Before the Chrysler minivan, there was this 15-passenger monster.

1976 dodge sportsman van magazine advertisement
Dodge Division, Chrysler Corporation

Under Lee Iacocca’s watch, the Chrysler Corporation revolutionized the American family-hauler universe by creating a spacious, economical small van based on the front-wheel-drive K Platform. Before that time, though, Detroit offered large families sedan-based station wagons in various sizes, jouncy military-style trucks, and great big boxy passenger vans.

Though a van isn’t a wagon, American vehicle manufacturers (plus Volkswagen) spent the 1960s through the early 1980s applying the wagon label to their window-equipped vans. Chrysler was especially persistent with this practice, and here’s a good example from 1976: a full-page magazine advertisement for the B-Series Sportsman wagons vans.

, 1976 dodge sportsman actually a sensible station wagon
Dodge Division, Chrysler Corporation

As an early Generation Xer who spent a 1970s childhood in my family’s red-and-white 1973 Chevy Sportvan Beauville, I experienced firsthand the strong arguments for American van ownership at the time. Contrary to what this advertisement claims, however, such vans swilled more fuel and were far less comfortable than same-year full-size station wagons (even with the miserably overworked Slant-6 engine, and even at 55 mph, it seems very unlikely that a 1976 Chrysler B-Series van could manage 26 mpg on the highway).

Keyword: 1976 Dodge Sportsman Actually a Sensible Station Wagon

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