Needed: Advice on a “Barn Find” Used Van

November 27th, 2012

2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport

There’s a “barn find” sitting in my barn.

Sort of.

My barn is actually a pole building, but inside sits a 13-year-old vehicle with fewer than 40,000 miles on it. This is the type of treasure shoppers hope to find in the CarGurus used car listings. This car represents the epitome of used car finds. The find someone, somewhere, will excitedly tell their children about.

There’s only one thing keeping this barn find from being forever preserved in the coffee-table book of barn finds:

It’s a terrible car.

In my shop sits a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport with 38,000 miles on the clock. The van was special ordered from a Dodge dealer in Grand Island, Neb., in 1999 by an aging grandmother. She proudly drove the van for a couple of years, mostly to and from her church and the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. Somehow in that time she managed to put identical dents in both front fenders and spill gallons of coffee and soda into the carpet.

It didn’t take long for Grandma to go into a nursing home, where she lived out her days while the van remained parked in the garage at home, save for the occasional drive by the neighboring aunt, until this year.

The van passed down to a family member in Washington State, who drove it back from Nebraska then had new carpet installed, along with new tires, brakes and a tune-up. The fenders still need some body work. With no extra room in their garage, though, the van now sits in my otherwise-empty shop. I’ve used it to haul some old television sets to the Goodwill, and it came in handy when my Jaguar got a batch of bad gas and needed some rest.

The 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport has AWD and a 3.8-liter, 180-hp V6 engine. A 4-speed automatic transmission sends power to the ground. As you might expect, the resulting fuel economy is quite dismal. The EPA estimates 14 mpg city/21 highway. The plastic on the dash and door trim is flimsy, the climate controls are questionably adhered, and the cupholders are a joke. (Can’t blame Grandma for the spilled beverages!)

Performance on the highway is barely adequate, but I’m seeing similar vans for sale with up to 230,000 miles, so it’s pretty clear the engine can last when properly taken care of. I wonder what my fellow CarGurus would do if this van belonged to you:

Would you keep this low-mileage 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport for yourself or sell it for whatever you could get?

-tgriffith

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Used Dodge Grand Caravan

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  1. Elise H
    November 28th, 2012 at 11:19 | #1

    Wow, there really is a coffee table book of barn finds! That surprised me.
    At one point we had a 2000 Dodge Caravan and I really liked it. The transmission blew one day (which I hear is a common occurrence for these vans) and it cost more to replace it than the value of the van itself. Plus the engine compartment is so small and compact that if you don’t have a cherry picker you can’t make the repairs on your own. The van would have to be taken to a mechanic and it costs even more.
    If it was mine I would use to to shuttle around the kiddos hoping the transmission wouldn’t go and then if it did get rid of it on craigs list or have the junk yard take it.

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