1990 Chrysler Town and Country
Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Al Sapp
All my life, I’ve been a die-hard Chrysler fan, a genuine Mopar man. I’ve coveted damn near everything ChryCo has put on the market. So I’d like to share an interesting, little known piece of Chrysler history. Heck, I’m willing to bet my leather Pentastar key fob that, with the exception of its introduction, few have ever written, talked about, or really ever paid any attention to this article’s subject matter. Theres a very good reason for all of this. What might that be…… let me think… oh yes:
Everyone takes minivans for granted and completely writes them off without a second thought.
That’s actually pretty valid. Most minivans are drab, boring, characterless vehicles which serve no purpose other than transporting kids around the suburbs. But as with most drab things in life, there are some exceptions. Dodge currently sells a Grand Caravan R/T, with performance suspension. Then there is a certain purple Plymouth which will definitetly be subject of a future post. And, of course, the subject of today's discussion.
Ladies & Gentlemen, if you please: The 1990 Chrysler Town and Country!
I can already hear you shaking with excitement. But don’t smirk just yet. This special, one year only van is a whole lot more interesting than you might think.
The Town and Country was visibly distinguished from its plebeian sibilings, Caravan and Voyager, by its chrome waterfall grille, wood paneling cut from the finest aged vinyl trees in the Upper Peninsula, a crystal pentastar hood ornament (standard on all Chryslers at the time), and slicked up 15” lace spoke aluminum rims. Chryslers’ damndest minivan was only ever available in Black or White clear coat, letting everyone know that this was a very formal, executive van.
Luxurious interior appointments? Check. We’re talking leather seats and trim panels, front and rear air conditioning, power windows, power locks, and an Infinity sound system so the inevitable Mom driving can be “Bumpin’”, whatever that means. (If it means what I think it does, then it doesn’t apply to your mom.) Beyond the killer audio system, the van had room for seven passengers, tilt wheel, cruise control, a luggage rack, tinted glass, and one of those “navacomputer” overhead consoles that told you the outside temperature and the direction that the crystal hood ornament was currently aimed at. All standard. And the price of all this luxury? $23,625 or $41,479.86 in 2012 Dollars. A fully loaded 2012 Town And Country comes in at $42,690 msrp. So as you can see, the 1990 Chrysler Town and Country was serious business, you’d would have been posh to have grown up with one of these.
Power? You better believe it, with your choice of either a Mitsubishi sourced, 142 HP 3 liter V6, or a 470 horsepower 6.4 liter Hemi V8 3.3 liter V6 developing 150 HP, both mated to the slickest four-speed column-shifted automatic ever shipped out of the Kokomo transmission plant. And if you wanna go fast in the corners, the Town & Country sports 205/70s mounted on the aforementioned 15” alloys, and power front disk brakes.
The 1990 model year was the last of the wildly popular first generation minivans which had been running since 1983. Chrysler only shipped somewhere just south of 10,000 units for the 1990 T & C, rendering this as somewhat of a rarity as far as Chrysler minivans go. In 1991, Chrysler rolled out the sleeker, less boxy second gen minivans, which, thankfully, were still available with wood trim. After the less boxy-box Town and Countrys were replaced in 1996, some of the magic was lost. The post ’96 vans were still great in there own right, but the best of the breed, for me at least, were still the 1990 T&Cs.
Chrysler still makes a Town and Country of course, but it has been confirmed that it will be replaced with a luxury crossover. Pity. The Grand Caravan will still be here. But hats off to the mac daddy, A-number-one, king of the hill, top of the heap, the first true luxury van: the 1990 Chrysler Town and Country!
But why do I love it so much? What would posses me to write an article about such a seemingly unremarkable vehicle? It has a certain spark about it. Something Jeremy Clarkson Calls “Something you just can’t put your finger on.” Something that makes it special. Its that spark that ignites the passion that we have for all the cars we love, not just the wood grained minivans. It’s that spark that all the Car Lust readers and writers share. This van, this front wheel drive, wood-grained, roof-racked, hood-ornamented minivan, the sort of car we take for granted everyday, sparks car lust for me. And I’d double down my leather pentastar key fob, and bet that nobody has ever said that about the 1990 Chrysler Town and Country before.