Home » My 260,000 Mile Diesel, Manual Chrysler Voyager Still Runs Like A Dream, But I Need Your Advice On What To Do With It

My 260,000 Mile Diesel, Manual Chrysler Voyager Still Runs Like A Dream, But I Need Your Advice On What To Do With It

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I just attended the wedding of an Autopian reader in Nuernbreg, Germany, and you won’t be surprised to hear that it was located in an awesome car museum. I am spending the remainder of the week in the area with my parents, who live here with their dog, cat, 2011 Chevy Equinox, 2015 BMW 320i, and — most importantly — my 1994 Chrysler Voyager diesel five-speed. It is one of the greatest vehicles I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning — and it played a big role in getting me through 2020’s COVID lockdown with at least a few of my marbles still intact. Two and a half years later, the thing still runs like a sewing machine, as the cliche’d expression goes, so I don’t want to get rid of it. The only problem is: I might have to. I could use some advice

I landed in Munich a few days ago to celebrate perhaps the greatest gift I’ve received as a car writer: Friendships made with readers — specifically, one made with Andreas, a Romanian-German with a heart of gold and an Autobianchi of not-too-much rust.

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I landed on Friday and attended his 12-hour wedding the following day. It was in an incredible car museum; here’s a small section of it:

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There was a lot of cake:

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Why was there so much cake? Because as I show in this video below, Jose, the bride, is a baking legend:

There was also dancing:

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And there was Romanian moonshine (Visinata):

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The wedding was beautiful. The vows, which I’ll admit made me spring a bit of a headlight-fluid leak, included much discussion of Andreas’s love of cars, and of the bride and groom’s upcoming road trip to the U.S. (which I will be third-wheeling). Plus, many of the decorations on the tables were car-related. It was epic.

I mention this primarily because the vehicle I took to the wedding was none other than Project Krassler, my 260,000 miles diesel, manual Chrysler Voyager. A bit of backstory:

Back in 2020, after Andreas bought the van on my behalf, he and I —along with some of his friends — replaced almost all the major wear components in the suspension and steering, we slapped on some new tires, fixed the shifter linkage, changed all the fluids, swapped out some bad CV joints, and on and on. Here’s a look at all that hard work:

After a number of attempts, I got the van through Germany’s grueling vehicle inspection, TÜV:

At that point, I hit the road, first to Belgium, since almost every surrounding country was closed due to COVID restrictions:

Then I headed to Sweden, where I saw the supercar-maker Koenigsegg’s headquarters:

In the summer of 2021, I traveled to an gorgeus wedding in Istanbul, and then to a honeymoon in Cappadocia, where I picked up a hitchhiker. It was hell, but also awesome:

In the 10,000 miles I put on the $600 van after reviving it from the dead, the only issues I’ve had are with headlight and taillight bulbs. There was a tiny leak from a CV boot, but I just tightened the clamp, and all was good. Now I’m back home in early 2023 — 2.5 years since wrenching this $600 beast back onto the road — and how does the ol’ van run these days? Like an absolute dream:

 

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A bit of an aside: On my way to the van after the wedding, I spotted this rare American Jeep ZJ:

 

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Anyway, now to the point of this article: What should I do with this van if my parents, who are now storing the machine, decide to move back stateside? My options include: 1. Store the van here, ask a friend to graciously register it as an antique so I can drive it when I visit 2. Sell it or 3. Import it to the U.S.

My concern with number two is that Europe is cracking down hard on diesel vehicles, and I fear that, if I sold it, it wouldn’t be long before it was on its way to the junkyard. As a rust-free highway cruiser in excellent mechanical shape, I feel it deserves better. I’d love to import it, but California likely won’t let me, even if it’s 25 years old. And the storage option? Well, that could work, but when does it end? Perhaps an overlanding trip to Africa could be the goal. These are tough decisions.

What do you think?

 

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155 Responses

  1. Leave it where it is. You should have a car on every continent and this one is already there.

    Slap a pair of German H plates on it if you can (however, you need to wait 2 more years for that, your antique must be at least 30y old).
    Regarding diesel, at least in Germany H-registered cars are extempt from requirements regarding emissions and low emission zones. I doubt that it will change fast, too many historic Diesel vehicles on German roads.

  2. Has to be option 3. Like others said, at worst you make a small profit. You could probably get years more out of it in a salt free environment and then sell it later as well. Start the paperwork!

  3. There has got to be a member that will buy it and continue the legacy. This vehicle should somehow stay in the Autopian family somehow. I want to read stories about this in 10 years.

  4. Importing it to California should be easy, as it’s exempt from smog testing due to it’s age I believe. Beyond that, I think importing would be good idea as it would be an economical cruiser for you that’s reliable and enjoyable for you to drive. Imagine a road trip to the Red Woods in that thing!

  5. For sure import it. Diesel loophole in California works for the many Delicas there, I know a gal named Mercedes who might be able to fill you in a bit.

  6. Import it as an Autopian company car and register it with Jason. As long as it’s used for company stuff I don’t see any issue, and having a diesel Caravan would get you all kinds of dirty looks from the granola crowd in California that they can’t do anything about which is fun.

    I had a diesel jeep liberty that really pissed them off for a good while as it puffed smoke rings when you really stomped on it. One guy was so insensed that he called the emissions people at least weekly on me for a while so after the third time re-testing the jeep they told him it was an abuse of emergency services and he’d go to jail if he called again. Not sure how they made the logic jump to calling themselves emergency services but thats what the lady in their office told me.

  7. The right thing to do would be to just sell it. However, this would not be the way of the Autopian.

    Here’s what you can and should do:
    1) Import it to the east coast.
    2) Register and insure it here in Michigan (I have this planned out too, but I’ll save that discussion for your going away party).
    3) Take the long way from NY to CA, via zig-zagging north and south through the country via all secondary roads, while camping out of the van. This while making sure that you get plenty of photos as stories along the way. Think of it as “The Summer of David”.

    Imagine writing van life stories while you also mod the mini over time to become the ultimate west coast mini camper van.

  8. If you can figure out how to get it to the U.S. and legally tagged/registered, bring it here. Use it for some fun on the street and when you’re bored of it, sell it to a team who would want to make a racecar or off-roader or something silly out of it where it wouldn’t have to be street-legal.

  9. While you may be able to get it tagged and licensed in CA it would be more through the laziness of a DMV clerk than it’s actually legal. All imported vehicles need to be EPA compliant if they’re newer than 1969, diesel or gas.

    I really wanted a friend’s JDM diesel Pajero but realized after doing research that it was a risky move that I might not get tags for or upon an audit loose those tags.

  10. I’d get it into the US.

    It has a Diesel VIN number, and since it’s pre ’98 it wont need to have California SMOG testing done. This would be a huge win to either you, or any big nerd in California that wants to do a fun swap to a caravan.

    Entirely worth it, especially if you can get the process done for $3000-3500, you’d be $4000 into a diesel 5 speed Caravan. Something absolutely unobtainable in the US. You could list it and make your money back on BaT or some other nerd car bidding website. Totally worth it.

  11. keep it there, for further european adventures. see if you can register it as some kind of classic vehicle. Or take in on a ferry to africa and see how far you can get across the continent before it breaks or it breaks you. sell it and fly home

  12. Simple. Import it and dump it on Torch (aka “The Marshal Plan”).

    This will increase his odds of having at least one running vehicle at any given moment.

  13. If Germany ever decides to ban diesels, we´ll find a new loving home for your rare rustfree automotive oddity in Belgium.

    You remember that strange law, which allows some cars to be registered as “light duty” vehicles? It’s often (ab)used to save on taxes, but in this case we could use it to keep your Voyager on the road. You see, most light duty vehicles are diesels, even today. It´s simply more challinging to replace them with “green” alternatives comparerd to normal cars. As such it will take much longer for the gouvernement to ban them, giving you plenty of diesel powered EU traveling oppertunities.

    Btw, this is not an Africa vehicle and you know it! It would do fine on the main roads, but that’s not where you want to be my friend ;).

  14. Have you even looked into how much it would cost to ship it over here? Sell it in Germany if your parents leave. It has served its purpose.

    -Mike

    1. A lot of African countries now forbid importing old cars due to environment issues. My neightbours’ overlanding Landrover Defender had survived two round trips over the whole continent and was mechanically showing it, to save money they were planning on leaving it in Africa but weren’t allowed to. They had to ship it back to the old continent (no time to drive it back like they did the first time). It’s still driving around here in Belgium.

  15. I vote 3. I don’t think you will find another diesel caravan in the US. Sadly, I can no longer be of assistance with the export/import process as I offered back in the Jalop days. I have recently moved from Italy to Japan. Good luck.

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