Buy/Drive/Burn: Toasting a Luxury Minivan From 1994
When the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.
The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.
Sorry, no Previa for you. Today we’re talking American luxury — even though one of our trio is technically Japanese. Let’s go.
Mercury Villager Nautica
The top trim of Mercury’s Villager (a twin to the Nissan Quest) wore clothes from fashionable suburban mall clothing brand Nautica. Leather seats, embroidery, luggage, and the prestige of white wheels were all ensured by Villager Nautica. Underneath, power was provided by Nissan’s VG30 engine, a 3.0-liter V6 with a timing belt. It’s not as good as a VQ30, and it’s smaller than the V6 engines offered by the other two competitors. Anyway, the Villager has prestige and luxury, and the added bonus of being the less-commonly chosen alternative luxury van.
Chrysler Town & Country AWD
This is the van most luxury customers purchased at the time (albeit perhaps without AWD). Chrysler was killing the minivan game ever since it invented it in the mid-80s, and in 1994 the top trim of the Caravan/Voyager/T&C trio was the Town & Country AWD. Changes in 1994 saw a redesigned dash layout and instruments, as well as standard passenger side airbags in T&C models. The Town & Country is a safe choice; the first minivan to meet 1998 safety standards back in 1994. Underneath is Chrysler’s trusty 3.8-liter V6, in use all the way to 2011 in the Wrangler. Plus, gold lace alloys.
Ahh, the Cadillac of Minivans. Hailing from 1989, the Dustbuster Silhouette is by far the oldest design here. Undergoing a front-end revamp and some trim changes in 1993, our top-end trim specification includes the vaunted 3800 Buick V6. Other highlights include configurable and flexible rear seating, where each rear seat is a captain’s chair. No benches for Oldsmobile passengers! Ride comfort is enhanced by the air ride package, which includes an air compressor for all inflationary needs.
This one’s tough, so where’s your purchase money go?
[Images: Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors]
Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.
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