Do you have any pictures of the Grand Caravan?The first one we bought from friends, and the transmission was already shot. We only had to drive it 3 blocks to our house. I think it was an 86, silver rwd. Think we had it for 2 or 3 years, and replaced it with a 91 Dodge Grand Caravan. Rust on the bottom had started to show on the Aerostar again, and the Grand Caravan was pretty clean.
The red/gold AWD I think was a 92? We bought that one so my mom had something to drive while we rebuilt the transmission in her 94 Grand Caravan. I mistakenly thought there was something wrong with it because of the "buzzing" noise when shifting into gear (turns out it was normal!). We only had it for a summer and into fall. We lived in a town obsessed with getting rid of blight and we had a lot of cars on our little property, so sold it as-is to get rid of it fast. We knew another transmission rebuild would be expensive, as the first one cost $750 just in parts back in 1994.
My dad was a auto body repairman, and I had just gotten out of tech college as a mechanic. I did a lot of the removal/installation work and he handled the benchwork. We rebuilt the transmission in the 94 and not knowing better, used Dexron 3 fluid. When we first fired it up and put it in gear, the engine labored because something in the transmission kept it locked up. Suddenly it gave a big clunk! and the wheels were moving. Drove okay for 4 or 5 years, until the transmission went - it gave another clunk and would barely move, like something was binding up the transmission inside again. Reverse wouldn't work either. Luckily it happened across town and my dad was able to limp it home. They sold it to someone who buys junk cars and sometimes fixes them. They haven't had good luck with Chrysler minivan transmissions, but mine have kept on working for me.
I think AWD was 4.0 V6The Grand Caravans were my parents' vans. They may have pictures of them, but they are old photos not able to share digitally (if I could even find them).
The silver 86 wasn't too bad. It was used as a family hauler and for pulling a small boat by our friends' other family, then left at their house when the transmission was so bad it couldn't be driven. When they tried to pull it (when the tranny went) they damaged the front end by hooking the tow strap to the sway bar, which ripped that end off and broke the plastic under the front bumper and bent some metal.
The mistake was, they TOWED with it. Those Ford transmissions in the Aerostars and later the Windstars were notorious for needing a rebuild every 40,000 miles. The Windstars barely made it out of warranty! It was too light duty of a transmission for the vehicle, just like the Honda Odyssey and Ridgeline.
The 3.0 engine was known for ticking. A friend's girlfriend had a Ford Taurus wagon with the same engine and the same tick. The shop where my dad worked took in a Taurus on trade that made the same tick. When torn apart to see what the noise was, a deep gouge was found in a cylinder, with the wrist pin sticking out from the piston. Evidently Ford had some problems on the assembly line of the 3.0, if wrist pin clips were either not installed correctly or not at all.