By on October 24, 2011

It is not possible for a Chrysler minivan to finish in the top third of a weekend-long race on the car-killing turns and hils of Infineon Raceway, which is proof that this weekend’s race never happened. That means that the performance of the Team Soccer Moms’ Caravan must have been the product of mass hallucination.
This factory-5-speed-equipped Dodge family hauler finished ahead of more than 100 competitors, while remaining nearly black-flag- and breakdown-free all weekend.
The Soccer Moms battled a Colt, a GLC, a Fire Arrow, and an Escort wagon for IOE honors. In the end, even a Fire Arrow couldn’t match the sheer inappropriateness of a K-car-based minivan as a race car. Congratulations, Soccer Moms!

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27 Comments on “And the Real Winner Is…...”


  • avatar
    niky

    Dear Lord… a Chrysler? And a van, to boot?

    Competition to soccer-mom: Prepare for your udder defeat!

    Soccer-mom: How appropriate, you drive like a cow…

    Fantastic result!

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Okay, so assuming the engine with the factory 5 speed is the Renault 2.5L four banger, which had been pulling yeoman duty in every Dodge since the coming of the Omni. It had a suspension from a K car not to mention the frame and is about as sporty as I am Fatty Arbuckle. And yet, somehow, with all the competition, it won.

    I’ve got to get me in a piece of this action.

    • 0 avatar
      LTDScott

      The Chryco minivans NEVER had a Renault 4-banger. AFAIK they were all the 100% Chrysler 2.2/2.5s in both turbo and non-turbo trim.

      • 0 avatar

        I concur, the early Omni had the same VW 4cyl as the rabbit, but after that they all had the Mopar 2.2/2.5

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Was always under the impression from the Chrysler mech that worked on my ’85 Omni 5 spd that the 2.5L engine was a Renault borrower that was built in the US. However, checked up on it and found that he was right in that the 2.5L in the Jeep and Eagle Premier was a Renault; however, that was no the same as the Plymouth/Chrysler 2.5L, previously the 2.2L.

        http://www.allpar.com/mopar/amc-25.html

        Will say that when I bought that car in ’93 some turd had the audacity to put a two-barrel Holley on the throttle body and added an MGD ignition coil. With the right tires the little Omni could scream to 60 in 6 seconds if you shifted fast enough.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @dolorean: Did you read the page you reference in your post? There was nothing on there linking either the Chrysler 2.5 or the AMC 2.5 with any Renault engine. The only thing it noted was that the AMC 2.5 was used in the Eagle Premier, the Renault based car for the then new Eagle division.

        Except for the duty in Dakota pickup trucks, the vast majority of the 2.2′s were transverse engines. I believe the 2.5 never had a longitudinal version at all.

        The early Omni engines were VWs and then they were replaced with the Chrysler (Trenton) 2.2s. No Renault linkage at all.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Stand corrected. Hard to let it go I suppose. Read what I wanted to read into it. Cheers.

    • 0 avatar
      monomille

      I had a 1984 Plymouth Voyager with the optional 1984–1987 2.6 L Mitsubishi G54B I4, 104 hp (78 kW), 142 lb·ft (193 N·m). This was nice engine with balance shafts that worked to give it unusual smoothness for an I4. At high mileage, however, timing chain and carburetor issues eventually prevailed.

    • 0 avatar
      theeastbaykid

      First-gen Mopar minivans were also available with a carbureted 2.6-liter Mitsubishi Astron four-cylinder. I have the childhood memories of sitting on the side of I-80 to prove it.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      geozinger, both the Chrysler and AMC 2.5L 4cyls were had longitudinal applications. The AMC 2.5 was used in the rectangle-light Wrangler. The Chrysler 2.2 was used in the D50 prior to the Dakota, and the 2.2, 2.5, and AMC 2.5 were all used in the first-gen Dakota.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    My favorite vehicle of all time is a 1993 Dodge Caravan with the 2.5 and 5-speed. It’s light, handles like a car, has massive amounts of room, and has the best winter traction of any 2-wheel drive car I’ve ever owned. The 2.5 is an undersquare, long-stroke egine with lots of torque that pulls like a diesel from low rpms. I averaged 29.5 mpg overall (I kept records), and I keep it lovingly in my garage at our permanent home in northern Minnesota, waiting for the day I can rebuild the engine after foolishly ruining it by accidentally pouring brake fluid into the engine. If Fiat-Chrysler could produce a modern version of that van and get away from massive, overweight direction minivan design has gone, it would have a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Looks like Jack has found your next car…

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/review-2012-kia-soul-6-speed-manual/

      • 0 avatar
        fred schumacher

        It’s not the same. The Soul is a 5-seater, while the minivan is a true 7-seater (which means that when the kids are getting rammy, you can put one of them in the “far back”) with 140 cubic feet of space with the seats removed. The dog(s) can lie comfortably on the floor. And the old 2.5 had 135 pounds-feet of torque compared to the Soul’s 112 and that torque came on at low rpm. The van is only 16 inches longer than the Soul. Those older vans were small on the outside but big on the inside.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Bringing a van to Lemons gives you a huge advantage in the quest for nickel grabbing glory. HUGE.

    Prepped and stripped for racing, a van is not going to handle too much different from it’s related car siblings. If you’re reading this and you’re preparing the first U-body dustbuster van to grace the track, I would like to congratulate you on your victory in advance.

  • avatar
    pk386

    Today I learned, TIL, That you could get one of these vans with a 3rd petal.

    WOW Congrats on the win. As bad as these vans are I’ve always had a soft spot for them my mom had a ’91 v6 that we put over 200K miles on and even then it just needed a few things here and there.

    Maybe for a follow up run they can shorten it:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidehike/2275584600/

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Mine was the Plymouth variant, 1992 model, in red. Every stick minivan I ever saw was in red – it surprises me to see a white one here.

    I bout it in 2003. By that time, the junkyards were full of loaded up Town & Countries. All the goodies were plug n play.

    It had seven seats, but I never loaded it that full. I suspect if I did, a lot of clutch slipping would have been needed to even get rolling.

    I did see a genuine 35mpg with it, and quite often. Combined with the 20-gallon tank (so soccer moms with the 3 liter V6 wouldn’t have to stop for gas every day) the van would do an honest 600+ miles per tank.

    What a ride!

    • 0 avatar
      fred schumacher

      I used two five-speed Mopar minivans instead of a pickup in my farming operation. 90% of the time they were better than a pickup, the other 10% of the time I used a one-ton, long frame dually with box and hoist. I would regularly put in 1400 pounds of seed (grossly overloading them) and drive across North Dakota making deliveries. You did not have to slip the clutch to get going. At 300,000 miles, I finally bent the axle on the first one from all the overloading and promptly picked up another one for a song and proceeded to drive that one into the ground too. I would regularly do 500 miles on a tank, with reserve.

    • 0 avatar
      cruz53a

      this is actually a green colored van that we painted white so it will look better.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I love it when station wagons and vans do something that nobody expects.

    I once borrowed a plymouth variety of a similar van from my daughter. I loaded it with tools (my truck was down) and equipment and then went and installed an air conditioning system. After the job I had a hard time convincing myself that I had done that in a 30mpg+ vehiicle.

    What kept me from buying one was the frequent repairs they had to make and the bells that kept sounding alarms.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Two of my sisters have older Chrysler minivans. My youngest and her husband bought a brand new dark green early 90′s Plymouth Grand Voyager and I think it had the Mitsu V6, a good motor but they were prone to burnt valves by 150K or so miles and would begin to smoke.

    I remember my parents borrowing it in 1995 to help move me from Tacoma to Medford OR where I took a job at a podunk TV station.

    My sister kept that van until a few years ago when it finally was replaced by a lightly used 2002 Toyota 4Runner that they still drive to this day with I think over 200K miles on it.

    My oldest sister and her husband bought a well kept fully loaded 88 Dodge Grand Voyager in 1998 and I think it too had the Mitsu V6 and though it was a fantastic van, the motor was getting tired and burned oil to the point that I drove it while my BIL drove the rental van while they moved from Vashion Island to a new house out in the boonies on the way to Hood Canal and I recall keeping an eye on the oil and I think at one point, had to ADD oil, but it ran…

    They finally sold it, it had so many miles it was not funny. They replaced it with a brand new 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport that got totaled last spring at I think well over over 150K miles on it and looked almost showroom nice before the accident when cleaned up.

  • avatar
    cruz53a

    we had a blast this weekend. the van handled great and loved turn 6 where we could make most of our passes, just wish we had more HP to keep most of those passes.

    • 0 avatar
      Victell

      Congrats on your great run. Running a van is definitely inspired. Can you tell us more about it? What did you do to the body? Did you keep the glass or go lexan? How did you get it to handle well?? Also, why didnt you do more mods to get the HP up? I heard these engines are pretty strong and relatevely easy to make more power.

      I think I want one of these vans now…

  • avatar
    cruz53a

    the van has been gutted of all unnecessary weight, i mean everything. we removed wires and connectors from the harness, thats how crazy we got with it. the doors are nothing but a thin piece of sheetmetal, the glass has been replaced with lexan, the suspension is put together using dodge spirit struts with cut van springs and an axle flip with repositioned stock shocks at the rear. the stock spring rates work well with the lightened van. from about 3350lbs stock to about 2650lbs race ready. the engine is bone stock with the exception of removing the balance shafts. we feel that turning laps is more important than stressing the engine with mods, crazy but it works. i think the most important part of the operation is the respect our drivers have for each other, the van and the competition.


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