Chrysler’s minivans changed the automotive landscape in the 1980s;  the debut of the “magic wagon” created a new vehicle segment that few expected, possibly helping to pave the way for today’s crossover craze.

With the 35th anniversary of the minivan upon us, Allpar founder David Zatz has taken the time to catalog the history of minivan, including the process involved to design, engineer, and produce one of the most iconic vehicles in his new book, Mopar minivans: Creating the first 20 years on Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth “magic wagons.”


The best part about this book is that it provides complete back-story of how the minivan came to be.  With insight from Chrysler employees like Burton Bouwkamp, Milt Antonick, and Bob Steele, the whole story of the minivan is told with historical imagery collected directly from the engineers and designers who were involved in the project. (Some of the material is already on Allpar, but a good deal was added, and the clay-model photos have not been published before.)

But the book does not stop at the design and implementation of the original minivan; it proceeds to move forward and follow the minivan through the first refresh and into the redesign for the second generation version of the van. The personal stories tail off after the 1996 redesign, but the book follows the minivans themselves, in detail, into the Stow ’n’ Go era. It also dives into  engines and transmissions, concept minivans, electric and natural-gas variants, and the plants where they were all made.

Minivan book spread

If you are interested in the history of one of the most influential vehicles ever made, as told by some of the key people in its creation, then I highly recommend this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first hand look at the process of how a vehicle goes from an idea on a piece of paper to become a manufactured trendsetter.

Mopar Minivans is available in paperback and ebook (Kindle format only). The best experience is from the cleverly priced Amazon paperback ; if you can live with slightly less “popping” color photos, the Barnes & Noble version  will be cheaper when it goes on sale. The Kindle version , which omits many of the photos, is just $4.26, or free using Kindle Unlimited.

From the Barnes & Noble cover