The Minivan: An Anthology of Mythology


What do you do when multiple someones have already trumpeted the thunder of your latest subject?

Well, in my case, I would share some purely anecdotal stories about my family’s three year stretch of endless minivans. Week after week. Minivan after minivan. I bought, fixed and sold over 100 of these Barney themed rides to families and retirees, large and small.

But that’s already been done ad nauseam. Another article like that here would be like finding yourself stuck in the third row of a neglected 20 year old Chevy Astro without air conditioning. It would be a living hell in a highway handbasket.

So instead, let me introduce you to my world of buying and selling minivans to a far broader audience than you may expect. There is a lot of myth that comes with the common perceptions of minivans. Starting with…


Myth #1 : Minivan = Mommy

About a quarter of the folks who bought minivans from me during the 2003 to 2010 period were male retirees. Why? Minivans don’t require much bending to get in or out, and the visibility that comes with sitting high up in a vehicle loaded with big windows is a relief for those who want to see the road ahead.

A short wheel base minivan back in the day usually attracted plenty of older folks; especially those who appreciated the steep one year cliff of depreciation for American minivans. Thanks to changing demographics and Ebay, I used to do a rather large business with the million plus Floridian retirees who were usually within a $69 one way flight to Atlanta.

My wife would follow me in her own minivan with kids in tow to the airport. Once the customer’s plane landed, I would buy a Starbucks for them and wait until the never ending transit system at Atlanta’s  Hartsfield International Airport finally allowed me to offer them the friendly handshake, the Starbucks, and the quick escort to the new vehicle. $2 would already be in one of the cupholders to take care of parking, and that was pretty much it.

A lot of older folks from all over the USA used to also fly down for conversion vans and wagons. San Diego, Tacoma, Maine through New England (where Volvos and large framed traditional wagons were hot), and plenty of nowhere places in the rust belt. They were always spread out. But when it came to sell minivans to the manly man, Florida always seemed to be the number one destination.


Myth #2: The Modern Day Mother Doesn’t Like Minivans

If anything, minivans symbolize practicality and a big fat, “Up yours macker-quacker! I like being a mommy!” to a lot of women who are perfectly happy with the mom image.

Nearly all of our friends with young kids drive minivans because, from their perspective, no other type of vehicle works better for raising a family. Child seats. An endless supply of baby and toddler items. Heck, you can even fit in a kiddie potty near the second row or captain’s chairs if you find that the outside habitat isn’t suitable for children when nature calls.

Diaper genies. DVD’s. Even the ultimate luxury of banning the children to the third row of Siberia is available for you with a minivan.

There is also one other thing which may be a bit taboo for a site like this… conservatism. From my experiences as a car dealer and Dad here in the south, minivans have a fairly loyal following among those parents who are  social conservatives. I can’t say this any other way. When I visit churches out here, minivans are just all over the place. The same thing is true whenever I go to a Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts event: minivans are everywhere.

The rest of the country may be different. But here in the suburban south, minivans are the Chick-Fil-A of automotive offerings.


Myth #3: The Minivan Is Quintessential Americana

So long as you throw a little salsa into that Anerican mix, you are fine. That’s because most of the buyers for my older minivans are… Latino.

When these folks call me, I will always have to figure out two essential questions.

1) Cuanto?

How much?

2) Tiene un licensio de conducir en los Estados Unidos?

Do you have a US drivers license?

They always know the price of course. But Latinos are bar none the most pleasurable demographic group to negotiate with. They don’t do hard sells, phony sells, or what I would kindly term, condescending prick sells.

They look at the vehicle. Do a ‘sweet-sour-sweet’ of good, bad and good, and then make a polite offer. And with older minivans, they usually don’t have to offer very much.

I think minivans have their time and place. Are they my favorite ride of all time? Of course not! But when it comes to the big family dynamic, they are awfully hard to beat.