Believe it or not, there was a time when there were no mini-vans. Yup, seems hard to believe. Before the 1980s, the vehicles that families used to tote the kids around were "station wagons". Businesses, because of their need to move big, heavy things, relied on larger trucks and full-sized vans for transportation. Then, in the early 1980s, Chrysler jumped in.

Famed automotive executive Lee Iacocca had just left Ford and the board of directors at Chrysler asked him to take over the helm of their company. Although the company was in financial trouble, a great deal of R&D on their new front wheel drive systems had just been finished. He liked these new models but wanted something new and special. Working with his design engineers, Iacocca supported the unusual idea of car-like van.

This new "minivan" was perfect for families because it had lots of interior room and offered superior gas mileage. And for Chrysler, it could be built a lot cheaper than standard Cargo Vans could. Chrysler went into full production in 1985. During its first year of sales, Chrysler sold a stunning 209,895 minivans under the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager brand names.

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Thanks to: Palmer Dodge for contributing to this article

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