Remember when minivans were glamorous? No? Then you’re probably too young to remember the original minivan, the 1984 Plymouth Voyager. It was called the “Magic Wagon”; celebrity magician Doug Henning starred in the introductory ads. My latest column for Visual Thesaurus revisits that enchanting era and considers the current rebranding of the minivan as … what, exactly? “Man van”? “Swagger wagon”? “Multi-activity vehicle”?
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By the 1990s … much of the magic had worn off. It was all too easy to turn “minivan” into “mommy van.” (Minivans have also been derided as “loser cruisers” and “road slugs.”) Sport utility vehicles (SUVs), with their all-wheel or front-wheel drives and sexy, mountain-scaling image—and, not for nothing, their crossover appeal to men—began their domination around then. Minivans were left in the suburban dust. Even John Travolta’s embrace of the Oldsmobile Silhouette—which he admiringly called “the Cadillac of minivans”—in 1995’s comic crime movie Get Shorty couldn’t restore the enchantment.
There’s much, much more, so go! Read!
Oh, and I wasn’t joking about “swagger wagon.” Here’s the extended-play version of one of the Toyota Sienna ads in current rotation. (Earworm warning!)