Wanderlust may not be a clinically defined ailment, but if it were, today’s Nice Price or No Dice Dodge minivan might just prove an effective therapeutic. That is, of course, only if its price makes it an affordable prescription.
Based on the comments for last Friday’s 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet, the ugly specter of Porsche’s infamous intermediate shaft bearing failures continues to plague the cars of the early 21st century. (I required an updated IMS as a condition of purchase when buying a 986 Boxster for myself.) The absence of a confirmation that the IMS bearing, clutch or rear main seal had been replaced on Friday’s 110,000-mile 996 model caused many of you to pause. Even more of you noted that it could make for a bargaining point over the car’s $21,500 asking price. Still, the voting didn’t reflect that line of thinking, as it came in at a conclusive 57 percent Nice Price win.
The synopsis for the Oscar-nominated film, Nomadland, is incredibly simple: Frances McDormand plays a widow who traverses the American Southwest in her camper-converted van while occasionally working at an Amazon distribution center. Obviously, there’s more to the film than that simple description, but that gets you the basics without requiring a “spoilers ahead” warning at the outset.
I found Nomadland to be engaging and, as you might expect given the subject matter, heartbreaking at times. One takeaway that escaped me after watching the film, however, was any sense that I wanted to experience the van-living lifestyle firsthand. If the movie had moved me to such lengths, I’d say that today’s 2013 Dodge Caravan camper conversion could conceivably be a means to that end that I might just consider.
At the heart of this 195,000-mile mini motor home is a fifth-generation Dodge Caravan. This model is the last of the line — so far at least — for a Dodge-branded people carrier. Power comes from a transversely mounted Pentastar 3.6-liter DOHC V6 engine. That makes a healthy 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, making this one of the more powerful minivans you could buy. Bolted to the engine and sending all those horses to the front wheels is a six-speed 62TE automatic with Dodge’s funky dash-mounted shift lever. The ad says that the van has seen regular maintenance at a Dodge dealer and is in “great condition all the way around.” An accident-free history is another plus.
The entire camper conversion appears to have been added to the van with limited encroachment on the passenger space. Those passengers better travel light, however, since the luggage space in the back and any thought of loading stuff on the roof has been eliminated by the addition of, respectively, a full kitchenette and roof-top bunk. With the pop-top and the center seats folded out, this van could conceivably sleep four.
The whole camper conversion is claimed to have been professionally installed, and it does look to provide most of the comforts of home save for a private place to do your business. But hey, that’s what Starbucks are for, right?
Both the exterior and interior look to be in terrific shape, save for an odd crease on the bottom of the curb-side sliding door. The only complaint that could possibly be leveled at the interior surrounds the fixed center console between the front seats. That impedes pass-through to the back. That’s Dodge’s fault, not that of the camper conversion, and is a frustration on all up-spec’d Caravans, converted or not.
This camper comes with a clean title and the assertion by the seller that it will get around any sort of RV parking restrictions your city or HOA might impose. The question, of course, is what could all of this possibly be worth? The seller asks $13,500 for the van, and it’s now time for you to weigh in on how good a deal that may be.
What do you think, is $13,500 a fair price to join the camper crowd? Or, does that price have you thinking you’d rather just stay home?
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