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New Chrysler minivans book: from rejection to a hit

by Mark Swingle on

Perhaps no vehicle was more instrumental in saving Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s than the minivan. The K cars probably got more press, but the minivans made more money.

The minivan idea was kicking around the halls of Highland Park long before Lee Iacocca arrived from Ford—starting as thoughts on altering commercial vans for everyday use. Thanks to some incredible research from author (and Allpar creator) David Zatz, Chrysler’s minivan history is now available in one book, spanning from around 1972 to the 2020s.

This new book covers the minivan from idea to product launch, then from the T115 “magic wagon” in 1984 to the much larger current day Pacifica van. The struggles to get the minivan to market  are documented, included finding a proper platform for the minivan to convincing product management (the prevailing thought was if the minivan was a good idea, GM would already have one). The roots of the minivan originated in the early 1970s, and many of the early development details haven’t been published before this book (including in the prior book, Mopar Minivans)—including sketches from an early designer, which show how the design went from “miniature van” to an airy, dedicated platform.

Rise and reinvention of Chrysler minivans

The big improvements over the years (the extended wheelbase in 1987, dual sliding doors in 1996, Stow ’N’ Go in 2005, plug in hybrid in 2017) are all covered along with lots of other details over the 35 years of minivans.

While the minivan market has grown and shrunk and many competitors have come and gone, Chrysler and Dodge minivans (along with past minivans from Plymouth and RAM) have dominated the market segment—selling 15 million so far. (The subtitle only shows 14 million, because, due to ISBN rules, it can’t be changed.)

If you want some great behinds the scenes info, The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans is the book for you. Even if you’re not an automotive fan, the inside company history is an attraction.

Print book: Amazon ($23.97, color);
Barnes & Noble (screened color, $22.97)

ebookApple Books, $6.99, with lots of photos;
Amazon, $7.97 with fewer selected photos

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