1989 Dodge Caravan Turbo 5-Speed

The Caravan was a bright spot in Dodge/Chrysler's 80s lineup. Under Lee Iacocca, it debuted in 1984 as a combination of car and truck: the space and roominess of a van and the ride and handling of a car. It was an instant hit with families and the market has never been the same since.

The mechanicals are less innovative, with front engine and front wheel drive. Fortunately, Dodge was also an another kick in the 80s: turbocharging. I guess they figured the way to beat the front wheel blues was add a turbo boost to everything they sold. As a marketing schtick, turbocharging always looks and seems great. I actuality, it can be a mixed blessing.

So it's perhaps not surprising that a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found its way into some early Caravans. Even more rare is to find it mated to a stick shift. The engine was good for about 150 horsepower, not bad for the time. In fact, it felt quicker than some of the heavier rear-wheel drive Dodges of the time. Unfortunately the turbo was overshadowed by the more sensible and powerful V6. Sales dropped and 1990 was the last year for the turbo Caravan.

Early Caravans sold in huge numbers but were always driven into the ground, understandably. That means they're hard to find nowadays. The turbo version is even more obscure, but this one survived.

The seller says this one has minor dings, no rust, no roof racks, a new clutch, struts, shocks, tires, windshield, fuel pump, radiator and more. The say it runs good and was being driven 50 miles a day, but don't mention the odometer reading. They do say it needs paint, headliner and a cooling fan.

This is a fun alternative to your usual dull vans and wagons. It's under the collector radar but with some fresh black paint, armor-all and elbow grease this could make a quirky contender at Mopar shows.

Available here on craigslist in Pemberton, New Jersey for $3,200 firm.

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