The ownership experience of a Chrysler Town and Country is like being friends with a girl who is a 6/10 on the personality scale and a 5 in the looks department, but you stay friends with her because her family has jet skis and a cottage on the lake. Day to day can be grating, but it definitely pays off.
This particular model is a 2005 Touring edition, long wheelbase. This vehicle was the king of childhood road trips. Astrovans, Roadmasters, Aerostars, Windstars, Silhouettes, nothing could hold up to the Chrysler T/C in my youthful hazel eyes. It had a DVD player, a feature highly debated by my parents, assuming the 7 inch screen would eclipse all that we could see out the spacious windows. It had enough space inside to make our other vans seem small. It had two rows of captains chairs finished in the finest fake leather, rear controlled climate, and the seats folded flat into the floor, while maintaining a low floor for easy loading. Truly, a triumph of practical design. Unfortunately, not a product of reliable engineering.
Which is interesting, because vans are totally engineer’s vehicles. Look at all this stuff you can put in it!
At this point I suppose I must qualify that the van has done about 190k miles. However, it’s probably broken 50 TPMS sensors in that time, such that we simply just stopped replacing them. The body control module broke. The air conditioning compressor has some type of bad bearing, so the van sounds like a pig doing an impression of a diesel engine at idle. The water pump went, a year later the radiator followed. After replacing it, there was still a small coolant leak for a week or two, and then there wasn’t anymore. It has a new power steering pump as well as the reservoir, which is a maintenance part due to the filter in it. Speaking of, do you know what maintenance part is literally non-servicable on this car? The fuel filter. I just replaced the starter, and I’ve never seen the dash without a CEL. Finally, the passenger power window is fond of taking a sabbatical every 7 months.
To drive, it’s pretty terrible. It has more body roll than a fat person pushed down a slope. Weight distribution is all in the nose and very high, like if Danny Thomas were a car. The engine actually isn’t that bad. It’s some old V6 that displaces 3.8L, because every domestic V6 was 3.8L back then. Sure, it’ll be put to shame by a similar vintage Odyssey, but after the race, the Chrysler’s transmission will still work. Anyways, it’s a pushrod engine so it makes good torque from idle, which is what you want.
You’d really think car companies based in Michigan would know to use metal more resilient to corrosion.
Probably the most interesting thing about his car, however, are its owners. Soccer moms are the easy joke here, but the depths of van culture reveal an interesting subset. Of all car related Facebook groups, this van’s is the most perplexing. Enter this group and you will be met with a group of lost car enthusiasts. I haven’t been able to figure out whether they’re truly gathering around this terrible vehicle, or just defending what they’re stuck with, like the child who bought a PSP instead of a Nintendo DS (Poor PSP owners never stood a chance, it’s not like you could brag about how much porn you could watch).
50 year old beards post panoramic visions of Zion canyon ruined by the inclusion of their rusted 96 Grand Caravan in the foreground. The description inevitably reads something like this “3rd Generation 1996 Grand Caravan SE With spoiler option 3.8L EGH V6 and driver’s side sliding door only one of 57,293 made in this color 1996 at Zion National Park.”
A man named “Hoss” argues with another, “Bob-O” over whether his 3.8L needs colder spark to deal with all the power his 3” exhaust and hot air intake make. If there’s one thing I know, it’s to never get into an argument a man named Hoss, or one who calls himself “Bob-O”, so I watched the battle from afar, the unruly sideburns of Bob-O smashing endlessly against the imagined authority of Hoss’ Boonie hat.
The center console from a 2014 model is inexplicably for sale. Why was it taken from it’s van? Even more confusing, who would take theirs out only to buy a new one?
Pictures are posted of a handicap van conversion, it’s exterior brightly painted, clearly a custom job. The engine’s plastic cover has been painted, with bold claim “Half a Hemi” inscribed.
Every 4th profile picture is a baby or a fucking dog, with the same odds that they don’t speak English as a first language.
This is where you put stuff in. This van is ugly so I didn’t even bother trying to get it’s good angles.
My personal favorite boils down to the people who think they’re still cool though. Particularly amongst the newer vans. Window tint dark enough to smoke behind, 19 inch rims taken off a repossessed Charger, altezza lights, slightly misaligned R/T badges (which are enough of a joke when they’re real) and a massive banner across the top of the windshield, decrying some form of custom work from the cheapest shop in town. I feel bad for these people, scrabbling to retain what little relevance they had in their 20s. When I drive that van, I don’t deny what it is. It’s the transport of an interior decorator, everyone knows NPR is the first preset and the back is filled with carpet samples. And that’s fine, because whenever I’m in that van I have purpose. I might be helping someone move, I might be picking up an engine from a scrapyard, I might be in my mobile office, I might be taking 7 friends up north for some camping. So you’re willing to put up with terrible handling, and fuel economy, and looks, and reliability, and massive oxidation, because there truly isn’t anything more fun than jet skis.