It’s Sunday and I’m going through some Autopian finances, trying to get my new LA living quarters remotely livable, and just generally stressing out about everything, as I do. I’m here with my two German friends, Andreas and Josie, whom I lent my 1985 Jeep J10 pickup for their cross-country honeymoon road trip. (You’ll hear more about how that went as soon as the newlyweds write it up). Andreas just showed me the wacky 1990 Dodge Caravan you see here. Given that he’s the second person to show me the Facebook listing, I figured I’d share it with you, dear readers.
Never forget that minivans are the most honest, hardest working vehicles in the world. They spend their first decade shlepping around messy, vomit-prone, careless rugrats, along with their furry companions. Then, when the vans have fallen behind the times in term of vehicle safety, and families therefore no longer want to use them to transport their most precious cargo, minivans get a break and live a life of luxury in rich suburbs.
Just kidding. They either get stripped out and turned into living quarters for a “van lifer” or, more commonly, they get recruited as work vans, lugging around paint crews, plumber’s equipment, heavy furniture, electrician’s tools, catered food, mobile mechanics’ wrenches, animals that need walking, and on and on.
Vans lead a hard life, then they lead an even harder life, then they die. Never disrespect them, for they are the most honest form of automotive transportation in existence.
I’m not particularly well-versed on this topic, but I’d guess a hearse is probably among the more leisurely second-lives a van could live. The gig involves carrying a driver, an extremely important horizontal passenger, and some equipment, and there’s some rather slow driving to final resting spots involved. Still, it’s a real job, not just a morning commute for a single passenger, as is the life of a typical full-size pickup truck in America these days.
This first-gen Chrysler minivan — the one that started the unibody passenger van craze in the mid 1980s — is a rather interesting choice for a hearse. Typically a hearse is a luxury vehicle that’s been extended into a big, coffin-carrying wagon. A rather basic child-hauler isn’t a common tool for this job, though it’s definitely practical given how spacious this van is right out of the box. This particular Dodge Caravan needed a few feet of stretch, and features a removable landau bar panel. Here’s the seller’s description:
Very unique Dodge Caravan. Was used at a funeral home so is has been professionally extended. Only 97,000 original miles runs and drives great has some rust on passenger side rocker panels and a few other spots. The window panels have been removed but they can be put back on very easily if interested, and have any questions please feel free to reach out.
The final model year of the first-gen Chrysler minivan, this 1990 machine has a V6 engine bolted to an automatic transmission. The hearse has fewer than 100,000 miles on the clock, and it shows in that gorgeous burgundy interior — a common color back in the 1980s and 1990s:
Interestingly, the rear bench seats have been retained; I’m assuming those were reinstalled for the sale, though perhaps the funeral home used this machine to transport the living, as well.
The van was for sale for $3,000 in Hatfield, Massachusetts, though it’s now listed as “pending.” I’m curious what the new owner has planned for it. Van life in a former hearse?
Images: Facebook Marketplace
Linus would have called these old Caravans “sincere”…(that is a Great Pumpkin reference).
Be careful what you wish for.
My ’93 Caravan was a work hauler. Most notable incident: an old sailboat diesel engine tipped over in back while I was driving it home — black, dirty old crankcase oil all over my gray interior carpeting.
This is the hearse that you hire for a family member that you didn’t particularly like…..part of the “Crazy Uncle” package at the funeral home.
A funeral director near me still operates the Chevy Caprice hearse he brought brand new in 1986. He once told me as long as his hearse is running, he’s staying in business. The car is slightly smoking and the interior is slightly worn, but It’s still running strong. I believe that hearse is going to be running long after he’s gone.
Never say you wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan. This is the first lomgboi I’ve seen like this, but regular newer vans are a funeral industry staple for offering a flat, low floor with the rear seats out. It might not be the pretty vehicle you’ll ride to the hole in the ground, but before then—you might get picked up in a minivan!