It is hard to believe that Chrysler’s Mini-Van first rolled off the production line more than 35 years ago. That means it qualifies as a classic car. This simple design caused a complete transformation of the car industry and started the great world- wide rotation out of sedans and station wagons that is still impacting markets today. The Mini-Van boosted Chrysler financially, created a global category which every other car maker copied and elevated Chrysler boss Lee Iacocca and his product planning guru, Hal Sperlich, into the pantheon of automotive gods. You see, when both were at Ford, it was Lee and Hal who saw the future for a small sporty car and raided the Falcon parts bin to create the iconic Mustang. Not First Chrysler was not the first to sell a “garageable” car-like van. Many makers tried and VW fans might rightly claim the Kombi as the initiator. But it was too spartan and un-carlike to have mainstream appeal. GM thought they had a winner with the 1955 L’Universelle dream van, which appeared at that year’s Motorama. But no matter how the engineers tried, the estimated price of a production version, with its front drive V8 layout, was more than that of a Cadillac. So it was shelved. Then GM tried with a Corvair-based van, the Greenbrier. But its links to the Corvair meant it suffered the same fate and faded away in 1965. Sperlich’s Mini-Max It was Sperlich who, when at Ford in the mid-1960s, first predicted that as the baby boomers married and had families they would have to forsake their Mustangs and Camaros for something more versatile. Research showed they did not want the station wagons their parents bought in the 1950s. (“Are we there yet Dad?”) What boomers wanted was a roomy, multi-purpose vehicle, which drove like a car, would fit in their garage, look reasonably stylish, be powerful enough to cruise along a freeway and seat up to seven in comfort on the way to soccer. Sperlich called it the “Mini-Max”.But Hal had two problems to overcome. The first was an engineering issue. Above: The L’Universelle used a Pontiac V8 driving the front wheels. It was a costly and complicated arrangement. 41