By on March 18, 2010

In another of repeated examples of stumbling on a variation of the same car twice in an outing, this Ram Van (later called Caravan C/V) was shot about thirty minutes before today’s featured CC. Caravan C/Vs were never that popular, probably because Chrysler preferred to build more profitable loaded passenger versions. Or was there another reason? After all, this is the Transit Connect of another era.

I bought one of the first long-wheelbase C/Vs in 1987 for the tv station, and it acquitted itself very well, although the young bucks driving it were miffed not to be in a big Econoline like the big stations’ crews drove.

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12 Comments on “Chrysler Minivan Thursday Outtake 2: 1985 Dodge Ram Van...”

  • avatar

    This one looks to be in good shape for its age and intended purpose. The early commercial version of the Caravan was called the “Ram Van,” but later lost the “Ram” designation and was known as the Caravan C/V. Is that correct? It appears this example has the “Ram Van” badge on the right rear.

  • avatar

    These were extremely popular in the northeast, especially the short wheel base model. They were “the” delivery vehicle of choice for caterers, florists, and car dealerships of the eighties and nineties.

  • avatar

    I had a friend in high school whose dad was a general contractor. He had two trucks- a two-ton dumper, and a Ram Van with a roof rack. I think that thing lasted him 15 years until he decided he was too old for the kitchen and bath scene any more.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater


  • avatar


    I think there are several reasons why this particular vehicle never became wildly popular, including:

    1) Gasoline prices plunged to their lowest levels in a over a decade in the mid-1980s; I was reviewing my college-car mileage logs and noted I was paying $.99/gal in 1984 and that was for the “leaded” stuff (1971 detonation-happy Ford 400M). This fact alone effective ended the diesel-engine craze that had started in the mid-70s, and made mid-sized (and relatively economical) utility vehicles less relevant in the marketplace. I’m almost positive that if gas had hit $2-2.50/gal at that time, more people would have seriously considered such a vehicle.

    2) The full-sized Big 3 vans (and their even larger step-van and box-van cousins) still had a lock on the contractor/delivery market. Think of the 1980s mentality–most fleet and commercial buyers were still looking for a V8, RWD vehicle as they had used them for decades.

    I like low gasoline prices, but OTOH, if gas prices had continued the upward 1970s trend throughout the 1980s, things could have turned out dramatically different for the US auto market. Personally I think it’s a real shame that diesel never took off. This FWD Mopar work van with a big-4 or small 6 turbo diesel and an overdrive transmission would have gotten 20s in town and into the low-mid 30s (mpgs) on the highway.

  • avatar

    I think these are kinda cool looking, especially for a minivan. I believe redmondjp is pretty spot on with his assumption on why they did not sell that well. Most contractors and such still wanted or needed a full sized van in the 80’s.
    There were a few of them around in Ohio back then, though. My then brotherinlaw was a plumber and used one for awhile. There is a funeral home that still uses one as a flower car, and they have a late model chrysler minivan hearse!
    It even has a vinyl top with the big carriage bow thingies on the sides, I can’t help but laugh every time I see it. I do not want my last ride on earth to me in a minivan.

  • avatar

    They could haul, however. The one I had with the first wife, fully outfitted for the SCA’s Pennsic War would carry: One homebuilt 12×24 foot canvas pavilion, a complete 12×24′ bolt-together modular floor (wifey didn’t like camping on uneven ground, actually wifey didn’t like camping period – this was the minimum to get her to stay on site and not take a motel down the road), period correct (14th century Burgundian) furnishings for both a sitting/dining room, and bedroom (double rope bed), food and clothing for a ten-day stay (including at least four different suits of court garb for each of us), my complete harness of 15th century Gothic plate armor plus necessary weapons, plus all necessary tools for erecting the campsite. The wife would follow me out to the site in her car, since I had to remove the passenger seat to fit the floor in.

  • avatar

    +1 to Syke for “They could haul, however”

    but it should read: “They could haul ass, however.”

    I had a 87 Ram Van with the 2.7 V6, and with no load other than me in it, that little van smoked an awful lot of cars trying to hole shoot me at intersections.

    Add to that the bonus of laying flat sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood or drywall in the cargo area, and it was an awesome little van.

    If I could find one as nice as the featured one in the article, I would buy it tomorrow.

  • avatar

    I remember a few years back there was a monster truck with this type of body on it. I don’t recall who drove it but it had tank tracks. Does anyone remember who had it and what it said on the sides?

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