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  • Writer's pictureClaire Marie

The Minivan

Yes, the Minivan. It has become a classic icon of families since late 1983. Love it or hate it, it is one functional vehicle and quickly became synonymous with the Soccer Mom. Fortunately, my experiences didn't include soccer mom duty.

July 1968 North Mills River

In my early years, my family had a Volkswagen Camper Van (the earliest minivan) followed by a station wagon. The wagon was somewhat like the one depicted in the hit comedy "National Lampoon's Vacation" (which coincidentally came out the same year as the Minivan). It's a long vehicle and could pack in a large family, easily accommodating 6 or more. Our family of 6 regularly traveled in that station wagon while pulling a camper and usually with a 7th person along for the ride. As my brothers were approaching their teen years and the camper was getting cramped, my brothers would sleep in the station wagon. As my siblings and I grew, we graduated to a conversion van - the best we could do for a large family with 4 children covering a 9 year age span. Besides, The Minivan (as we know it) had not yet been introduced.

April 1971 Port St Joe, Florida

My first experience with a minivan was after my youngest was born. It quickly became evident that a 2-door car was not the ideal for someone hauling around one child, much less two. At least back then, buckling a child seat in the front seat wasn't a big no-no, but putting one child in the front and another in the back was just a major pain. So, the now-ex set off looking for the perfect family car.

We shopped and shopped. We looked at station wagons - so passe. We looked at minivans - oh yea - that's the ticket. Finally, the ex came home with a nice, white Plymouth Voyager. Unfortunately, it was a no-frills 4-cylinder - you know - the one in the newspaper ad that's used as bait. Can you say slug? When fully loaded and going up hill, a turtle could pass it. But, it was a family car and we desperately needed that.

By this time, the Minivan had been around about 12 years and the body style had evolved to something a little less obnoxious. The lines were a little more aerodynamic and the rear passenger seats could be folded or easily removed. Boy did that make it versatile. Need to haul home a new appliance? Not a problem - just leave the far rear seat at home. A dishwasher or dryer would easily fit. Need to move your mom's china cabinet to a new house? No biggie - leave all the rear seating at home and that china cabinet fits with room to spare.

After making the ex "the ex" and discovering a whole new world with the now hubby, my family was growing quickly and it soon became evident that the original minivan needed an upgrade. (Don't touch me. She's sitting too close. There's not enough room for my feet.) We needed a bigger family car and minivans were still my go-to, although SUVs were starting to become the next big thing in family cars. Minivans are so functional, versatile and roomy. We cleaned up the Voyager (aka The Sailboat) and started shopping. Finally, we found a green Dodge Grand Caravan Sport. Yes, it was a Sport model.

Can you say, "Halleluiah?"

This thing was awesome (if there is such a thing in the minivan world). It could haul around 3 girls, their best friend and all their stuff on a trip to the beach - and still pass other vehicles. This baby had a whole 6-cylinders going for it. It was fast in comparison and just enough bigger that we could even put a full-size sofa in the back when you removed the rear seats. It was nicknamed The Green Refrigerator - you could literally put a refrigerator in the back. Take out all the back seats and it could nearly fly over mountains - imagine a mini-van keeping up with motorcycles going up a twisting mountain road. Yes!

Over the years, our minivans served us well. We finally retired from minivan life when the youngest made it through college. Yes, the minivan transported 3 girls to and from dorms on multiple occasions. It hauled home hay and pine straw for the garden and yard. It pulled the trailer home when we bought our first lawn tractor. It went camping and vacationing. It was a fantastic family vehicle that often substituted for a truck.

Say what you will, but minivans have earned their place in history.

What's your minivan story?

As with all my blog posts, if you enjoyed this article, please like, share and/or comment below.

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1 Comment

Kathi Sturm
Kathi Sturm
Nov 03, 2021

My mom had the same minivan (green even, but I don't think it was a sport model). Worked well when she was helping with my brother's grandkids (her great-grands). 3 of them under the age of 6 at one time. Those captain's seats with room to get in between made life so much easier on her! Great article!

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