If one of the first minivans to roll off the assembly line were a person today, they would be in their mid-to-late 30’s. They might even be in the market for a minivan of their own in order to transport their kid’s teammates to soccer practice or take the family on a road trip to Branson. They might find themselves staring in the mirror, stressing over a receding hairline and asking serious life questions like “what am I doing with my life?” Of course this is just a funny word picture, but the fact is that first-generation minivans went into production in 1983, so it’s not hard to imagine them currently being in the middle of a midlife crisis.
The basic concept behind the design of the minivan was to provide a vehicle that was sized to fit in a standard garage while still providing plenty of room for the family and their belongings. Minivans actually drove like a car while having the added benefit of tackling cargo like sports equipment, camping gear, and luggage like a pro. These vans were never intended to be “sexy”, but they also never pretended to be.
When I was growing up my dad drove a 1987 Ford Aerostar, which was Ford’s first minivan. Even at my young age, I was still capable of being somewhat embarrassed by the oversized breadbox that he was driving. Now that I’m a dad, I realize that this purchase was more-or-less a practical necessity for our family dynamic.
My dad coached my baseball and basketball teams from the time I was 4 until I was 12. In agreeing to coach, he was also agreeing to be the team’s taxi driver. More often than not, you would find him in the school pickup line loading his 5-speed minivan with as many kids as it could legally transport and driving us to the local field or gym.
Now that I’m coaching my son’s first soccer team, I’m experiencing the joy of herding six, 4 to 5-year-olds around an open cow pasture! I’m doing my best to teach them to use their feet and not their hands, but I have quickly learned that this current stage is less about coaching and more about containment! You know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve also come to understand that my dad was never as concerned about driving a stylish car as he was about having a vehicle that helped him best care for his kids! Let’s be honest, as a parent, what’s more important than that? You town. Your life. Your magazine.