How Ford created the minivan for Chrysler

Back to my favorite teacher, Al McNae and his penchant for enchanting the class with tales like competitions for the coolest color name (Come And Get Me Copper), another of my favorite stories was his perspective from within Ford as it gave birth to the minivan, only to be forced into watching fecklessly from the sidelines like one o'clock half struck as Chrysler went Altered Beast and let Lee Iacocca reboot the minivan as the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager in 1983:


According to Al, amongst the 1970s designers, one of the coolest ideas was "a small affordable van that looked and handled more like a car" with enough space to haul a full 4' x 8' plywood sheet laying flat and would better fit into a typical 7' American garage door.  

1972 saw the culmination of Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich's efforts, advancing the "Carousel" program past the point of a working prototype, all the way to ushering "Old Man Ford" down to a private test track, where after a single lap Hank The Deuce gets out, slams the door and for various reasons declares Ford will NEVER make one of these!, and with that, the Carousel project was shelved. 

The whole design team and Lee Iacocca himself had poured their level best into the minivan, so Henry Ford II's declaration crushed everyone's spirit.  Al said that this was the moment Lee Iacocca decided his tenure at Ford was done, and the decision to move on had been made right there on that test track.  When fired in 1978, Iacocca took the majority of the minivan design team amongst others with him to Chrysler, which then debuted the first Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager in 1983. The rest is, as they say, "history".