Take one part Grand Caravan and two parts VW diesel - engine and five speed stick - and the result might just be today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe mixed up minivan. Will its price however prove a recipe for success?
They say that plain wrap tastes just as good as the name brand, only for a fraction of the price. While that may be so with catsup and caviar, even being anointed with the plain jane sobriquet “The Car” couldn’t muster up much of anyone's appetite for yesterday’s 1979 Renault's price, falling as it did to a 58% Crack Pipe loss.
Volkswagen was an early proponent of the minivan, and in fact was still offering rear-engined bricks well into the eighties when Chrysler - seemingly ignoring the German's precedent - shocked the world with the introduction of their own small box fare.
Thing of it is, here in the States VW
never offered a diesel version of any of their vans only offered a diesel version of their van for one single model year - 1982.
Today’s 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan (that’s the long-wheelbase edition) seeks to rectify that drought of American diesel minivans through the unholy matrimony of K-car people mover and VW 1.9 oil burner.
It looks to be in better shape than one might expect of a ’95 Chrysler minivan, as these things usually get beat to hell. Sure, there’s the expected miasma covering the too-small headlamps, and a crack in the lower valance, which are both attributable to age. Otherwise it seems to pass visual inspection, and the ad claims the interior to be equally tidy.
The van also appears to be some sort of Sport model, owing to its lower body cladding and blackout trim around the glass. These were never incredibly stylish vehicles to begin with, but the attempt was made to dress this one up a bit, and even if the Caravan was always dowdy at least they were practical.
Back in ’95, when gas was relatively cheap, part of that practicality was an engine range topped by an available 3.8-litre V6. At the time that was capable of 162-bhp and 213 ft-lbs of torque, and when backed up by a standard 4-speed automatic, it drank fuel at an EPA rated 17 city and 23 highway.
Yawn, I know!
The engine in this Caravan is said to be from a 2000 model year Vee-dub, which means it would have been factory spec’d at 90-ponies and 155 ft-lbs of twist. That may not seem like enough to allow the van to get out of its own way, but keep in mind that the 1995 Caravan also came with a 2.5-litre four that gave it up to the tune of 100-bhp and a meager 135 ft-lbs.
Why would one stick a VW turbo diesel in a first generation Chrysler three-row? Who knows? Regardless, the idea of a small van with modest diesel motivation and a manual gearbox - this van also has a 5-speed stick - is something foreign to most American minds, but near and dear to our friends over in Yurrup. And now, you don’t have to be envious.
Of course, in order to quash that green monster, you would have to come up with $3,200 in greenbacks, as that is this oil burner’s price tag. And now it’s time for you to weigh in on that price. What do you think, is this weird TDI K-Van A-OK at $3,200? Or, does that price make this a people mover that’s not going anywhere?
H/T to Tom Bell for the hookup!
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