Whatever happened to …

… the Chrysler Minivan?

It was a big deal in Essex County yesterday.


We knew that it was coming. The third shift had been cut earlier this year but it’s still kind of shocking to finalize realize it.

When we got jobs down here, we rented a house just a couple of blocks away from the Assembly plant. It was the hottest summer I can remember, we didn’t have air conditioning so would go outside just to cool off. Even from our distance, we could hear people hard at work inside the plant. In recent years, the plant was retooled to produce Chrysler’s latest and most state of the art product. Many different products have been assembled at the plant.

The year that we held the Regional Computer Advisory Committee meeting in Windsor, we had a tour of the plant. Everything was high tech and computerized – we were impressed. The actual product actually still requires physical people to make it work. That number is in the thousands and they’re organized by Unifor.

The closure hit close to us; my son-in-law works there and my daughter works at a plant that produces just in time car seats for the plant. She shared with us that last bunch off the line.

Over the years, married with children, we owned a couple of these marvelous vehicles. I can’t imagine carting kids around with a small car especially driving home to see family. When travel baseball or hockey was in the works, parents with minivans were in high demand.

Our first was one of the original Dodge products. It was white with burgundy interior. It looked like a delivery van; you could stick a sticker on it and get a second job. That lasted us for a number of years.

Our second was green Plymouth (I had a choice this time) with grey interior. It was a huge change in design. It didn’t look like a delivery van and had a lot more room inside.

Then, we became Jeep people.

Being from Amherstburg, of course, we had to buy from Racicot. I remember one salesperson indicate to us that the deal wasn’t official until you shook Leo’s hand. His commercials always had you wondering what he would be up to next. They were predictably on the 6pm news and throughout Hockey Night in Canada.

So, it’s the end of an era. As a transplant to this community, I got exposed to the language – you didn’t work at Chrysler, you worked at “Chrysler’s”. Forced overtime, shutdown, retooling all became part of the language teaching kids whose parents worked there. A promotion that I particularly remember was “Buy the car your neighbour makes”.

So, for a Sunday … your thoughts in the comments, please.

  • Do you or did you own a Chrysler, Dodge, or Plymouth minivan?
  • What did families do before the minivan?
  • Do you buy from a local dealer or will you go to another town to buy a vehicle?
  • The plant in Windsor will continue – what will be assembled there?
  • Do you have a local television celebrity? Can you share a link to a video for us to enjoy?
  • Who was the famous CEO of Chrysler that helped them become successful in the 1980s. He was everywhere, including the Ford Motor company where he worked on another product. Which one?
  • Chrysler has had a number of owners over the years. Can you name any of them?

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4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Pingback: My Week Ending 2020-08-23 – doug — off the record

  2. Pingback: OTR Links 08/24/2020 – doug — off the record

  3. We had a Dodge minivan and then a Honda. Loved them both! We now have an SUV and a truck. Our kids are a bit older and we did think we’d need the van any more. We’ve missed the space on long trips though!


  4. Even though I had 3 siblings, the family station wagon (Ford) seemed to accommodate us well. We were all a few years apart in age, so that probably helped — the older siblings could stay home alone or they got a separate ride somewhere else. As for my family, we never went with a van. A sedan seemed roomy enough for parents of two, and not too much sports or travel to warrant anything larger. We do things backwards maybe. Just this month we got our first SUV. Our excuse was that we might go down to one vehicle when my husband retires in a year or two, so we thought it would be a good choice. I really like a trunk, so we will see!


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