By on October 9, 2015

1990 Plymouth Voyager

Earlier this week, several friends separately sent me this eBay Motors article, highlighting this relatively obscure performance machine sold at Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth dealers back in the late Eighties.

No, it never carried the vaunted Shelby badges, nor was it an R/T — though one could (and I almost did) buy such a vehicle these days. However, with proper application of a well-stocked junkyard or two (or eBay, naturally), one could easily build a family hauler that could haul down the quarter mile in around twelve seconds.

I suppose the Mopar planners saw a need for more power under the hood of their popular family van, as competitors appeared with more powerful six-cylinder mills. The Turbo 2.5 was likely an easy, if unconventional, fit. An available five-speed manual was just gravy. I can’t imagine how many people would have checked that particular box, but I could only find one such van for sale right now.

With a lonely $500 bid, not yet meeting reserve, this 1990 Plymouth Voyager might never be resurrected into a glorious drag racer. It’d be a shame. Today, all new minivans fit the same basic V6, front-wheel drive, four door, power-everything profile, but there were some interesting choices back in the day.

The K-Car saved Chrysler, that is certain. The company couldn’t have paid off those massive government loans without the sales of the Aries and Reliant. But without the K-based minivans, Chrysler wouldn’t have had the extra cash to bring the world the Neon, the LH, the new Ram, or the Viper.

I’m not the one to resurrect this heap, but I do hope some other lunatic decides to make an attempt.

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35 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 1990 Plymouth Voyager Turbo...”


  • avatar
    Jezza819

    I was with Chrysler from 1978-2006 and I don’t remember there being a turbo Voyager. V6 engines first appeared in Chrysler’s minivans in 1986 so there wouldn’t be a need for a turbo. Dodge always had the more “performance” oriented versions of the minivans and I don’t remember a turbo version there either. Of course that’s nearly 30 years ago now so my memory might be a bit foggy.

    This sounds more like something someone has put together. Sort of like the Turbo Shelby Rampage (mini truck based off of the FWD Dodge Charger) I’ve seen as there never was an official turbo Rampage.

    • 0 avatar
      BDT

      They are a real thing, and aren’t some Frankenstein’s monster. Chrysler did indeed build a turbo van with a 5-speed that anyone could buy.

      • 0 avatar

        I was in Germany in 1992 and saw quite a few of these. I never got tired of seeing a Plymouth Voyager in the left lane of the Autobahn. The Opel Vectra I had was good for maybe 95 MPH and the turbo Voyager would easily pull away from me.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      O ye of little faith.

      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1989-dodge-caravan-turbo-desperate-measures/

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      They definitely were a real thing. The V6 wasn’t available until the ’87 model year with the introduction of the facelifted version. When my parents bought their ’86 (with stacked sealed-beams) in the summer of that year, the biggest engine available was the carburated Mitsu 2.6 4, which made about 110 hp.

    • 0 avatar
      Jezza819

      Well like I said after 30 years my memory might be a bit cloudy but I don’t ever remember us having one of these things. I know for sure that we never had a 5 speed outside of the first or second year model because I was doing all of the ordering by that time and was told NOT to order one.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        One of my Aunts had a late first gen Voyager with the 5spd (but sadly no turbo). Replaced a 4spd Aries. People in Maine like stickshift cars, like our neighbors in Quebec.

        Friend of mine did buy a turbo Voyager a few years back, flipped it for a decent profit. He does that sort of thing.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      A kid I went to high school with parents had a red one, turbo, 5-speed and totally beat up. Even then (18 years ago) you knew it was special.

      I wonder how many are left?

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Yes, one of my best friend’s parents had a Chrysler Turbo minivan. I’m thinking it was a Plymouth. Very fast van, almost hilarious it was faster then their Accord.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Nope, quite a few were sold and a lot were manual IIRC. The turbo had more hp and torque than the Mitsu -V6 which didn’t appear in them until almost ’88.

  • avatar

    I even recall somewhere reading about one of these vans with all the shelby bits installed…north of 200 hp, back in the day….

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    I’d love to have an unassuming one of these for some unexpected hoon.

    I just… you know- would park it away from my house.

    “Who’s van is that? I don’t know who’s van that is.”

    Oh, well. I’ll file this in the same folder which I’ve put my wishes for a 4WD Tercel Wagon (which would be great fun abusing on my family’s acreage). That too probably won’t happen, as the girlfriend wouldn’t want that in the driveway, either.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I had an ’89 V6 Grand Voyager, so I know the V6 was available at that time. I also remember driving a turbo voyavan that a friend was using to tow his trailer around for his custom staircase business. At the time I remember thinking his turbo-4 w/ manual transmission was not as good a vehicle for that purpose as my Ultradrive V6. Maybe I missed something? The V6 had plenty of power for the time period – it was almost (almost) sporty.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    One pic, and it’s not even a woody T&C. Pass!

    Q: Wasn’t there also an AWD version available for a short time?

    It’s funny when you see how small these are compared to a modern van. They’re simply dwarfed. My favorite was the 91-94 version, which had increased trim differentiation, pin stripes, mesh wheels, and two tone/woody availability.

    Especially nice in dark purple with gold stripe.

    http://www.allpar.com/photos/minivans/1992-chrysler.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      People complain about how much pickup trucks have grown, but percentage-wise, it’s the minivans that have no longer become mini. First the SWB models were discontinued, then the bodies got wider. Most of it’s due to the increasing size of child seats, so you can’t really get around it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I was just discussing this yesterday with the lady that cuts my hair, ha. In the 90’s if you had three kids, you could get by with them in a sedan. It wouldn’t be ideal for three car seats, but they’d fit. My mom sat three of us in a Dynasty for a while that way.

        Today, no way, you’ll need a van.

        I also just noticed a gen 1 Legacy wagon parked next to a Cruze outside. The Cruze is definitely wider, and nearly as long as that wagon is.

        There was a pic Chrysler put out of a gen 1 van next to a current van, on their anniversary of the Oshawa plant or Hamtrax or whatever. That was the one I was seeking but couldn’t find.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Here’s one for the 2002 model.

          http://www.allpar.com/photos/minivans/1984-to-2002.jpg

          Though I’m still looking for a 5th-to-1st gen comparison photo, I can say that most of the width was gained from the 2nd to the 3rd gen (the 5th gen is actually as wide as the 3rd, and narrower than the 4th), and the WB is only 2″ longer on a ’15 vs. an ’84 (LWB, of course).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Thanks. The one I had seen was taken in the factory, I’ll try and find it if I get some time today.

            Or I’ll do it right now, lol. Got it.

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/windsor-assembly-plant-readying-extensive-renovation/

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Oh, and in the comments of that article I basically said the same thing I said above. Well, it was only 8 months ago.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        At this point, they are just vans. The only minivan in the US is the Mazda5.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      There was actually an AWD Caravan available for over a decade, from the ’91 redesign until the mid-2000s when the Stow ‘N Go seats came out (which’re incompatible with the rear driveshaft). Unfortunately, 1990 was the last year for the turbo, so they were never available together.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Must have been quite unpopular. I can’t recall seeing one – ever.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          I dunno if there was ever a badge or anything on any of the AWDs, except for the 2nd gens.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            AWD models had “AWD” with All Wheel Drive written underneath it on the liftgate applique for Gen II and Gen III. Some Gen II had it marked on the front doors as well.

            Gen IV has a badge on the RH side of the liftgate.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          It really wasn’t, which I’m sure was part of the reason Chrysler seemed to have no issue dropping it the moment something made that option difficult. But, like drzhivago138 said, there wasn’t much to show the difference (I think by the time the NS’s came out in ’96 until the end, it was just a small black badge on the tailgate).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ahh, searching I do recall this model’s badging for AWD being around.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Dodge_Grand_Caravan_AWD.jpg

            Sounds like they planned to bring AWD back for the next generation? Not sure if this is still true.

            http://www.autoblog.com/2014/02/19/chrysler-minivan-all-wheel-drive-9-speed-automatic/

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          All over the place here in Maine – no big surprise. And mostly LONG gone between rust and transmission issues.

          Friends still have one, though it ceased being able to pass inspection years ago due to rust. They keep it just to haul their boats out of the water – they own an island, but have a small plot of land on the mainland with a garage on it. They keep the boats in the garage in the winter, the old minivan works just fine for hauling the boats up the beach. It is seriously ratty after years of living on a beach, but it still runs pretty faithfully. Probably 20 miles a year!

      • 0 avatar

        My ex and I bought a new short wheelbase ’91 Caravan with AWD. It came with 15″ wheels and about an inch more ground clearance. Other than the POS 604 transmission, which was replaced three times, and a broken rocker arm boss in one of the heads, it was actually a decent vehicle. Great in the winter and fine for rough two-tracks in the Upper Peninsula.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Awesome

  • avatar
    gforce2002

    A good friend of mine had an ’89 version of these (w/automatic trans) back in the day. Once that turbo spooled up, it took off like a scalded cat!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    A secretary at the college I went to still had one of these in a chocolatey brown with burnt orange “turbo” graphics. it was heavily worn and she always drove used. Ironically the van had replaced a even more beat down bustle back Seville.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I had a 1990 turbo Caravan as a rental in early 91. It actually was pretty darn fun to drive. Blue with faux woodie panels.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    When the 2005 redesigned Chrysler minivans came out, the brochure said that the 3.5 liter 250 horsepower V-6 (from the LH cars) would be available as an option with a late introduction. As far as I can tell, that engine never shipped on the minivans. It did ship on the Pacifica. Does anyone know why Chrysler didn’t make that engine available on the minivans. I remember somebody on a message board postulating that it didn’t provide a big enough boost in performance over the 2-valve 3.8 liter, which was rated 220 horsepower at the time – later de-rated to 205.

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