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      Car History: Car History Year 1996
    Posted on Monday, September 27 @ 13:50:11 UTC by Cars
      Cars Although Chrysler had been the leading player in the minivan market ever since it introduced the front-wheel-drive Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan in 1984, the opposition was getting stronger year by year as other manufacturers brought out their own versions of the multipurpose vehicle. In order to maintain their dominant position as the number one seller in this lucrative sector, the Chrysler team realized that they had to come up with something new for '96. The answer was revealed at the 1995 North American International Auto Show held in Detroit.

    In addition to the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Grand Voyager, and Chrysler Town & Country iuxury minivan models on display, there were also the Chrysler Voyager and Grand Voyager versions to be sold overseas. But the star of the presentation hosted by Chrysler president Bob Lutz and chairman Robert Eaton was a bright red Dodge Caravan that was connected to a hidden mechanical arm to make it jump into the air. With the aid of a Kermit the frog look-a-like and some humorous poetry, the point was made that, with this new model, Chrysler were leapfrogging ahead of the competition once again. The stylish, more curvaceous lines of the cab-forward design marked a definite advancement of the minivan concept, while at the same time clearly retaining the Chrysler corporate identity. But as well as the modern styling, there were a couple of innovative touches announced on the new models. The first surprise was the option of a left-side sliding door, making it possible to have sliding doors on both sides. Then there were the patented "Easy Out" roller seats and first-for-minivan features such as dual zone climate control, memory seats and mirrors. An all-new 150 horsepower, 2.4-liter, 16 valve, dual overhead camshaft four cylinder engine was one of the powertrains available, the others being a 3.0-liter SOHC V6, a 3.3-liter V6 and a 3.8-liter V6. A 2.5-liter turbo diesel four cylinder would be offered in those vehicles sold outside the USA. Transmission options were a three-speed manual or a four-speed automatic (only on V6 models). Another surprise at the Detroit show was the 1996 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable models, the first complete redesign of the pair since their introduction ten years previously. Although the sleeker Taurus seemed rather smaller than before, it was actually slightly larger, with an extra two inches in the wheelbase, and 5.4 inches longer overall. The width had increased by 2.4 inches, and a new 3.0-liter, 24 valve, "Cleveland" V6 engine rated at 185 horsepower was now on offer, as well as an improved version of the original base 3.0-liter V6. Both Taurus and Sable followed the trend of the cab-forward styling school, but subtle alterations to the front and rear were used to try and give the Mercury a different appearance to its stablemate from Ford. Later in '96, a further example of the growing globalization of the industry became evident when Ford announced that it had bought a controlling interest in Japanese auto-maker Mazda. While all manufacturers were busy looking ahead and trying to come up with an edge over their rivals, there were still a few who were prepared to cater to customers with more traditional demands. It's true that Buick produced their fair share of futuristic concept cars and radical new models, but in 1996 you could still buy an old-fashioned, full-size Roadmaster Estate Wagon - and it even had the fake wooden panels stuck on the sides! But this was to be the last year for the rear-wheel-drive Roadmaster sedan and wagon and the models were given the Collector's Edition designation. Specification 1996 DODGE CARAVAN 3.0 Engine V6 - Cast iron block with aluminum head Displacement 181.4 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3.59x2.99 ins. Horsepower 161 Body styles Minivan No. of seats 5 Weight (lbs) 3,500 Ibs-4,000 Ibs Price $20,000 Produced -     Specification 1996 DODGE VIPER Engine V10-AII aluminum block Displacement 488 cu. ins Bore and stroke 4.00 x 3.88 ins. Horsepower 415 Body styles Roadster; Coupe No. of seats 3 Weight (lbs) 3,445 Ibs Price $58,600 - $66,000 Produced -     Specification 1996 PLYMOUTH GRAND VOYAGER SE Engine V6- Cast iron block/aluminum head Displacement 181.4cu. ins Bore and stroke 3.66x3.19 ins. Horsepower 142 Body styles Minivan No. of seats 7 Weight (lbs) - Price $21,335 Produced -   Specification 1996 FORD TAURUS Engine V6 - All aluminum Displacement 181 cu. ins Bore and stroke 3.50x3.10 ins. Horsepower 200 Body styles 4 door sedan; Station wagon No. of seats 5 Weight (lbs) 3,326 Ibs-3,480 Ibs Price $17,995-$22,000 Produced -  
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