I’m in too deep. My love of cars, which dominates almost every element of my life, has led me to a point where my taste is really, really niche. Case in point: The car I most want to buy on this day of our lord of cars, December 26, 2023, is a minivan that has never been sold in the US with this engine or transmission combination. This is an absolute miracle and I will buy one one day. I hope soon.
Back in June I took my girlfriend – a person who is not a car enthusiast at all – to Germany and introduced her to my family. Most importantly, I introduced her to my European family of cars, which is really just a 1994 Chrysler Voyager Diesel minivan. It’s my pride and joy, a 32 MPG, manual transmission, seven passenger cruiser that was built in Austria and comes with an Italian-designed VM Motori turbodiesel engine mated to a stout five-speed stick. It’s a version of a van sold in the US as the Plymouth Voyager or Dodge Caravan, although you can’t get an engine as good in the US.
My girlfriend doesn’t really understand why I’m so obsessed, although she marveled at the comfort of the van and ended up endorsing it as a much better passenger than she feared. The truth is, most people don’t get it, because when you get to my stage of car enthusiasm, you’re so deep in the weeds, you’re basically a cult leader quoting verses from the Haynes Manual so obscure only the most devout even know about What are you talking. With that in mind, I’m showing you another vehicle I’m currently obsessed with – one I’ve actually been obsessed with for years. Just look at this article I wrote back in 2020:
That’s three years of thinking about the same minivan; suffice it to say I will own one at some point. This itch needs to be scratched. Check out the current apple of my eye, the 1995 Pontiac Trans Sport:
“Wait a minute,” you must be thinking. “Didn’t the Trans Sport look a little more…toothy?” Indeed, in the US, the early Trans Sport had some big front teeth:
“Wait, but didn’t even that get a refresh in 1994?” Right again. This is what the 1995 Pontiac Trans Sport looks like in the US
You see, the van I’m obsessed with is actually a European Dustbuster van, and in Europe GM just took the Oldsmobile Silhouette…
…and added Pontiac badges and a few European market changes like different colored taillights and front turn signals, adding rear fog lights and more.
But most importantly, the European-market Pontiac Trans Sport was the only dustpan van to get a gearshift:
And more importantly, this transmission was mated to the legendary Quad 4, one of GM’s most important engines of all time. It’s actually a surprisingly powerful engine in the US, usually making a minimum of 150 ponies – that’s solid for a 2.3, especially when you consider that the big 3.8-liter V6 offered in the US (and also in Germany) only makes 20 horsepower more. Unfortunately, in the European Trans Sport, output was only 135 horsepower, pulling a curb weight of 3,825 pounds:
According to the German Pontiac Trans Sport brochure I’m currently obsessed with, the four-cylinder takes 12.3 seconds to go from zero to 62 mph, while the V6 takes 10.6. So it’s not a fast van.
Above you can see the power chart for both the Quad 4 and the V6.
The German brochure paints the Trans Sport as a luxury family hauler, although the stick-shift four-cylinder is intended more for economy. Check out those gorgeous leather seats in the image above.
To have a luxury vehicle that can tow seven people, you might look so good, and can give you the joy, fuel economy and easy maintenance that only a manual transmission can? All with a charming engine with good reliability and a rich and important GM history?
I’m in love. Now tell me: What car are you obsessed with right now?
Images: All from the manufacturer except for the sale images which are from Annunci Al Volante