The crisp morning Colorado air, a relaxing drive through a snowstorm, and a 1991 Dodge Caravan Woodie. No, these aren't the script notes for the sequel to The Cabin in the Woods. It's just Tyler Hoover of Hoovies Garage testing the boundaries of early-90's Chrysler engineering. Oh, and delivering some supplies to his very pregnant sister.
Equipped with original-issue all-wheel drive -- the first offered in a Chrysler minivan-- rally fogs, and oversized mudding tires, this isn't exactly the Caravan that carted so many children to school. In fact, it has only 50,000 original miles on it. It's just a slightly-aged suburbanite, looking for a mid-life adventure, which many of us can appreciate.
Tyler, on the other hand, clearly knows what he's doing, handling the van delicately in snow, slush, and ice, navigating sheer drops and Vail Pass traffic without incident. But, showing up at his sister's house was only the beginning of the minivan's journey. Tyler is absolutely intent on taking the van off-roading, and hopefully hitting some deep snow.
Impressively enough, the Woodie handles itself pretty well on a brief off-road detour, and it only protests by shaking violently and loudly when being driven on dirt roads. Of course, as Tyler comments, a Dodge Neon could have likely withstood the alleged "rigors" of this particular off-road path. But, watching the Caravan cruise across the snow-dotted fields with noble gusto is truly a sight to behold.
All-in-all, the 1991 minivan held up fairly well to these quests. It seems the speedometer and tachometer misbehaved towards the end of the long journey across the Vail Pass, but honestly, what can you expect? As we age, most of us experience a little wonkiness in our gauges and a little extra rattling on rough roads. This van is in pretty good shape as it approaches its 30th birthday, which is more than some of us can say!
This post was originally published on April 6, 2017.