Curbside Capsule: 1987 Dodge Caravan – Rare Five-Speed Stick-Shift Five-Passenger Version

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(first posted 2/4/2015)    We’ve had a few gen1 Caravans here lately, but they were all the long wheelbase versions, with their inevitable V6 engines, automatics and three-row seating. But in the early years, the Caravan and Voyager were offered in a more…elemental version, including with a five speed stick shift and five passenger seating. They were quite uncommon then, requiring an order as no dealer wanted to stock a stick-shift Caravan. But here’s a survivor, and with the five-passenger seating too.

Strictly speaking, the stick was standard on these, along with the 97 hp 2.2 L four. But as I said, one had to order them, as some friends of ours did in 1987. She was a determined stick shift driver, and was willing to wait almost two months to get her Caravan just like this one.

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The five passenger Caravan had a full-width rear seat, mounted further back than the middle seat in the seven passenger version, making for much better leg room. And it had a very roomy storage area behind it. It really was more like a station wagon, and for plenty of folks made more sense, as the back seat didn’t have to be removed to get any kind of decent cargo space.

Dodge 1984 Caravan 1984 seating

This Voyager brochure shot shows the five, seven and the eight passenger version with the front bench seat, but not the six-passenger one. But a bit of mix and match will take care of that.

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This one’s sporting a front fender from a Turbo Caravan. It appears that a few turbo five-speed vans were made too, but most seem to be automatics. The turbo wasn’t there specifically as a sports model, but purely because Chrysler lacked capacity for V6 engines, and so dropped in the turbo 2.2 as a desperate measure. Full story here.

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Some folks might get excited about finding a hemi ‘Cuda on the street; I get excited about finding a stick-shift five-passenger Caravan. There will always be hemi ‘Cudas around; not so these. And that’s what CC is really all about.