Choices – 1989 Manual Minivans

Welcome to a new-ish feature on An evolution of a series I used to write years ago, seemingly similar cars are pit against one another in a battle for your affection. It’s like trying to choose your favourite child (although some days that’s easier than others). Your task, if you agree to accept it, is to determine which of the four cars below belongs in each category:

  • One would be your daily driver.
  • One would become a motorsport special (and maybe enlighten us as to what motorsport).
  • One would be locked away in storage for years to come.
  • One would be tossed aside like a bottle of dried up white out. 

So, it is as simple as that. Have fun with the quartet below.

The Contestants

  • 1989 Toyota Van 4WD 5-Speed Manual
  • 1989 Dodge Caravan Turbo 5-Speed Manual
  • 1989 Chevrolet Astro 5-Speed Manual
  • 1989 Ford Aerostar 5-Speed Manual

In 1989 it was possible to buy several minivans with manual transmissions. Yes, you read that right; minivans with manual transmissions. What a crazy time to have been alive.

Gathered here is a collection of those minivans that may share the common trait of a manual transmission. First, we have the Toyota van. Yup, that’s what it was called; the Van. Although technically listed as front-engine, the engine really sat in between the driver and the front seat passenger. It was a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine making the least amount of power in this group. But the Van is the only one to offer four-wheel drive.

Next is a pair of stubby nosed vans whose engines also protruded into the passenger compartment; the Chevrolet Astro and Ford Aerostar. Both offered brawny V6 powerplants sending power to the rear wheels. If so similar, why were both included in this challenge? Mainly due to the fact the Astro and the Aerostar both have devoted followings. Not including one would incur the wrath of ‘80s minivan fandom upon your humble author.

Finally, we have the Dodge Caravan Turbo. A manual, turbocharged, big wagon. That’s all you need to know. 

My Choices

I’ll start with my daily driver. I’m going to go with the Toyota Van. Living in Canada, the four-wheel drive will come handy in the winter (I know, I know, I used to love snow drifting a Safari growing up). Plus, it is just such a cool looking vehicle.

Next is motorsport. Although the turbocharged Dodge Caravan makes the most sense, I’m going another route. I am making the Chevrolet Astro my motorsports choice. The 4.3-liter V6 engine bay is just begging for a V8 motor swap and I plan on making this a quarter-mile monster.

Finally, there is the van to lock in away in storage. Neither the Aerostar or the turbo Caravan are going to appreciate much in money or become collector cars. Both would be cool to pull out after 30 years in storage, merely as a conversation piece. But in the end, I think the edge goes to the Dodge Caravan Turbo.

So, there are my choices. Do you disagree with my selections? Let me know what you would choose in the comments below.

Thanks for visiting

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