Story by Nazim Erdem, AQA Practice Leader

In a new series for NewsLink, we talk to people in our community about their personal transport, or as we like to call it “their rides”.  Naz interviews AQA’s Peter Van Benthem about his current transport and other vehicles he’s had in the past.

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

Both! We have our family daily drivers that suit their applications, and we also have classic cars that we store, and are driven on occasions or events.

My car is a 2016 Kia Carnival. Because I can’t drive, the van is modified to allow me and my power wheelchair to travel in it.

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

Other vehicles between our family are classic and collector cars. Currently we have 2 VH Commodores, XY panel van and a VF Maloo ute. Over the last 15 years, I’ve had many classic cars as I bought and sold many as a hobby and a way to raise funds to put back into restoring them to sell. But mainly (Ford & Holden) Aussie V8 Collector classics, had more Holdens even though I’m a bit of a Ford guy, but love both depending on the model.

In the last 15 years I have had: 7 HT/HK Holdens, 5 Holden Toranas, 11 1970’s Holden HQ, HJ, HX, HZ and 6 WB Holdens. Also 8 Ford XY, XA, XB, XC, 3 Toyotas, 2 Datsuns and 2 Mercs. I had a few Mustang USA muscle cars, and 1 Cadilac, which was an original teamsters mafia car, and 1 English convertible.

What modifications do you have / what features are good / what has it done for you?

My daily accessible vehicle, the Kia Carnival has had a lot mods done. The accessible mods are worth as much as the car was when new, but this really is a great accessible vehicle. The floor from the rear to the middle is lowered, allowing for more head room. I roll up and enter via the ramp at rear and drive my wheelchair into the van, then into a docking station which is located in the middle of the vehicle that locks the wheelchair in.

After my SCI in the year 1999, I didn’t have an accessible vehicle for about two years. I used taxis or public transport, which was good, but having an accessible vehicle was so good for my independence and getting my family and me out doing much more – it was a game changer.

All my carers drive me around in my car, taking me to work or chores. My wife or son can drive us to visit family and friends, and on country drives, which I love to do. And my buddies often pick me up and take us to parties or events.

What do you love about car culture ?

Between friends/family and I, we played around heaps with classic cars. What was a hobby turned into a fun way to fund more classic cars and gather like minded people together – we have made a lot of good friends. We started a car club and I’m the Treasurer, so we organise car events, hang out and go on cruises.

What would be your dream car or your Sunday car?

Any V8 convertible on a good day zipping around the countryside with a pub stop, country market or swap meet, hanging out with family & friends.

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

Having an accessible vehicle can be a key to more independence, inclusion in your network of life. Choosing an accessible vehicle starts with:

  • Who it needs to carry/service (you and ?).
  • The type of mods you need to make it accessible.
  • What you plan to do (travel? take extra equipment? or maybe a small car for city parking?)
  • Who is driving your car (you or family/carers?)
  • Your budget / funding body support to purchase and do mods?
  • January 25, 2023

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