by Nazim Erdem, AQA Practice Leader

In this issue of Me & My Ride, we speak with Andrew, who is an incomplete para.  Andrew drives a Holden Calais sportwagon, and also has a Harley Davidson trike which he takes out when the weather is nice. Naz Erdem interviews Andrew about his current transport and other vehicles he has, or has had in the past.

Is your vehicle just a means of transport or a hobby?

I have a 2018 Holden Calais station wagon which I bought just prior to returning to driving after my accident. It is my primary means of transport and suits my needs very well.

Do you have any other vehicles, and what have you owned in the past?

My other vehicle is a 2022 Harley Davidson Freewheeler trike. Bikes have been a hobby of mine since childhood and I really needed to get back on a bike. Even though it isn’t used daily it’s a great feeling to know it’s there and I can get on it and go for a ride. I can strap my walker onto the bike for walking short distances.

What modifications do you have?

The car has hand controls and the bike has an electronic gear changer called a quick shifter which came from the USA and was fitted by a Harley Davidson technician.

The quick shifter is fantastic and I now can change gears with my left thumb by pressing small buttons next to the handgrip to go up and down through the gears.

What features do you love about your car?

The best features on the car is the electric tailgate/boot open and close, and power assisted drivers seat adjustment. The car also has adaptive cruise control which works really well with the hand controls. It has some great options which makes life easier.

What would be your dream car or your Sunday car?

I am very happy with my current vehicles but I suppose a V8 Holden ute would be fun to drive on Sundays.

Andrew had the quick shifter fitted to his Harley Davidson, allowing him to change gears with his thumb.

Any advice for others looking at setting themselves up with a modified vehicle?

The best advice I can give to people looking for a suitable vehicle is to do a lot of research. I’d encourage you to talk to people who are in a similar situation to yourself. I also found the team at AQA were very helpful in my case.

While in the Royal Talbot, I did a lot of practice sitting in the driver’s seat and taking the wheels off the wheelchair and putting them on the front passenger seat of the simulator car, which was a Holden Commodore set up. I already knew what was possible when the time came to look for a car.

It’s important to look at plenty of different cars for transferring, some were too high, too low, doors too small, too heavy etc. If you are going to put the wheelchair on the front seat don’t get an expensive car as it WILL get damaged.

I still remember the look of horror on the sales person’s face as I disassembled the chair and tried to transfer it between my chest and the steering wheel on a brand-new Audi.

Everyone’s needs and abilities are different, and for me, it was a car that had plenty of space without being too big, and to be able to place the wheelchair onto the front passenger seat without wrecking the inside of the car.

The helicopter belongs to a mate of mine and the photo was taken back in April 2022 when I went for my first flight in a helicopter since my accident. It was amazing, not a worry at all, felt like I had just had a short break from flying.
  • February 9, 2024

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