Minivan revolution: The 80s & 90s “mom-mobiles” that took over from station wagons

Retro minivans from the 80s and 90s

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Dodge-Plymouth Vista minivan: Seated 7 (1984)

It’s a whole new idea in wagons — the looks of a van, the maneuverability and mileage of a front-drive economy sedan, the load-carrying smarts of a station wagon, plus a lot of surprises in an eye-stopper called Vista.

The fun begins with the seats. They incline, recline, lean, split, slide and flip-flop in a seemingly endless variation to handle incredible combinations of people and things.

You get in and out through huge front and rear doors. You load cargo through a high-swinging hatch. And everywhere you look, you’re looking out of a window — a big window.

Dodge-Plymouth Vista minivan (1984)

Ford Aerostar mini-van… the new shape of versatilty (1986)

The all-new Ford Aerostar has the most aerodynamic design of all the mini-vans. It does so many things so well — and looks good doing them.

The Age of Aerostar. It’s a new age of versatility. From aerodynamic shape to built-in storage bins, Aerostar is designed to give maximum flexibility to your lifestyle. It’s the wagon for all reasons, all seasons! Aerostar is fun to drive, easy to maneuver, a pleasure to park. It fits in virtually any garage. And its new technology offers features most mini-vans simply don’t have.

America’s most aerodynamic mini-van. Aerostar’s shape does more for you than look good. The unique wedge design gives it unmatched aerodynamics. These aerodynamics minimize interior wind noise and also contribute to better handling on the road.

The driver’s mini-van. The Aerostar driver has a commanding view of the road ahead-and rides surrounded by luxury and comfort Depending on model and options, you can have: Captains Chairs with power lumbar support. A sun roof. Leather-wrapped sports wheel. An electronic instrument panel that reports information from engine rpm to a door Ajar.

The passengers’ mini-van. In addition to luxurious room, rear riders enjoy the open feel and ventilation of sliding side windows. Optional stereo systems include rear
controls — plus plug-in jacks for headphone listening. Aircraft-type heater/air option has rear ducting for all-passenger comfort that most mini-vans lack.

The ride of quality. Aerostar’s luxury-car wheelbase, the longest of any mini-van, contributes to a smooth ride. Yet its overall length of 175″ is shorter than other mini-vans for tighter turning ratios, convenient parking and garageability. Aerostar is built to Ford high quality standards, and is designed to fit into your versatile lifestyle… beautifully. 

Ford Aerostar minivan ad from July 1986

Dodge Caravan: The “funnest” 80s minivan from 1986

Seats in, room aplenty for progeny and peers. Seats out, 125 cubic feet’s worth of wide open space.

Stuff it to the gills with dirt bikes, surfboards, skates and skateboards, trinkets and toys, beach blankets and bingo… you’re armed for a day at the most pacific of oceans.

Caravan’s front-wheel drive ready for a wilderness campaign. Suburban excursion. Or urban safari. It’s user-friendly, super roomy and sedan comfy, just for you. The one and only Caravan, by Dodge. It’s the funnest.

Dodge Caravan - Old 80s minivans from 1986

Nobody does it better… the 1988 Ford Aerostar

America’s best-selling mini-van

Your first look tells you Aerostar is a superbly versatile mini-van, with a style all its own. Its design is sleek, modern, aerodynamic. The wind works for it, not against it. With luxurious touches throughout and its special options, Ford Aerostar is America’s best-selling minivan.

New Eddie Bauer style

This year there’s a sporty Eddie Bauer model with dual front Captain’s Chairs, special two-tone paint, unique interior appointments, and more. It’s Aerostar with the good looks of the great outdoors!

1988 Ford Aerostar minivan debut in 1987

Designed to move you

But Aerostar’s success isn’t based only on distinctive looks. Its standard 3.0L V-6 has multi-port Electronic Fuel Injection for easier starting and smooth running. It delivers a spirited 145 horsepower. That’s greater than any Chrysler mini-van. And it’s powerful enough to tow an impressive 4900 lbs.

Living room

Aerostar’s advanced styling gives you loads of useable space. It comfortably seats up to 7 people. Or remove both rear seats, and create 139 ct ft of cargo space. You can even convert Aerostar into a sleeper with the folding seat-bed option. All this in a mini-van that’s a breeze to handle and park, practically anywhere, even inside your garage.

1988 Ford Aerostar early minivan

6-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty

Covers major powertrain components for 6 years/60,000 miles. Restrictions and deductible apply. Also, participating dealers back their customer-paid work with a free Lifetime Service Guarantee, good for as long as you own your vehicle. Ask to see these limited warranties when you visit your Ford Dealer.

Ford. Best-built American trucks… seven years running

Based on an average of owner-reported problems in a series of surveys of ’81-’87 models designed and built in North America. At Ford, “Quality is Job 1.”

Plymouth Voyager minivan (1988)


The Pride’s Inside Plymouth Voyager. That’s why they offer more choices, more value and more protection than any other minivan. Pride gives Voyager excellent fuel economy: 28 EPA est. highway MPG, 21 EPA est. city MPG.

And it gives Grand Voyager 150 cubic feet of carrying space. Pride built Voyager with long-term quality It has the highest customer satisfaction of any minivan, domestic or import: And pride protects you. Only the Plymouth Voyager Series is backed by a 7-year or 70,000-mile Protection Plan. Examine every dimension of Plymouth Voyager and you’ll see why The Pride’s 7/70 Inside. 

Plymouth Voyager minivan 1988 (1)

Plymouth Voyager minivan 1988 (2)

Chrysler Town and Country – “First luxury minivan” (1989)

It stands to reason that the creators of the first minivan should take the next evolutionary step: the first true luxury minivan.

And it is an impressive step. Seats with an abundance of soft gathered leather. Air conditioning, front and rear. Overhead console with compass and outside temperature readout. Infinity II Sound System. And more. All standard, of course.

Chrysler Town and Country - First luxury minivan (1989)

Dodge Caravan – Vintage minivans from 1989

Dodge Caravan - Vintage minivans from 1989

1991 Chevy Lumina APV minivan

1991 Chevy Lumina APV minivan

Pontiac minivans from (1991)

Pontiac minivans from 1991

Pontiac Trans Sport minivan features (1993)

Pontiac Trans Sport minivan features (1993)

Chevy Lumina minivan (1995)

Chevy Lumina minivan 1995

Chrysler Town & Country minivan (ad from 1995)

Chrysler Town and Country minivan (ad from 1995)

Vintage Chrysler Town and Country minivan interior (ad from 1995)

Ford Windstar minivans (1995)


“There’s no denying

“Ford’s compliant ride that the Ford Windstar is a spectacular highway cruiser.” – AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE 

“The Ford Windstar is the quietest minivan currently rolling.” – DETROIT FREE PRESS

“Windstar may be as close to perfect as any family truckster in production.” – AUTOWEEK

“The Windstar can’t be beat in style, refinement, and quietness.” – MOTOR TREND

“With standard ABS, the Windstar is our star stopper.” – ROAD AND TRACK


NEW QUAD LEATHER SEATING SURFACES NEW FOLD-DOWN SEAT/BED NEW LOAD-LEVELING AIR SUSPENSION while the experts are busy giving us high praise, we’re busy raising the standard even higher, offering new features for ’95. Further proof that the future belongs to Windstar.

Ford Windstar minivans (1995)


The 1996  Dodge Caravan: Just as original as the original

1996 Dodge Caravan ad (2)

The New Dodge Caravan: We thought of everything (1996)

34 more cubic feet of nooks, niches, cubbyholes, crannies, conveniences, comforts, cupholders and cargo room.

Where’s all the extra space? Everywhere. It’s the sum total of conversations with some of our 2 million owners about the things they wanted in the new Caravan, and where they wanted them.

1996 Dodge Caravan ad (3)

Sound-deadening technology like expandable baffling helps make this the quietest Caravan ever. Room for luggage, room for everything. With our unique Easy Out Roller Seats, removing the two benches is a snap.

Adjustable turning loops make seat belts comfortable for just about everybody. The new Caravan even offers a 12-volt outlet near the rear hatch to plug things into.

You’ll find up to 14 cupholders within each reach. The two in the center console are ingeniously adjustable to hold 20 different sizes. Even Big Gulps, juice boxes, and your favorite cup from home.

The new Grand Caravan offers air conditioning units for the front and rear passengers — powerful enough to cool a 1,500 square foot house.

1996 Dodge Caravan ad (1)

Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere minivan (ad from 1999)

Some trips are just more magical… Test drive any new Oldsmobile Silhouette and get a $25 blockbuster gift card free.

ALSO SEE: The classic Wizard of Oz movie: Behind the scenes, cast interviews, costumes & lots more

Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere minivan (ad from 1999)

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