Who Made the First Minivan?

January 27, 2012

The first minivan ever is often attributed to the Chrysler corporation. However, this is not the case. The minivan was invented in 1935 by a man named William Stout. It was called the Scarab. The concept behind it was a theme of a truly "mobile office" -- a place where one could be driven and work at the same time with amenities on par with airliners of the time. However, only nine examples of the Scarab were ever produced, as it was considered to be too radical and "modern" for its time. After this, minivans took a long hiatus, with the next model appearing in 1950 in the form of the very popular Volkswagen Type 2, or micro-bus.

1936 Stout Scarab

The extreme popularity of the Type 2 led American manufacturers to try breaking into this new minivan market. The first was General Motors, in 1960 with its Corvair Greenbrier, but it was never anywhere near as successful as the Type 2 and became nothing more than a footnote in minivan history. The first US automaker to really capture the minivan market was Chrysler with its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager models in 1984. These models brought costs down and made minivans an affordable option for parents and families, eventually becoming the transportation of choice of many Americans. There have been over 12 million Chrysler minivans sold as of model year 2008. Other popular minivans include the Ford Windstar, Ford Aerostar, Chevrolet Venture, Chevrolet Astro, Volkswagen Routan, and Mazda MPV. Minivans are sold in nearly all automotive markets today.

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