Never This Nice: 1985 Dodge Caravan

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Bear with me: a Dodge Caravan? Well, considering how iconic these 1980s people-movers were, I don’t think they’re ineligible from being featured here. Especially examples that are as nice as this one, and evidently shared garage storage with a sweet MG. This Caravan looks like one of the nicer ones left, and you’ll find it here on eBay with a $6,500 ask. 

This Caravan has led an interesting life, sitting in a garage for 14 years before the widow kicked it over to the local tech school for the auto shop kids to wrench on. One of the students purchased the van and the seller bought it from the student. Its off-yellow paint appears shiny and consistent, and the steel wheels and running boards look to be in great shape.

The seller points out that the front features the rare 60/40 folding seat option, but our eyes are more drawn to the interior condition – it’s immaculate. It would seem the first owner didn’t cart the grandkids around as much as he expected. The uncracked dash, thick and soft cloth seats and bushy carpet all make this Caravan interior super inviting.

Out front, the familiar chrome grill and stacked headlamps look nice and clean, and the paint shows well on the hood and leading edge of the roof. The seller acknowledges that the A/C does not blow cold, but really, that’s to be expected; what’s unexpected is the impressive cosmetic condition and unmarred interior. How many can be left that are as nice as this one?

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Comments

  1. jdjonesdr

    I have a hard time believing this will go for $6500, even with the condition.

    13+
  2. Howard A Member

    For what it was intended, I can say, my Chrysler mini-vans were the best all around vehicles I ever owned, and I owned a lot. Doesn’t surprise me these surface in this condition, there must be dozens stashed away in garages across the country. They were THE most popular car ever. Especially with the elderly or families. This has the non-O/D tranny, which was a problem. I had 2 of these, and a 3rd with an O/D trans. That O/D made all the difference,( as usual) and that van had almost 300K when I sold it( different motor, same original trans) Great vehicles, saved Chrysler, and re-defined how we traveled.

    8+
    • whippeteer

      The OD tranny had major problems up until it was changed around 2000 or so. My ’98 was on it’s second transmission when I got it at 85K and that went at 160K. The first was replaced at 20K. I have a friend that went through 4.

      3+
      • Howard A Member

        See, that’s weird. I never had a problem. My Plymouth “turbo” van had the non O/D, and had well over 100K on it, and my Dodge, I replaced the motor, but I know that trans hadn’t been apart and like I say, it had 200K when I got it, ( with bad motor) and I put another 85-90K easy on that van, used it for a daily delivery business, and didn’t have a problem, tranny wise, anyway. Fuel pump, timing belt, head gaskets, water pump, steering rack, axle shafts, different story, but I used that van, a lot..

        3+
      • RichS

        Howard, I had a turbo van as well. Made it pretty trouble free to 205K when something went wonky in the cylinder head and a couple rockers came off. Didn’t have time to mess with with it and donated it to charity for a writeoff. I still miss that van – it surprised more than one guy who pulled alongside me at a stoplight in an attempt to get ahead of me before his lane merged back into mine…

        1+
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Rich, the turbo added 50 hp over stock (150 total) It did give the van a boost.( pun intended) My Dodge with the 3.0 V6 had just as much power and got better mileage, probably because of the O/D.

        2+
    • ulm210

      I had a 98 Plymouth Voyager that the tranny went out at 38k miles (36k warranty)… rebuilt and promptly traded in so dont know how long it lasted after that.

      1+
  3. XMA0891

    When I was in highschool, and these were new, my aunt purchased a top-of-the-line Voyager, complete with wood paneling, from a dealer who was stuck with it.
    It was a very distinct shade of blue that, to this day, those that new her then still remark on. Thirty-plus years later, in profile these look a little cartoonish, but this generation of Voyager/Caravans/TC’s really are icons. You don’t get too much these days for $6,500, I can see someone buying it and (a little unfortunately) driving it into oblivion.

    1+
    • carsofchaos

      that would have been the vaunted Grand Voyager. We had one as well, along with one like the model above, which I believe was just called an SE.

      0
  4. whippeteer

    Maybe if it was the Sport with the 5 speed and turbo… Who in their right mind would pay that much for an old Voyager regardless of condition?

    2+
  5. whippeteer

    I’d rather have the MG.

    4+
  6. boxdin

    As a van converter I bought the first one of these in a cargo version as soon as I saw it at my fav dodge dealer. We converted it and drove it for a couple of years. I had never seen a bench seat in a caravan/voyager until this one, very rare.
    Just a couple of years ago I found and rebuilt a swb voyager w 2.5 4 cyl and a 5 speed manual, it was fun but not enough to keep it.

    1+
  7. Damoncaravanman

    I am a Chrysler minivan fanatic, on my 31st Chrysler minivan (2017 Pacifica) and have a 1985 Plymouth Voyager and my first one a 1985 Dodge Caravan LE. I drive them as my daily drivers and the older ones stay in storage. I saw this one listed 3 years ago and love the 1985 only color of cream as well as the fact it was a strip down. I worked on buying this van 3 years ago from previous owners..who bought it from the local high school who bought it from the original owners……….we negotiated the price to 2000.00 as they only bought it for 1500.00. I never could find the time to go get it and we passed along 45 emails back and fourth over a 2 year time frame, then he informed me he sold it. The current owner wants 6500? If it had 10K miles, then yes, but not after he kept for 1 year, put on 5K more miles to now make it 68K miles. I have seen a few other (under 10K mile) first gen Chrysler minivans and the highest was a 1984 base model 7 passenger Dodge Caravan go for 4800.00! It had 8K miles on it!!!! I love the first gens the most……..we have quite a few in a FB group I started for fun, these minivans are becoming iconic in their own way. I am posting a pic of my 85 Caravan LE in the same cream color and fully loaded for the time. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Chryslerminivans/

    8+
  8. Bob

    I have worked at Tom Ahl Chrysler in Lima, Ohio for almost 35 years, all in sales. I sold the very first minivan at our dealership in the fall of ’83 ….a 1984 Dodge Caravan LE . Sold it for around $4800.00 if I remember correctly. Has been interesting watching the evolution of the minivan and the customers …..from first, then another, then another minivan purchase until the kids grow up and Mom says no more minivans and buys something else. Then they retire, want to travel, become snowbirds, and guess what? Back to a minivan! Lol!

    4+
  9. Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

    In my museum curator days I would have salivated over the possibility of adding an example this nice of an early Chrysler minivan to our collection. Because of how common they once were it’s easy to overlook, but these are very historically significant vehicles. This is well worth preserving in this condition.

    2+
  10. Mr. TKD

    I’m surprised to see so few comments referencing the MG.

    2+
  11. John G.

    I love the fact that a people mover, especially for families, not a single headrest to be found! Getting rear-ended sure would hurt!!! Amazes me how not that long ago our cars were not very safe at all. I drive a vintage car and when people ask me ‘how safe would it be in an accident’ I always reply ‘I would probably die, and that is not a joke’. 🙂

    1+
    • boxdin

      Caravans/Voyagers were all rated as trucks so no headrests.

      1+
  12. Mike B

    More info on the MGB please. (Never a good idea to photograph the sale vehicle near something more interesting.)

    2+
  13. Clay Bryant

    Fantastic rear seat design. People sitting there lost a lot of change down in the seat. Traded for several of these and not a single one was without a dollar or so change wedged in there. Got in the habit at the auction of checking those and after 4 or 5 I defied the old saying, “There are no free lunches”………..

    2+
  14. ccrvtt

    We’ve had a 1984, 1993, & 2001- all bought new for my wife. We still have the ’01 and it’s my winter car. The originals like the one featured were very well thought out from the start and outshone all the competition based primarily on ergonomics and comfort. It was a tough act for others to follow. We’ve had our share of troubles with them but I still think the 2001 Town & Country is the nicest car we’ve ever owned (and I just bought my dream Corvette).

    Chrysler has had its issues over the years but their minivans overall are the best.

    The engineering would be a nightmare but I’d like to see a 6.2L Hemi AWD conversion.

    1+
  15. DweezilAZ

    Ahh, John: but safer than a motorcycle, an original Mini, or being a pedestrian in Tucson.
    Perspective, sir, perspective. Happy motoring.

    Taking my 63 Valiant Signet hardtop for new carpeting today. I’ve driven it 37 years and have never felt unsafe in it.

    It does, however have seat belts.

    Best to ya

    1+
  16. Bob

    I had an 87 I used as a work vehicle I loved it I was able to put full sheets of drywall or plywood and shut the back door with the seats out

    1+
  17. angliagt

    Why is it that the best survivors are almost always
    the blandest colors?

    1+
  18. carsofchaos

    It was a no sale at $5900

    0

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