July 21, 2024
Industry News

Hidden Treasure: 1998 Plymouth Voyager Expresso

During the 1994 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler showcased a concept car based on the Neon that resembled a vehicle fit for the Mars Base in 2094. Known as the Plymouth Expresso, this whimsical creation hinted at a future that never materialized, as Plymouth’s demise was just seven years away. Despite its design being a dead end, some argue that it may have influenced the later Chrysler PT Cruiser. The Expresso name, however, lived on as an option package.

As the 1990s unfolded, Chrysler believed that Plymouth had a place in the market, even though many consumers were unclear about its positioning below Dodge in the company’s lineup. The PT Cruiser was initially intended to be a Plymouth, and the Prowler actually started out as a Chrysler model named after a popular brand of twine in the 1920s.

In 1996, Plymouth introduced the Expresso Package for Neon and Breeze models, offering buyers additional features for an extra cost. By 1998, almost every Plymouth model, except the Prowler, could be equipped with the Expresso Package.

Expresso-enhanced vehicles featured unique badges, body-colored trim, and upgraded audio systems. Despite being targeted at Generation X buyers, not everyone was enticed by the offer, including myself as a member of that demographic.

As DaimlerChrysler took control, Plymouth faced a series of setbacks in the late 1990s, leading to the brand’s eventual discontinuation. The Voyager, previously a Plymouth model, was rebranded under Chrysler before eventually being phased out.

This Junkyard Gem sheds light on the Expresso Package and the decline of Plymouth, capturing a piece of automotive history that is reflective of the brand’s journey.

The Voyager, priced as the cheapest Chrysler minivan in 1998, offered good value for money despite the Expresso branding. Its affordability made it a compelling option compared to its Dodge Caravan counterpart.

This era of Chrysler minivans, spanning from 1996 to 2000, was also available in Europe under the Chrysler Voyager and later Lancia Voyager badge.

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FAQ

  • What was the inspiration behind the Plymouth Expresso concept car?
  • Why did Plymouth face challenges in the late 1990s?
  • How did the Expresso Package impact Plymouth’s lineup?
  • Where can I learn more about the history of Chrysler minivans?

Conclusion

The Plymouth Expresso and its legacy, embodied through the Expresso Package, offer a glimpse into the turbulent final years of the Plymouth brand. Despite the challenges faced, the vehicles equipped with the Expresso Package continue to hold a place in automotive history, showcasing the evolution and eventual fate of Plymouth in the changing landscape of the automobile industry.

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