Curbside Twofer: Gen1 Plymouth Grand Voyager and Isuzu Trooper II – This Could Have Been Our House In 1990

This is an interesting pairing of cars that represent what was hot in their day (late ’80s): the Chrysler minivan and mid/compact SUVs. The Niedermeyer driveway in 1990 could well have looked like this, as we had a 1992 Grand Caravan and I almost bought a Trooper II instead of our Jeep Cherokee. As to the houses that they’re in front of, I would have been good with those too, but I suspect not so much Stephanie.

Oh, and there’s a Saturn Ion behind the Voyager; my mother had one. But let’s conveniently forget about that.

We’ve written up the gen1 Voyagers and Caravan gobs of times here, one way or another, but my CC on the original (Dodge) version is here. This one is from 1987 – 1990, as it’s a lwb Grand and has the composite headlights. And V6, to boot, either the Mitsubishi 3.0 or possibly the Chrysler 3.3, it it’s a last year 1990 version. In which case it’s also got the A604 Ultradrive 4-speed automatic.

Speaking of, there was a family at our kid’s Waldorf school in the Bay Area that had a 1990 equipped with that combo (3.3 V6 and A604), and for one reason or another, she lent it to me to use for a field trip up to Point Reyes. It was almost brand new, and my first drive in one. And quite impressive it was; my first experience with an electronically-controlled automatic and with overdrive, to boot. Its shift quality was unlike I’d experienced, and its decisions as to when to shift was pretty intelligent. I liked playing with the throttle to say how slow I could keep it in fourth.

I was duly impressed, if not so much so with the interior, which was looking a bit dated. But impressed enough to buy a 1992 Grand Caravan similarly equipped. Which of course went through four A604s in its long and hard 15 years and 170k miles as the Niedermeyer family truckster. That and several ABS pumps, which were covered under a lifetime warranty. Otherwise it was great!

I wanted to by a Previa, but Stephanie really liked the additional cargo room behind the third seat in the GC, which had the biggest capacity of all the minivans at the time. It was able to swallow the big Italian stroller as well as all the shopping and such. And lots of camping and other gear in later years. It was quite the beast of burden.

And in its late years, I’d remove the seats and use it for camping; another in my long line of Dodge/Ram camper vans.

I was quite smitten by the Trooper II when it came out in the US in 1983. I had been bitten by the SUV bug some years earlier, and seriously considered a Scout II Traveler, but it was just too crude for my taste.

I loved its Range Rover rip-off styling; I actually thought it had better proportions than the RR. In its first few years in the US it only came in a spartan two-door, with a rather modest little 1.9 four and only a manual. That was not going to work for Stephanie and the kids that were coming along at the time, so a Cherokee with V6, automatic, and four doors it was.

When the same Chevy V6 in 3.1 L form became available on the later Trooper II,  we actually test drove one. It was decidedly roomier than the Cherokee, as the Trooper II’s tall and boxy body was impressively spacious. And the upright driving position suited me better too. The Chevy V6 was about as unexciting as it was in the Jeep. I was tempted, but there was no way I was going to trade in our three or four year old Cherokee for it.

Not long after we bought the Grand Caravan, and the Cherokee became a little-used third car.

As to the owner-built house, I’ve covered it here before. I like it, but most of you seemed not to. That’s ok,

And there’s even a period-correct Tacoma out front too.