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#4610134 - 12/21/17 11:32 AM 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings...
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1174
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
So, I'm always musing about what would be a good car to move my wife up to from the Cruze when it becomes financially practical to make any change. I intend to keep the Cruze, but would probably drive it myself as the daily errand runner. Our son is 3 months old and she frequently babysits 1-3 more kids and has a varied daily routine. I always come back around to "Suburban!" but she's not crazy about a big vehicle and they are a fairly expensive vehicle to operate when you're just hauling munchkins and groceries.

What we both value as much as anything is utility - easy ingress/egress, space efficiency, etc. Until 6 months ago there was a homely little 1992 Caravan sitting in the back of a used car lot in town for the longest time, and we stopped just to look. The short second row bench seat with a flat floor and decent size path back to the rear seat was a really attractive setup - something a lot of newer vehicles, with their second-row buckets or 60/40 split and stepped floor to the back (Suburban) don't have. It's also small and we both don't mind the exterior styling. Not to mention a shell to build off of is dirt cheap - if I went this route I'd welcome the opportunity to repower it with something completely different so a bad transmission or engine isn't a big deal. The original drivetrain in said vehicle isn't that appealing to me, and there are more reliable/efficient options, so I've mulled over what my go-to swaps would be.

Series II 3800 V6/4T65E: ample power, decent economy (at least 25 highway?), and very good longevity. I maintain 3 Buicks with 185K, 228K, and 270K on the clock and they all run very well with minimal maintenance and, on the 228K example, some substantial neglect in its recent past. But, that's more than enough engine for the little van and it's gotta have a computer to make it work. Wifey also prefers manual transmission and I'm not aware of any readily available transmissions for the transverse 3800.

VW TDI 1.9L (1Z or ALH, i.e. mechanical injection): Once again, very reliable. Enough power, better mileage (maybe 35?), and wouldn't be hard to find bolted to a manual transmission. No doubt easier to fit under the van's hood, too. But, if we're gonna talk mech. injection diesel, why not rise above the timing belt, take a long draw on the crack pipe, and go with:

Mercedes OM616 2.4L: This might the most expensive drivetrain so far, not to mention I'd probably put a turbo on it (to keep the back end of the van intact :P ), but if you want to talk reliability the Benz puts even the TDI to shame. They need their own kind of maintenance, but no timing belt. Maybe 28-30 MPG on the highway? Older tech, but rock solid if you just take a little care of it. Transmission? Who knows - something adapted as I don't think the 616 was ever mounted transverse.

Chevy Cruze 1.4T: Lots of computers, lots of newer tech, but 30-34? on the highway, plenty of power, and an engine I'm very familiar with. Also came with a manual transmission, and she's already used to that drivetrain in the Cruze. Very compact, too, as far as packaging is concerned.

Subaru 2.5 (turbo?) plus the AWD system would be a lot more work, but hey, then you have a minivan with the best AWD system around, right? Would almost certainly have to massage the firewall and front floors of the van to get it under the floor, though, and power (if N/A) and gas mileage wouldn't be that combo's strong suit.

90's Honda 4 cyl.: I'm somewhat acquainted with these engines. Light, durable, fairly economical, plentiful, available with manual trans., and fewer drivability quirks to tolerate than any diesel - just crank it and go.

Other ideas? If you've been asking yourself, "Why the h-e-double hockeysticks waste any money on anything close to this?" then the interest of such a project probably escapes you and your opinion probably isn't relevant. laugh But, for those that have some understanding why this appeals to me, what would you add to the concept?


Edited by Alex_V (12/21/17 11:35 AM)
_________________________
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 113K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 169K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

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#4610149 - 12/21/17 11:55 AM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
14Accent Offline


Registered: 08/03/17
Posts: 433
Loc: MN
What engine is in it now? 2.5, 3.0 or 3.3? If you want something cool why not swap in a turbo 2.4 from an SRT4 neon or caliber. That's my vote. Any other engine is going to be too much of an issue.

Or, if there's room, throw a 3.6 pentastar in it with the 6 speed auto. 280 horse and still good on gas. The computers would be tricky though
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#4610159 - 12/21/17 12:12 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
IndyIan Offline


Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 9117
Loc: Ontario, Canada
If you like the Honda engine, just get an old 4 cyl Odyssey. They were actually pretty decent family haulers.
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#4610160 - 12/21/17 12:17 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: IndyIan]
dogememe Offline


Registered: 04/15/17
Posts: 720
Loc: SF BAY AREA, CA
Originally Posted By: IndyIan
If you like the Honda engine, just get an old 4 cyl Odyssey. They were actually pretty decent family haulers.


Ugly and slow but reliable.
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1997 Suburban 5.7 ~214K Miles, VWB 5W-30, VO-55, Personal.
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2010 Escape 2.5 ~75K Miles, VAS 5W-30, Wix 51348, Rented on Turo.

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#4610174 - 12/21/17 12:28 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
supton Offline


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 12174
Loc: NH
On a repower, I'd compare the weight of the van to the weight of the vehicle making the donation. Ideally the donor vehicle would be say 10% lighter. Reason being, the van likely has worse aerodynamics, and thus needs more power on the highway.

Hmm, an I4 tends to be long and cram the accessory belt against the fender. A V6 tends to just pack everything in anyhow. I might prefer a torquey I4 to a similar power V6.
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2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 163k, hers
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#4610200 - 12/21/17 12:55 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
javacontour Offline


Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 10325
Loc: Illinois
You only need the 4 cylinder: http://www.turbovan.net/van.html
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#4610219 - 12/21/17 01:09 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: 14Accent]
nthach Offline


Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 3994
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: 14Accent
What engine is in it now? 2.5, 3.0 or 3.3? If you want something cool why not swap in a turbo 2.4 from an SRT4 neon or caliber. That's my vote. Any other engine is going to be too much of an issue.



That would be my pick. Easy way out would be the newer 3.8L motor. A Pentastar can be fun, but it expects the factory DBW throttle and ESP to be there.

Or even crazier, a Mitsubishi 4G63 out of an Lancer Evo(provided it can bolt up to the 6G72's mounting points) - but you'll also need to fab up mounting the Evo's drivetrain to the Mopar subframe. The Turbo Mopar route would be easier.

http://osakajdmmotors.com/en/jdm-engines...on-engine-cn9a/

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#4610243 - 12/21/17 01:28 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
Oldmoparguy1 Offline


Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 5622
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Which engine do you have? I'm on my 8th. mini. If it were me, I would go for a 3.3/3.8 power system. Simple conversion, every thing will just bolt up. MY 94 3.8 has lots of get up and go.

I've dreamed about a Pentastar conversion, it looks doable, but I don't have that much ambition these days.
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#4610251 - 12/21/17 01:33 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: 14Accent]
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1174
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
Originally Posted By: 14Accent
What engine is in it now? 2.5, 3.0 or 3.3? If you want something cool why not swap in a turbo 2.4 from an SRT4 neon or caliber. That's my vote. Any other engine is going to be too much of an issue.

Or, if there's room, throw a 3.6 pentastar in it with the 6 speed auto. 280 horse and still good on gas. The computers would be tricky though


I don't have a specific vehicle in mind yet - the one we looked at just peaked my interest and gave us a chance to examine one in the flesh and the interior layout and small size/decent styling is appealing.

How troublesome are the SRT4 engines? I'm not at all familiar with them. Any of the incoming power plants would be stock (relative to themselves) or close to it. A newer 3.8 (maybe with the 6-speed auto) wouldn't be a bad idea, and I agree the performance of the Pentastar might make it worth the electronic hurdles... makes me grin just thinking about how fast it could be. The $$$ to get a solid Pentastar/tranny combo might be on the high side of what I had in mind, though.


Edited by Alex_V (12/21/17 01:47 PM)
_________________________
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 113K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 169K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

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#4610261 - 12/21/17 01:39 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: dogememe]
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1174
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
Originally Posted By: dogememe
Originally Posted By: IndyIan
If you like the Honda engine, just get an old 4 cyl Odyssey. They were actually pretty decent family haulers.


Ugly and slow but reliable.


The cosmetic appeal isn't there, but this is, after all, a discussion about vans - and it's better than a Previa! What was the seating setup in the early Odyssey? From the pics I can find it was a 50/50 or 60/40 split folding second row? Is there a step in the floor right behind the 2nd row or is it flat?
_________________________
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 113K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 169K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

Top
#4610268 - 12/21/17 01:44 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: supton]
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1174
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
Originally Posted By: supton
On a repower, I'd compare the weight of the van to the weight of the vehicle making the donation. Ideally the donor vehicle would be say 10% lighter. Reason being, the van likely has worse aerodynamics, and thus needs more power on the highway.

Hmm, an I4 tends to be long and cram the accessory belt against the fender. A V6 tends to just pack everything in anyhow. I might prefer a torquey I4 to a similar power V6.


Ditto on the space. Considering the 3.1/3.8 V6 fit in the engine compartment in question to begin with, I think a TDI, Honda 4 cyl., etc. would have plenty of room. V6 = half the plugs on the back, exhaust manifolds and such shoved down in front of the radiator, etc. - even if an I-4 has less space on the end I'd rather live with that and more space everywhere else. The 3800 V6 isn't a huge engine, either, but the Pentastar (DOHC = much fatter top end) might be tight.
_________________________
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 113K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 169K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

Top
#4610274 - 12/21/17 01:50 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1174
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
_________________________
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 113K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 169K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

Top
#4610302 - 12/21/17 02:13 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
javacontour Offline


Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 10325
Loc: Illinois
Which reminds me, Chrysler built these vans in Austria. Wonder what powertrain options they had there that we never had?
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#4610320 - 12/21/17 02:33 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: Alex_V]
meep Offline


Registered: 02/20/07
Posts: 3583
Loc: Southeast
it's the details which hurt on these. custom adapters, custom CV axles, custom mounts... how much can you do yourself, and how badly will you care for accurate instrumentation?

For the time and money invested, you could easily get into a 4th gen 3.8 with gobs of power, 3-zone HVAC and power seats and do a little R&R and end up with a newer, faster, and safer people hauler. The 3.8 is no slouch and will lay town two strips of rubber stock without much trouble.

-M
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2015 crv (wifey!)
2009 s60 2.5T

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#4610358 - 12/21/17 03:33 PM Re: 2nd Gen Caravan repower musings... [Re: javacontour]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 19349
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: javacontour
Which reminds me, Chrysler built these vans in Austria. Wonder what powertrain options they had there that we never had?


No idea about the details but a diesel was definitely an option.
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