In March 2009 we shifted from our farm into a courtyard house in the suburbs of Adelaide. We had been using a Subaru 4wd for farm work and a 1991 Toyota Microbus with a hoist for transporting Ashley, who is totally disabled. We wanted to reduce to one vehicle and as our joints do not move as freely as they used to we wanted to reduce the bending during loading and unloading. I located Freedom Motors when browsing on the web. I could not find anything in Adelaide that matched their “Freedom Dock” which seemed to suit our needs perfectly, and so with some reluctance I entered into discussion over the internet and by telephone with Freedom Motors. I found it hard to believe loading and unloading could be so simple! Sandra answered all my questions and seemed very friendly, but it was a bit daunting spending such a large amount of money sight unseen. My son was in Sydney almost every week and so I asked if they could show him a converted vehicle. Sandra took one out to his office, and he was very impressed with the quality of the product, and so we went ahead. We bought our Kia here from Stillwell Kia, but it was delivered to Freedom in Sydney for the conversion to be done by them. The conversion took about three or four weeks and our nerves were calmed by good communication with Greg and Sandra. To fit the centre drive wheelchair to the freedom dock we had to fly the wheelchair up to Sydney as the chair had extra low ground clearance. Qantas transported it to and fro and although there were a few problems when the wheelchair packaging disintegrated and the chair was slightly damaged, the Freedom staff helped sort it out with Invacare in Sydney, who checked it out and fixed some minor damage. Freedom then fitted the docking mechanism to the chair and sent it back home where it arrived in better condition than when it left. A week or so later we flew up to Sydney and picked up our car and drove it home with an unregistered vehicle permit. Stillwell Kia handled the approvals with the South Australian authorities and we finally got our vehicle. I can only say the conversion is brilliant. The Kia is good, economical and a pleasure to drive. But the conversion with a Freedom Dock is the best investment we have ever made. No more tedious tying the chair down, bending and twisting backs etc. Just drive it in, the lock goes clunk, shut the tailgate and off we go – wonderful. After almost twenty years of loading and unloading wheelchairs, this is the best thing ever. The vehicle looks so smart most people don’t even notice the conversion, and it comes as a real surprise when we open the back, flick the switch and lower the ramp and wheel out the chair. Ashley just loves it, as he is secure, comfortable and able to get around a lot more as it is easier for us to take him. The Kia has good air-conditioning which he needs, he has his own speakers and is close to all the other people in the car. The location of the chair means we can still carry three other passengers when we have Ashley and an additional two if he is not with us. We have now done over 10,000kms, some of it on very rough roads, the suspension works well and there are no rattles or leaks. The wheelchair compartment means the vehicle has fairly low ground clearance but this has not caused us any problems. The reversing sensors and reversing camera make manoeuvrability very safe and easy. The side plates were well worth the extra as they protect the side of the car. The diesel motor uses about 10 litres per 100km around town and down to 8.5 in the country. It has plenty of power, and although it feels a bit lumbering when taking off from the lights, it is surprising how other vehicles rarely shoot ahead of us. The vehicle looks fantastic as you can see from the picture. We had to make a few minor adjustments to the “Freedom Dock” when we got the vehicle back to Adelaide due to the length of the wheelchair but we talked them through with Greg Pretty on the phone and it was as easy as anything. I would recommend anyone to use Freedom Motors for their conversions. Obviously we are very well known in the disability field in Adelaide, and our vehicle is eyed with great envy. Thank you all at Freedom for such a professional job. We will probably be in Sydney next month and hope to get to see you to check it over after the initial usage period.
Yours sincerely, Richard Grace