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Lee Iacocca gets the American Patriot Award, 2010

story and photos by Hemi Andersen

I was initially contacted on June 28, 2010, by Bob Fria of the Iacocca/Midway Gala Committee. He was interested in using my van as a static display on board the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier, which is moored in San Diego Harbor as a museum. The event was the fourth annual American Patriot Award, this year in honor of Lee Iacocca, who considers the minivan to be one of the major accomplishments of his career.

Lee Iacocca and Hemi Anderson
Lee and Hemi Anderson greeting and getting their picture taken by the USS Midway photographer with the Voyager van as the background.

The minivan was the brainchild of Harold Sperlich, who went to Chrysler after being fired from Ford by Henry Ford II — who also fired Lee Iacocca, prompting Iacocca to join Chrysler as president.

lady libertyI owned this Voyager van for 15 years, and it now registers 248,400 miles on the odometer. I got the van as a result of chance contact with the original owner who chose to sell it rather than repairing it; it is equipped with the unusual Convert-A-Bed option, a second row seat that converts to a fold-down double bed. I decided to replace the original Mitsubishi 2.6L engine as it had seized the camshaft in one of the cylinder head journals and snapped off the #4 cylinder section as well as the water pump drive. I installed an 1987 3.0L which has served me all these years without anything more than valve cover gaskets. (I did go through the 3.0L prior to installation as I own and operate a Chrysler-only repair shop.)


Now for the rest of the story.... as the Thursday morning fog receded.

van in the box dockside
“Van in the box” being hoisted by ship's crane from the pier to the aircraft elevator. Hoping the cables don't snap. Looking down from the flight deck to the van as it rises on the aircraft elevator.
flight deck Lee Iacocca
Parked on deck Here's Lee Iacocca as he speaks to the guests.

It was a great honor for me to be invited to bring my (T115) 1985 Plymouth Voyager to this elaborate event. Of all the people I have known in my lifetime, Lee A. Iacocca is among the top ten. I spent many hours cleaning and polishing this vehicle to make it look as near-original as possible.

1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan

The sign that described the "Magic Wagon" throughout the day and evening.

T115 minivan

with the folding bed

Lee Iacocca, 2010
Lee being escorted to his ride around the flight deck.

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