The versatility, size and comfort of a Volkswagen Transporter makes it the ultimate adaptive family vehicle, particularly when a family member requires the use of a wheelchair or scooter. It can be adapted to accommodate both drivers and passengers in their wheelchairs and still leaves enough space for the rest of the family. The level of safety that Volkswagen have built into this vehicle gives peace of mind to parents transporting their precious children and enhances the driving ability of any driver with a disability.
Driving from the wheelchair – the ultimate independence
‘Freedom’ is what Frank Juskievitz found in his Volkswagen Transporter. Life in a wheelchair did not slow Frank down for very long. But after years of transferring between a wheelchair and a car seat multiple times per day, Frank’s shoulders gave in and it became too painful to transfer. That meant that he could no longer get into or out of a car and his independence was shattered.
After months of searching for a solution of how to drive from his wheelchair, his breakthrough came when he discovered that a Transporter was available in automatic. With assistance from Volkswagen Commercial at Unitrans Motors in Alberton, they removed the driver’s seat from a demo vehicle and assisted him into the vehicle to check that he fitted under the steering wheel while sitting in his wheelchair. From there it was just a question of finding a conversion company that could pull together how he would access the vehicle, how to secure the wheelchair and fitting the hand controls. And, then began the fundraising.
Frank was fortunate to get support from Red Skins Golf Club and from friends, who assisted him with fundraising. His dream was slowly converted into a reality. His Transporter not only became his freedom and independence, but it opened possibilities for supporting other people with disabilities.
Being able to take himself to visit people without having to rely on someone else was worth every second of effort that he had put into his search for a solution. It also created the opportunity for him to take up scuba diving as the space in the vehicle allowed room from both passengers and scuba gear. At every opportunity, Frank and his Volkswagen Transporter will be found at Sodwana Bay.
For Frank to be able to drive without having to transfer himself in and out of the vehicle, he needed a lift to be fitted to the rear of the vehicle to give him independent access.
The rear door is opened and closed, via an actuator, which he can control by the push of a button. He had an aluminium floor lining fitted, which covers the stepwell on the passenger and driver’s doors so that his wheelchair wheels cannot fall into one of these gaps.
He removed the driver’s seat and fitted a docking station which secures his wheelchair when he is driving, and he had hand controls and a steering spinner fitted as he does not have enough grip in his hands to hold the steering wheel.
The position of the narrow console for the gear shift helps to create additional space for the wheelchair. He built a narrow holder which fits next to his wheelchair where he can store loose items.
Driving from a swivel seat
After 14 years as a C5/6 quadriplegic, Hennie Greyling has perfected his range of wheels to give him full independence – a central drive Permobile wheelchair and a 4MOTION Volkswagen Transporter.
His job involves lots of driving on rough dirt roads, regularly visiting sugar cane farmers. He frequently does up to 10 transfers a day in and out of his vehicle, along with plenty of hours behind the wheel. He also started developing pain in his shoulders from all the transfers in and out of his previous sedan but when he discovered that a Volkswagen Transporter was available in automatic and in 4×4, he did not look back.
Since his wife also needs to drive their Transporter, he chose not to drive from the wheelchair but rather went for the 6-way swivel seat.
The features of the vehicle that were important to him were firstly, the space available in a Transporter, particularly the head height as he is a tall man. Although he needs to duck his head when moving through the doorway, he can sit comfortably inside and has enough headroom when transferring.
Secondly, the 4MOTION was essential for him as he needs a 4×4 for the environment that he lives, works and plays in. The ground clearance is higher than any other vehicle in this range and it is the only one with a 4×4 option. He uses the cruise control all the time when driving long distances; this reduces the need to constantly apply the accelerator/hand control.
The 6-way swivel seat is an aftermarket conversion, which is height adjustable and enables him to adjust the height in relation to his wheelchair so he can always do a downhill transfer. This gives him the edge on making the transfers easier than a flat transfer.
Watch how it only take Hennie 47 seconds to get behind the wheel!
Hennie regularly needs to take extra passengers in his vehicle, so he had two flip-up seats fitted at the rear of the vehicle, which still allows him access when they are folded up.