Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich, former employees of the Ford Motor Company, first conceived the idea for the Dodge Caravan and its sister model, the Plymouth Voyager, in 1974. The idea was initially rejected by Henry Ford II, but was further developed and eventually released by Chrysler in 1983 as the T-115 minivan. Designed using the Chrysler S platform, an extended version of the Chrysler K platform, the Caravan and Voyager were marketed as 'Magic-wagons'.
The Grand Caravan, a long wheelbase (LWB) variant of the Caravan, was introduced in 1987. It offered increased cargo space, ease of entry, and interior trimmings and controls similar to the Chrysler K platform. The standard Base Van offered seating for five passengers in two rows, while the LE came with seating for a maximum of seven passengers - two buckets in the front and two benches in the rear. For model year 1985 only, the SE trim level was available with a front low-back 60/40 split bench, allowing for a maximum of eight passengers. This configuration was subsequently dropped.
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