Man Van!

In Get Shorty, John Travolta’s character, loan shark Chili Palmer, ends up with a minivan at the car rental instead of the Cadillac he requested. The rental agent explains, “Oh, you got the Cadillac of minivans.” Even Chili Palmer wasn’t cool enough to make the mini-van a vehicle favored by the mob instead of the mom. Too bad. It could have given a whole new meaning to “family” transportation.

Now Chrysler is rolling out a version of its ubiquitous Dodge Caravan dubbed the “man van.” Basically it’s just a trim package, as described in the Wall Street Journal:

The vehicle will feature a slightly sportier look on the outside, possibly finished off with a black-and-gray interior trimmed with hot-colored stitching on the seats and steering wheel.

Ooooooo! Nothing says manly like hot-colored stitching.

Over the weekend, I pulled the seats out of my Honda Odyssey and hauled a load of debris to the dump. Rough and rugged stuff like the rotted sections of fence I took down. Perhaps it’s not the Cadillac of minivans, but it may be the F-150. It’s a moving van, bus, garbage truck, and movie theater all rolled into one. You can even sleep in the back of it.

On top of that, it’s the most reliable and comfortable vehicle I’ve ever owned.

How did minivans get such a bad rap? Back in the 70s, station wagons were not viewed as suburban mom assault vehicles, but cars for guys. I pity the fool who would smirk at dad’s Buick Estate Wagon.

But still, people see their automobile as something to define them. What a terrible burden. Some guy once referred to my van as “dorky.” No, it’s not as cool as your BMW or Volvo, but on the other hand, I don’t really care what the neighbors see sitting in my driveway. And let’s see you put 1200 pounds of wood flooring in the back of your car.

22 Responses to Man Van!

  1. I have hot-colored stitching…

    …in my pants.

  2. You are treading very close to violating my new comment policy, Mr. Marshall.

  3. Tell yourself whatever you have to to make your van cool. At least it’s not a woody station wagon.

  4. I guess minivan trumps a wagon queen family truckster.

  5. I learned to drive on, and squired my earliest driving dates around in one of these babies: http://www.stationwagonforums.com/forums/gallery/files/2/8/1974_Ford_Country_Squire_2.jpg

    Don’t you get light-headed just imagining the testosterone oozing out such lumbering macho love machines of yore?

  6. I once saw a Volvo station wagon loaded with dirt (or mulch) chugging down the road. It didn’t look like they put a tarp down either. I can only imagine what the interior must have looked like after that.

  7. Just get a real F-150. I had one from ’79-’86. If metal walls could talk…

  8. Wait, new comment policy? What did I miss? Did I read something and completely forget about it?

  9. Yes, the new comment policy. Trying to enforce some community standards and all that. Trial program. Ask Mike Huber about it.

  10. Chrysler shouldn’t call it a ‘trim’ package if you’re never going see any again.

  11. Erin’s Dad: That late entry wins comment of the month!

  12. JES: Those cars were remarkably large. Was once rousted from the back of ours late one night in a Jones Beach parking lot.

  13. Ford Country Squires could be ordered with the 427 Cobra Jet engine. My father felt that if he had to drive a wagon, he wanted to disappear in a hurry. It was funny watching Corvettes get smoked by something with fake wood paneling.

    If the thing got 10 miles per gallon, it meant your trip was mostly downhill.

  14. I was backing the Country Squire out of the garage once and hooked the bumper on the side of the garage . . . rather than tugging the bumper off, it cracked the frame of the house. Now THAT’S a manly vehicle. You just LOOK at a plastic bumper wrong on a typical car today and it crumbles . . .

  15. You couldn’t catch me dead in a mini-van.

  16. 30 years (and 3 kids) ago, I swore I’d never drive a station wagon. Then mini-vans came out. Cool. Loved ‘em – got me out of driving a wagon. No longer need them – so I now drive a station wagon. (Happened purely by chance.) Love my wagon. I would never drive an SUV type vehicle – because they’re just so “suburban” – or whatever.

  17. I hate, loathe and detest minivans and SUV’s (is there a difference) for one reason and one reason only — you can’t see around the damned things!

    As a pedestrian and a fairly crippled one at that, this is the major bug up — well, since Rob’s got a new comment moderation policy I won’t finish that sentence. They’re just big and bulky and impossible to see over or around if you’re waiting to cross or parked and it’s like they know that and think it’s funny. What is the deal with drivers thereof pulling into crosswalks and sticking their noses clear out into the street when pulling out of parking lots and the like?

    You can see around station wagons and pick-ups at least. Most pick-ups. What is with these new huge out-sized ones that ginormous and are even worse to see/get around than the SUV’s?

    I know, Tim Allen. More power. It’s a guy thing?

  18. Rob, I’ll drop you off a couple rolls of wood grained contact paper. Or I can stop at Lowes and get you a sheet of knotty-pine paneling. Good DIY weekend project.

  19. Get Real ©: Many funeral homes use minivans to transport clients from the hospital to their workshop, so it’s very possible you COULD be caught dead in a minivan.

    Freddie: I think it would look good in plaid.

    BTW: There isn’t really a comment policy. Just trying to keep KM in line…

  20. Best invention ever? Seats that fold down into the floor. I call my Chrysler Town & Country my transformer. And who do my friends call when they need to move? Yeah.

  21. You’re on, Rob. I realy, really do have a roll of red duct tape.

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