Unfortuantly it is very hard to find a minivan with a manual transmission
Older 4-cyl Caravan and some V6 Aerostars had manual transmissions. That's probably going to be my next van (unless I get a wagon or large sedan) since my current Aerostar is rusting pretty badly...powertrain is strong, but it's going to look like crap in a couple more years.
I do know of at least one fellow with a 3.0L V6 Caravan who replaced the A604 automatic with the A543 manual from a Daytona.
The problem with this, for me, is that my Chrysler Town & Country, is really my wife's and has been notated before, tis not a good idea for me to be fooling with her car. However, what's in their is actually pretty good, excepttt for putting the car into a lower gear, coming down a hill, pulling a trailer. It has the 3.8 L engine, but it does pretty decent for it's size and it normally is turning about 2200, at 70mph.
I think Chrysler makes a pretty decent engine - they took some good tips from Mitsubishi, but I hope their new electronic automatics are better than their old ones. That A604 was in every 3.0L car they made and it was an absolute junk heap. Finicky and weak!
A neat thing I recently discovered is that the Aerostar is basically a truck with a van body. I guess every mechanical component from the Ranger and Explorer are swappable into (or out of) an Aerostar...I wonder what I could do with some time and money...???
I had not realized that, either. my problem is every FORD i have know has been a pile of junk. I feel their quality is defined by theeir ability to buiild in guarateed obsolesence within a very tight specific number of mile's. I think they know exactly what their not doing.