Welcome back to the Dodge Heritage Series, a 10-part exploration of Dodge brand history. This is Part 7 in the series.
The 1980s at Dodge featured two key products that changed the brand and the industry forever: the K-car and the minivan.
Introduced in 1981, the Aries (above) was the Dodge version of Chrysler’s innovative K-car, featuring clean, honest styling, front-wheel drive and a rugged and powerful 2.2-liter engine. Two-door coupe, four-door sedan and station wagon styles were offered, all engineered for maximum consumer value. Eventually, even a sporty convertible model was offered on a limited basis.
Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca took his pitch for the value-driven model directly to the car-buying public in a series of television commercials, boasting, “America, if you can find a better car, buy it.” Shoppers accepted his personal challenge, purchasing nearly two million units in the nine years the K-car was produced.
The popular K-car also served as the mechanical foundation for the Chrysler Corporation’s ground-breaking vehicle of the 1980s, the minivan. Dodge’s version, the Caravan, was introduced in the spring of 1983 with the bold yet accurate claim, “a transportation revolution.” Enormous on the inside but taking up no more space than a compact sedan on the outside, the minivan changed how American families use their vehicles. Dodge continues to lead the minivan category today with the Caravan’s successor, the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Read Part 6 of the Heritage Series for more Dodge history. Also, be sure to visit the Heritage Wall section of the Dodge Power Rallye Tour, a traveling Dodge-based experience showcasing the best in performance vehicles. You can find the schedule of Tour events here.