The first MPVs: Chrysler Voyagers and Renault Espaces.

The luxury 'woody' of Plymouth
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Chrysler Voyager and the Renault Espace. The first generation of MPVs.

De Chrysler (Grand) Voyager is one of the first MPVs. Chrysler introduced the model under the name in 1984 Dodge Caravan in the USA. The car was also sold as Plymouth.

This first model, the square Voyager, was introduced in Europe in 1988 as Chrysler Voyager and became a great success. Not only as an MPV, but also as a gray license plate car without side windows. The second generation appeared in 1991. In 1996 the third generation was introduced, which was considerably more rounded than the old square model. The fourth generation appeared in 2001 and underwent a facelift in 2004. The fifth generation appeared in 2007. The Voyager was available with a four- or six-cylinder petrol and a diesel engine, and was delivered with automatic transmission only.

And there are very few left of the first generation.

The same applies to the de facto close relative of that Chrysler: The Renault Espace.

British Fergus Pollock worked for Chrysler UK and was at Chrysler's headquarters at the birth of Voyager. He was very impressed with the concept and when he returned to England he also designed a seven-seater together with Matra. He started from parts of Simca's 1307. The project was Matra's intended successor to the Matra Rancho. When Chryslers Europe's adventure ended in the sale of it to PSA. Pollock to Citroën . Work on the project was continued by Matra's in-house designer Antoine Volanis.

Peugeot fits

Peugeot had financial problems at the time and saw no future in the P18 project. This turned out to be a serious error of judgment. Matra concluded a cooperation agreement with Renault on December 15, 1982. This cooperation resulted in the prototype based on the R18 P23, from which the first European MPV, the Renault Espace was developed. Renault improved the design, took care of marketing and sales, and supplied the powertrain. Matra was responsible for production and development.

Renault gets in

At Renault, it was thought that the Espace would be a niche product for eccentrics. Because of the expected small numbers, the construction was therefore outsourced to the original developer Matra Automobiles, which also had the required specialist production facilities. The revolutionary Renault was fitted with a fiberglass body and, just like the Matra Murena, a galvanized chassis. The production of the Murena at Matra had to be stopped to make way for the production of the Espace,

The first Espace

In April 1984 the first Espace was shown to the press and in July 1984 the sale started. Initially, the Espace was only available with an 2 liter 110 hp gasoline engine; at the end of 1984 an 88 hp turbo diesel was added.

In the beginning, the sale did not get off the ground because the public had to get used to the special design. In the first year, only a few more than 2.700 units were sold. Sales increased strongly in 1985. From 1987, the Renault-Alpine plant had to step in to meet demand. In 1988, the model was given a facelift, whereby most of the Simca parts and some typical Simca design features, including the sloping headlights, were replaced by replacement parts from Renault's Renault- warehouses. 1991 Espaces were finally sold in 182.000, with which the first MPVs had conquered their place on the European market.

And you don't see much of those very early Espaces either.

A pity ...

Verkeerd afgelopen So. But not rusted.


Give a reaction
  1. At the end of last year I bought a 1 Espace I, phase 11 (J1978). Great tour car! A lot of electric malodor, but that should not spoil the fun. By the way: it is not a Renault, but a Matra on registration. Never knew they were sold under the Matra name….

  2. Funny that both models on study models from Ford and Chrysler come from 1972. At Ford, Harold Sperlich was commissioned by Lee Iacocca to assemble an MPV based on the Fox-Platform (Ford Fairmont from 78) to be developed. At Chrysler it was Burt Bouwkamp who tried to chisel something useful out of a mixture of the Simca 1100 and the rear-wheel drive Dodge Trucks. Chrysler had no money and with Ford it was Henry II who didn't feel like it. Sperlich was fired in 1976 at Ford and became development boss at Chrysler, his friend Iacocca came 2 years later and saved Chrysler from ruin. Sperlich took all Ford's plans with them and developed the K-Cars, which once again provided the basis for the Voyager. With the sale of Chrysler Europe, Renault got the idea for the Espace through Matra. And so the story is done

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