Chrysler introduced the Dodge and Plymouth minivans in November 1983 for the 1984 model year, using an extended derivative of the Chrysler K platform, the Chrysler S platform. Chrysler followed with a long wheelbase (LWB) model, the Grand Caravan in 1987, also based on the Chrysler S platform.
The idea of a modern minivan had been conceived by Lee Iaccoca and Hal Sperlich during their earlier tenure at Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford II had rejected Iaccoca's and Sperlich's idea (and a prototype) of a minivan in 1974, then rumored to carry the name "Maxivan". After Iaccoca moved to Chrysler Corporation, he recruited Sperlich to also join Chrysler and together they created the T115 minivan — a prototype that was to become the Caravan and Voyager.
The Chrysler minivans launched a few months ahead of the Renault Espace (the first MPV/minivan in Europe, initially presented to executives as a Talbot in 1979, but not launched until 1984), making them the first of their kind — effectively created the modern minivan segment in the US.
Since their introduction in the fall of 1983, the Chrysler minivans have consistently been the best-selling minivans in the United States, with over 12 million Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth minivans in over 80 countries sold as of October 2008. Only recently, has Chrysler ceded the top-selling minivan spot to the Honda Odyssey.
- Magician Doug Henning was used as a spokesman to introduce the Caravan as a vehicle with the space of a cargo van that would fit in a standard garage and a low step-in height for small children.
- A first year production Dodge Caravan is displayed at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.
- In 2004, Chrysler held a Stand By Your Van Contest, where contestants had to place one hand on the new van. The person whose hand was on the longest won a brand new Caravan, and be one of the first consumers to experience the new Stow 'n Go seating. The event was held during the Chicago Auto Show.
Special anniversary editions of the Chrysler minivans have included, in 1994, the "10 Year Anniversary Edition" Dodge SE with badges and special two-tone paint, as well as the 2004 Anniversary Edition SXT Caravan.