Hoon Hall of Fame: The Man with the Turbo Minivan

I know this is Internet 101 right here for any auto geek, but it is time to honor a man with a passion that exemplified what it means to be a member of the Hoonisphere. If you think that looks like a normal Dodge Minivan – hop the jump to get served… (that’s right, I went there)Gus Mahon was a man who didn’t let family needs stop him from enjoying a passion of drag racing, nor did he let them take a precedent… He simply looked at the 1989 Dodge Caravan as a means to combine both parts of his life that brought him joy.
Caravan you say? Yes Caravan I say, one equipped with a 2.5L turbocharged motor ready and willing for a hoon tune. In stock form, the minivan was capable of a 16.5 second jaunt down the quarter-mile track, which is actually fairly surprising. Gus knew that his box was capable of more and he went to work. Soon his track slips started showing mid-15’s, then into the 14’s, and finally into the bottom of the 13 second range – in 100% street legal form mind you. Gus would pack up the family and drive the van to the track, then they would all hop out and he would don his helmet so he could embarrass a few folks…
His goal was to eventually get his “Mean Mini” into the 12’s and push harder and faster, but sadly he died in 2002. He was enjoying a ride on his motorcycle when he was struck by a car. However, he inspired a generation of fans who carry on the Turbo Van spirit – including one Paul E. Smith (who receives honorable Hoon Hall of Fame mention for carrying on the torch) who DID take his van into the 12 second realm:

If that video doesn’t warm the sub-cockles of your heart, you may be at the wrong website…
RIP Gus Mahon and thank you Paul Smith for keeping the turbo van tradition alive and running strong.
Gus Mahon is our first inductee into the Hoon Hall of Fame for carrying on the tradition started by Hoons McSmitty.


  1. That is awesome, and how embarassing for that Camaro owner.
    Anyone know the stats on this 2.5, boost, compression, est power?

  2. “but sadly he was died in 2002.” I couldn’t get past that.
    A part of me has always wanted a sleeper, whether its a van or one day slapping twin turbos to my four banger Aura, I have to have one.

  3. That’ll get the kids to soccer practice on time. A buddy of mine found an Aerostar with a V6 and 5 speed and beat the living hell out of it. I was pissed when he fried the engine on the way back to SLC from Idaho flat out at 100 plus. That thing had potential. But this is five times as legendary.

  4. I still remember an article the Chicago Tribune ran about him about 10-12 years ago, when he was just starting to gain notoriety in the area. Mind you, this was before the internets paid much attention to such things. Anyway he had a bit of a fan club and it was nigh impossible to find a Caravan Turbo in the Chicago / Milwaukee area that wasn’t claimed by a member of the burgeoning cult of turbo vans. So his legacy was born in old-school hoonage and long may it live on…

  5. I’ve been trying to think of the ultimate cross-country-race vehicle to no avail. I figure it needs to seat four (no need to stop for sleep, just switch out drivers), be fast and reliable, be able to carry spares and tools, get decent fuel mileage, preferably have AWD (for those times when the pavement ends and you don’t feel like turning around) and not be a cop-magnet. I think I’ve found it. One of these buggers with AWD, a turbo four (or six) and a five speed with a full roll cage and four racing seats would be a hoot, not to mention fulfill all those qualifications.

    1. The Mazda minivan (MPV?) had AWD, and I believe it was built on a truck chassis. Not sure what it had under the hood though.

  6. Weird, I was just discussing turbo Dodges with a co-worker. I used to have a GLH with GLHS guts and we were talking about how there is a lot of interest about them on the east coast but not out here in California for some reason. My thoughts turned to Gus and remembered he died a few years back. Bittersweet memories,.

  7. That is freaking awesome! I had no idea those 4 banger Chryslers would take such a beating, too bad the new ones aren’t as good. The funniest part, IMO, is that Gus evidently also had a Plymouth Acclaim that he was working on!

  8. Bloody hell. This man is capital H Hoon. Well done, Mr. Mahon. I pour my lunch scotch out for you.
    A piece of me dies every time I hear of a man being emasculated by the demands of family. Yes, when you have a wife and kids certain sacrifices have to be made. But the need for hoonage need not be one of them. Any vehicle can be hooned.
    This is why, as ugly as they are, I would drive a Mercedes R63 AMG. A 500 hp minivan you say? I may have to give up my pony car, but I don’t have to give up my balls!

      1. Agreed. I would rock the R63 as a covert daily… take off all the badges too and leave them wondering what just happened.

  9. Braff: Making my Hoonage Blog Article dreams come true since…well, late 2009 I guess.
    Never did figure out if this particular turbo ‘Van was equipped with a 5-speed. That option COULD be had…disconcerting to get into a Caravan and find that, oh!, there’s no shift lever. Wait, wait…here it is, tucked right next to the driver’s seat…is this thing a ^&(*$’ MANUAL?!?!?!

  10. The Chrysler 2.5L slant six was a stroked 2.2, producing more torque over it’s earlier turbo 2.2 models. The Slant six at that time in NA form only had… 80 horse power (but trust me from experience, is enough to get into trouble… at slow speeds), but the turbo models ran up to 150~ hp on only a few lbs of boost.
    The only thing that truly failed these motors was the SHITFUCKINGTASTIC EFI setup these cars had. I have rarely seen such a confusing, tangle of a OBDI system before.

  11. I knew a guy online who had a very similar Caravan, an ’89 cargo version with a 360 and A727; sadly, pictures of said van have been lost to history as far as I know. The idea of a hot-rod minivan has always appealed to me, especially one that’s most commonly seen with fourteen recent immigrants inside, belching smoke.

  12. Mr. Mahon is definitely worthy of being the first inductee into the HHOF.
    Personally, I’d have a Previa with a 3S-GTE/5-speed swap, or an Astro/Safari with an LS9/6-speed swap. Both would have to look bone stock from the outside, of course.

  13. A great Hoon-Salute to Mr. Mahon. It just goes to show, that with a little creativity, resourcefulness, and duct tape, Hoonage can be accomplished with any ride.

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