Photoshops courtesy of Brendan Saur
Would anyone have purchased a Dodge Wrangler? How about an Eagle Grand Caravan or, horror of horrors, a Jeep Grand Caravan? When Chrysler purchased American Motors Corporation in 1987, such possibilities were floated by dealers and were just as quickly shot down by the very same stakeholders.
Patrick Foster briefly discusses these intriguing proposals in his detailed historical book, “The Story of Jeep”. Dodge dealers were excited at the idea of getting a rebadged Jeep Wrangler to replace the slow-selling Raider, a rebadged Mitsubishi Montero. They were positively salivating at the notion of getting their hands on the hot-selling XJ Cherokee.
Chrysler was more than happy to spread the Jeep love over to its other brands. After all, a vehicle produced in a company-owned factory would be more profitable than a captive import.
Designers would have commenced work on mildly restyled Jeeps were it not for one strident objection of the Dodge dealer group. Sharing may be caring, but Dodge dealers were vocally opposed. “Hands off our minivan!” they cried.
See, if Dodge was to get a Dodge Cherokee and a Dodge Wrangler, Chrysler saw fit to give the new Jeep-Eagle dealerships a minivan to sell. This new minivan apparently would have worn the Commando nameplate and came with all-wheel-drive. Whether it would be a Jeep or an Eagle was something that was actually discussed. Allegedly, this pondering took more than 30 seconds, and somebody somewhere in Chrysler headquarters thought, however briefly, that a minivan would be a logical extension of the Jeep brand.
Of course, Dodge dealer objections shut this thought process down and these rebadgings never came to pass. Next time you see a Jeep Compass and think that was an ill-advised extension of FCA’s SUV brand, remember that someone in Auburn Hills once thought a Dodge Caravan could be a suitable Jeep…