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    Thread: 1st-gen Caravan / Voyager

    1. Member Troike's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 03:48 PM #1
      I know I've officially lost it when I am looking at 20+ year-old minivans

      But for some reason (maybe all those Cal Worthington commercials I watched as a child), I have a liking for the short wheelbase, original Dodge Caravan / Plymouth Voyager (1984-1990)
      Sitting behind one in traffic reminds me that it truly is a minivan, and not an SUV-sized vehicle misnomered as such.

      These can now be picked up for grocery money. Obviously a Turbo would not be easy to find nor affordable, but one of the carb'd 4-cylinders or 6-cyl Mitsubishi-powered Vans (per WikiPedia) might make a good runabout for me, as the 99 coupe is not very practical for CostCo / veterinary shuttling runs.

      Apparently the Transmissions are a weak point. I am sure there are many in junkyards, so parts should be plentiful.

      According to this TCL thread, they are the "forgotton sportscar"

      Thoughts?


      Last edited by Troike; 10-10-2012 at 11:19 PM. Reason: bad hotlinks
      << so it Hz >>

      Quote Originally Posted by A.Wilder View Post
      for every good post in this thread there are 10 illiterate people mashing buttons on their keyboard
      my SAAB 99

    2. 10-10-2012 03:51 PM #2
      Find one with a 5-speed. They did make them!
      "This couldn't possibly break, I'll put it way the **** down there." -every German car engineer.

    3. 10-10-2012 03:52 PM #3
      Go pimpin or go home

    4. Member sandiegan's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 03:55 PM #4

    5. Senior Member VWVan's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 04:03 PM #5
      I miss those commercials, along with the Ranier beer ones

    6. 10-10-2012 04:47 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by Troike View Post
      These can now be picked up for grocery money. Obviously a Turbo would not be easy to find nor affordable, but one of the carb'd 4-cylinders or 6-cyl Mitsubishi-powered Vans (per WikiPedia) might make a good runabout for me, as the 99 coupe is not very practical for CostCo / veterinary shuttling runs.
      Unless you're buying from an enthusiast market, the turbo models don't carry a premium. More of them have suffered attrition by now though, and so they are indeed harder to find.

      The 3-speed automatic transmissions in this gen aren't particularly weak. Manual transmissions are fine too (again if you can find one). It's the 4-speed autos in the next generation that failed constantly.

      If you don't have your heart set on a turbo or stick, find the nicest 2.5 fuel injected automatic and buy that. Should give good service for a while.
      call it potatography

    7. Member SidVicious's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 04:57 PM #7
      We bought one for a pittance for our move from Minnesota back to Arizona. It did a fantastic job even though it was over loaded and pulling a UHaul double-axle trailer that was WAY too big for it. It wouldn't go over 60 without getting the shakes(because of the load), but it didn't complain at all. Sold it for twice what we paid when we got here.

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      10-10-2012 05:01 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by Impeccable View Post
      Go pimpin or go home
      I believe the original gen Town and Country is actually the rarest Chrysler minivan because they only made it in '89.

    9. Member Omnilith's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:09 PM #9
      I know this is a second gen, but it is the same vehicle in a mildly revised wrapper.

      This factory five speed 2.5L was purchased for $100:



      I love Caravans/Voyagers. Every time I spot an SWB van, I shout "race car!!!"

    10. Member Volvo_D's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:10 PM #10
      all i know is i had a black matchbox one WITH A SLIDING DOOR. i thought that was pretty cool...then of course i smashed it years later.
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    11. Member rimtrim's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:24 PM #11
      My mom bought an '87 Voyager SE brand new. It had the Mitsubishi V6...I believe '87 was the first year for that. Constant problems with the EFI system, and at 50K miles it was burning enough oil for visible smoke. So, I wouldn't call that the greatest engine.

      On the other hand, one of these vans holds my record for the highest mileage I've seen on an odometer in the junkyard. It was either 376K or 367K, I forget. That one was a 4-cylinder though.

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    12. Member 1985Jetta's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:30 PM #12
      There was a 1990 Voyager on youtube that had a 1.6 turbodiesel and 5-speed out of mk2 Jetta in it. The engine and trans are in a 2nd gen caravan now.

    13. Member bustedbucket's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:33 PM #13
      and at 50K miles it was burning enough oil for visible smoke.
      Yeah, i was just going to say that anyone on the market for most '80s-'90s mitsu/chrysler products should have someone follow behind on the test drive to see not if it smokes, but how much. They do seem to keep on going forever if you keep feeding them oil though.
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    14. Member Omnilith's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 05:38 PM #14
      Your best bet for reliability and serviceability is going to be a Chrysler 2.2/2.5L powered van. Avoid the 2.6L Mitsubishi from the early vans as well.

      That said, if it hasn't been apart in a long time, expect to do a headgasket. Once changed properly and everything is surfaced, it'll never need it again. (on an NA car).

    15. 10-10-2012 05:40 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by Impeccable View Post
      Go pimpin or go home
      you know in that picture the wood paneling doesnt look half bad....i cant believe i just said that
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      10-10-2012 05:49 PM #16
      I grew up in an '84 Caravan and eventually that's what I learned to drive in. I don't know what kind of problems my parents had with it in the ~14 years that they owned it but it moved the family and our friends back and forth to soccer practice pretty well.
      Lately I have been testing "tip-in events". Just the tip-in. Just to see how it feels. Response time is typically on the order of 2-3 seconds. Sometimes the injection timing is a little off...

    17. 10-10-2012 06:23 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by 1995Camry View Post
      you know in that picture the wood paneling doesnt look half bad....i cant believe i just said that
      HAHA Im with you on that one.

      I also like the grille and pillow soft seats, i remember seeing the brochure as kid loving those couch leather seats

    18. Member KahviVW's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 06:28 PM #18
      Hardly see 1st- or 2nd-generation Chrysler vans on the road.

      They were very popular among the TCL old guard in the early days.
      Quote Originally Posted by rich! View Post
      i'd lock this thread but i have no clue how...

    19. Member choochoo's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 06:31 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Impeccable View Post
      Go pimpin or go home
      Go turbo or go home???



    20. 10-10-2012 07:43 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by turbo_nine View Post
      Unless you're buying from an enthusiast market, the turbo models don't carry a premium.

      The 3-speed automatic transmissions in this gen aren't particularly weak.

      If you don't have your heart set on a turbo or stick, find the nicest 2.5 fuel injected automatic and buy that. Should give good service for a while.
      This, this and this. The 3-spd trans is actually pretty stout (especially on the turbo models), so don't be afraid of it. And the 2.5L TBI engine, while only developing 100 peak HP, is actually fairly durable. If you're just looking for a runabout, it will serve you well for many years.

      Quote Originally Posted by rimtrim View Post
      It had the Mitsubishi V6 ... at 50K miles it was burning enough oil for visible smoke. So, I wouldn't call that the greatest engine.
      The Mitsu 3.0L V6 had one weakness: the valve guides. Once they went, the engine would blow lots of blue smoke out the tailpipe. The engine internals weren't actually a problem, but everybody sees the blue smoke and automatically assumes the rings are shot. Rebuild the heads with upgraded valve guides and you're golden for many many miles.

      BTW: this was never an issue on the 2.2/2.5 engine.

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnilith View Post
      Your best bet for reliability and serviceability is going to be a Chrysler 2.2/2.5L powered van.
      Another thing: the 2.2/2.5 engine is outrageously easy to work on. As an added bonus, the minivan engine bay has lots of room for wrenching. The end result is these things are cake for doing your own maintenance.


      Having said all that, go for a turbo if you can find one. Until you do, you have no idea how hysterical this can be:

      Dempsey Bowling
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    21. Member 1985Jetta's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 07:46 PM #21
      I've been thinking about getting a Mini Ram. Only 2.2's and 2.6's offered in those right? Which ones came with tachs?

    22. Member nm+'s Avatar
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      10-10-2012 07:58 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by choochoo View Post
      Go turbo or go home???


      Oh my god. The want.

      I love TCL. We go about hating on new, fast cars, for not having backseats and then salivate over 25 year old minivans.
      Quote Originally Posted by Ducky TSX
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    23. Member choochoo's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 08:08 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      Oh my god. The want.

      I love TCL. We go about hating on new, fast cars, for not having backseats and then salivate over 25 year old minivans.
      Actually, you reminded me of when I had the rear two rows removed from our 1990 grand voyager 3.3L. It was a lot faster without the extra weight. those two benches must have weighed at least 150lbs together. I recall that was a smooth engine. But, that 4spd AT was a ticking time bomb. I think our family went through 3 of them, luckily all replaced under warranty except for the last one.

    24. 10-10-2012 10:17 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by choochoo View Post
      Actually, you reminded me of when I had the rear two rows removed from our 1990 grand voyager 3.3L.
      1990 was the old body style. Maybe yours was a '91.
      call it potatography

    25. Member paradigmGT's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 02:07 AM #25
      I always remembered this commercial as a kid:
      '00 Mustang GT 5MT | '04 Accord V6 EX Coupe 5AT

    26. Member rains's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 02:23 AM #26
      the 1st gen Caravans are neat ... but personally I like the older Chevy Astros. The 4.3 vortex was a decent motor, and if you needed more power, a smallblock swap was quite easy. That, and rear wheel drive made for something that could be modded to be a lot of fun

      my 2 cents
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    27. Member 200HP4dr's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 08:25 AM #27
      I had a couple of refreshed ones. The first was my favorite. A 1994 Chrysler T&C. It was white with the gold package and those sweet fluffy leather seats, a digital dash and a towing package. I bought it for $350 needing a master cylinder and I drove it all over the place. In town, it only got about 17 mpg, but on the highway I could nail down a regular 25. I sold it with 177k miles on it and found it about 2 years later on CL needing a transmission with 225k.

      My second was a 95 Caravan sport with the 3.3 litre. That engine felt taxed and got worse fuel economy than the 3.8. It had 280k miles on it when I sold it, and the guy I sold it to (just over 3 years ago) is using it to haul lawn mowers for his summer business. It has well over 350k on it. I paid something like $200 for it, and I sold it for $650. Great vans. They look great, run great and have a ton of room in them for a relatively small footprint. Oh, and they are absolute animals in the snow.

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    28. Member choochoo's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:09 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by turbo_nine View Post
      1990 was the old body style. Maybe yours was a '91.
      Pretty sure it was a 1990. It looked just like this except white.

      It was refreshed from the original double decker lights

      and it didn't have the slimmed lights of the next generation

    29. Member Troike's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:09 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Omnilith View Post
      Avoid the 2.6L Mitsubishi from the early vans as well.
      well shoot, the one I was about to look at has the 2.6L 4-cyl. (SE, 1987, 3-speed automatic, 142K miles)
      What specifically is bad about them, other than burning oil?

      Quote Originally Posted by nm+ View Post
      I love TCL. We go about hating on new, fast cars, for not having backseats and then salivate over 25 year old minivans.


      Never been a big fan of the Astro, perhaps because I drove a beater one at work once and had multiple friends who drove Astros we lovingly referred to as the "ghetto van."

      The 2nd-Gen is OK, I prefer the styling and size of the original though. If I were going to get a newer Van it would be a Ram 1500, tint it out + throw some beefy tires on it
      Last edited by Troike; 10-11-2012 at 03:46 PM.
      << so it Hz >>

      Quote Originally Posted by A.Wilder View Post
      for every good post in this thread there are 10 illiterate people mashing buttons on their keyboard
      my SAAB 99

    30. Member 1985Jetta's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:12 PM #30
      I'm having a much harder time since I'm really just looking for a Mini Ram. If I were to get an old minivan I'd get an Astro for the same reasons said earlier.

    31. Banned Chris Stack's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:16 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by choochoo View Post
      Pretty sure it was a 1990. It looked just like this except white.

      It was refreshed from the original double decker lights

      and it didn't have the slimmed lights of the next generation
      Pretty sure you'll get herpes and crabs and hep C for just sitting in any one of those three.

    32. Member choochoo's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:22 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stack View Post
      Pretty sure you'll get herpes and crabs and hep C for just sitting in any one of those three.
      :barf:

    33. 10-11-2012 03:51 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by Troike View Post
      well shoot, the one I was about to look at has the 2.6L 4-cyl. (SE, 1987, 3-speed automatic, 142K miles)
      What specifically is bad about them, other than burning oil?
      Every chrysler (and mitsu for that matter) product with that 2.6L eventually ends up sounding like an old sewing machine due to the timing chain stretching. My parents had an '85 with this motor and by 1990 it sounded like ass.

      The motor also just isn't that robust as others. By 1994 or so I forget how many miles the van had on it, but the motor was so worn and weak that a highway grade (think I-8 east of San Diego county or I-15 between Barstow and Vegas) would relegate you to being screaming along in 2nd gear at 45mph just to keep up to not be run over by a semi.

      Carburetors I think I heard are rather difficult to tune as well. The aforementioned Barstow to Vegas grade killed our '85...due to having to rev so hard just to keep 45mph, it overheated and blew a head gasket. After the rebuild (my parents should have just scrapped that car right then and there), the mechanic could never quite get the carb right and the car would stall when warm (tended to run too lean).

      Expect the interior to be thrashed; it just doesn't hold up. Ours lived in SoCal and by the time it was 5 years old, the headliner was falling down (glue for the fabric didn't last) and the front seats looked like a cat used them for a scratching post. My '93 Eurovan by comparison lived for 17 years in NM and AZ heat and sun and has a nearly pristine interior by comparison.
      Last edited by gti_matt; 10-11-2012 at 03:54 PM.

    34. 10-11-2012 03:53 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by choochoo View Post
      Pretty sure it was a 1990. It looked just like this except white.
      In that case it was a '90, but I don't think that generation ever got the 3.3 V6. Only the Mitsubishi 3.0.
      call it potatography

    35. Member clutchrider's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 03:55 PM #35
      F logic. Here is my submission




      I had the matchbox version as a kid

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