Volkswagon T5 Caravelle , Transporter Accessible Van
Van Extras custom built my VW Caravelle T5 van so that I am fully independent with my driving and transfers. It’s a great vehicle and ACC were happy to fund it for me in an effort to reduce the ongoing issues with my shoulders. 30 years of walking on crutches totally wrecked my tendons and rotator cuff. Pulling a wheelchair into my car over the top of me aggravated this issue badly.
My T5 has a Ricon power seat that slides back into the position that row two seats were in. From there I can slide across onto my parked wheelchair. The seat goes up and down and also rotates. So transferring to the wheelchair is downhill with the driver’s seat raised and transferring back to the driver’s seat is also downhill with the driver’s seat lowered. It’s just like magic.
Parking is a big issue though. The hoist comes out the side of the van from just under the chassis rails and when parallel parking it hits the kerb or ploughs into the top of the footpath. Parking in the accessible carparks around town doesn’t work unless the carpark next to it is vacant. If it is I park diagonally across both parks.
On several occasions I parallel parked but facing the wrong way. This was dangerous because the hoist came out into the path of traffic and on one occasion got me a ticket.
I had long conversations with Wayne at Matangi Motors in Hamilton about a fix for this problem. Wayne and his team borrowed my van for a week and designed a set of hydraulic rams that would live up inside the back and front mudguard area on the left side of the van. Once they had worked it out they quoted the price to ACC and with a little persuasion from me, ACC decided to fund the modifications. The vehicle went back to Matangi and they first made mock ups with steel tubes in order to design the brackets and rams. It was a huge job but in the end it works very well.
I can now park in any parallel carpark, I don’t have to look for accessible ones and its now a joy to go out when and whenever I want to without the pain and stress of transferring to or from my chair.
If you have a VW Caravelle or Transporter with an underbody hoist you should talk to Wayne. If ACC funded your van then they should look positively at funding this perfect fix for the problem.
If you want to have a look at my van email me firstname.lastname@example.org