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Video | I Took My ‘Pimp My Ride’ Minivan to Carmax for an Appraisal

The list of cars I wish to own is varied and endless — but nowhere on that list is there any desire to own a 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager. Despite this, a good friend surprised me with one of these orphaned cousins of the Dodge Caravan for Christmas, and it happens to be equipped with 9 televisions. It’s a major piece of millennial pop-culture history. I was thrilled, but since it didn’t come with a price tag to show how generous my friend had been, I decided to take my "Pimped" van to Carmax for an appraisal.

Unless you were too busy cataloging your pine cone collection to watch television from 2004-2007, like Doug DeMuro, you’ve probably heard of a little TV show called "Pimp My Ride." The premise was simple: Surprise owners of beaten down cars with full restorations and customizations based on the owners’ tastes and the latest trends — and the pre-recession 2000’s was a wild time for car customization. While the show only ran for a few short years, it clearly had a lasting impact on society, as my friend Freddy "Tavarish Hernandez quickly discovered.

Freddy is a YouTuber similar to myself who documents his similarly bad vehicle purchase decisions and retains a fleet of always-broken cars. So when he found a very broken 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager customized over a decade ago on "Pimp My Ride" advertised online, he bought it without hesitation. Strangely, though, he thought it would be the perfect gift for me, since my wife is expecting a child. This is despite the fact that the vehicle hadn’t been driven in four years and the interior was filled with mold. After paying $850 for the van, he likely doubled his investment shipping it from Boston to where he lives in Florida so he could begin restoring the minivan for me.

What nobody expected was the enormous response Freddy would receive from documenting the repair process of an old minivan on video. Amazingly, all of the custom touches were still intact, including the denim upholstery, the suede headliner (which hosts a laser light show), 9 televisions, 2 subwoofers and a jewelry-making station. Other than a lot of cleaning, the bulk of the work needed was under the hood. With any other van, nobody would have cared to watch replacing an alternator or valve cover gaskets, but because of Freddy’s entertaining presentation and the van’s provenance, his video series is approaching 15 million views. It also spent time as number one on YouTube’s trending page (something no car YouTuber has ever achieved before that I’m aware of) and netted Freddy’s YouTube channel 200,000 new subscribers in less than a week.

Clearly, Freddy tapped into a huge fan base for this era of reality television, and luckily, I got the van as a surprise Christmas gift. We filmed this having no idea of the huge response that would come, and once it went live, many of the commenters were angry that I got the van. They thought it should go to someone more in need of reliable pimped transportation or sent to Africa to help feed hungry children rather than to another YouTuber with too many cars. Rarely do I agree with the crazies of internet comment sections, but in this case, they were absolutely right.

I have no use for this van, and since the custom rear sofa doesn’t have carseat anchors, it would be illegal to haul a new baby around inside — but I still wanted to have some fun. Picking up my 6-year-old daughter from school resulted in her entire class coming outside to marvel at the van’s awesomeness, and it gets more attention driving around town than my Rolls-Royce Phantom or my Lamborghini Gallardo. It’s hard to put a value on this wow factor, but I knew for certain that my friends at Carmax would try.

After the crowd of Carmax staff gazed upon the van with the same awe as my daughter’s first grade class, they set about checking the mechanical and cosmetic condition of my Grand Voyager and researching the history and comparable sales in their office before coming back with a value. After all this work, they offered $1,500 for the van, which I thought was pretty generous considering the average wholesale value of a stock example is nearly worthless.

Of course, like most works of original art, it’s hard to estimate the true value of masterpieces like this Grand Voyager, which is rich with cultural importance. Truly, it belongs in a museum, so I reached out to a few to gauge their interest. The Smithsonian said they would park it in between their space shuttle and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis — but that wasn’t good enough for me. The Louvre in France promised to house it next to the Mona Lisa, which was a generous offer, sure, but still not good enough.

In the end, I chose to send it to my friends at the Midwest Dream Car Collection in Manhattan, Kansas. Their eclectic collection is a perfect fit for this van, plus I can take my daughter up to visit "her" van, which she made me promise I would keep for her first car. I seriously doubt that in 10 years she will want to drive a pink minivan to high school as a teenager, but a promise is a promise, and the Dream Car Collection will happily store and display it to the world until that day comes. Find a Plymouth Grand Voyager for sale

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