Earlier this year we bought a car that needed a wheelchair access conversion. Our reason for buying a new car was due to John having MS and no longer transferring from his chair to our sedan and in doing so we considered the following things for our needs. We wanted a family car that caters for John, room for our two teenage boys and grandchildren at the same time. It needed to look like a family car not a cargo van, be wide and have efficient height inside and enough room for John’s future chair needs and room to put things. We wanted new because we have plans to travel in it and have it last a long time, and we wanted value for money. The car needed to have some easy access tools to make life easy for handlers, eg automatic ramp (need to look after our backs). We wanted John near the front, not at the back as we wanted him to feel he was part of the family not cargo, and we could talk easily. Last but not least easy access to sitting for John’s mother who is elderly. After much searching we chose a KIA Carnival. We then hunted for businesses that converted cars through the internet and word of mouth, wished we had done this first as we could have had the whole package of car and conversion in one with Freedom instead of the extra run around and cost we had. We chose Freedom Motors at St Mary’s Sydney as it was the most professional looking of all we searched and they had many conversion options to choose from. In addition to this we were able to look at another conversion of a KIA Carnival done by Freedom Motors owned by another person here in Darwin. After seeing her car and talking to her over her and her friend’s experiences we knew what we wanted. We were extremely impressed with the workmanship, professional look and immediately thought the car and conversions demonstrated exactly what we had thought from the internet site and what we wanted to fulfil our needs. What we bought:- 2009 Compliant Kia Grand Carnival(LWB)- petrol ( Diesel is more economical in hindsight) , paint glazing and tinted windows . Basic conversion – ‘family conversion’ dropped floor cage; manual ramp; 4 tie down points and tie downs and lap belt; 2 modified bucket seats. Extra conversions – Fold down double rear seat (extra 2 people when we need it), full length anchor tie down points ( a strip all the way down the floor for moving the chair anywhere if we want to, or add an extra wheelchair in, or needed to readjust space); Freedom Dock automatic wheelchair restraint system (all we have to do is push him in and it locks him in, no bending for us to tie him in, it releases with a button); Automatic electrically operated ramp system with push button( no work for us). The company was easy to communicate with and bent over backwards to get the job done on a deadline that significantly shrunk due to no fault of theirs but the Car Dealer delivering it 3 weeks late and the wheelchair was not delivered when it was promised it would be. We thought the cost was competitive compared to other company’s and from the finished product it was well worth it. Communicating was always easy by phone or emails and the crew at Freedom were always very helpful and informative from the manager right down to the ground crew. Questions were answered promptly and always with reassuring answers. Freedom Motors are very easy going and back their product with fantastic after care. Although we are over 4000 km away there have been always quick results to answer our queries. Using the car: Amazingly we have been out heaps since getting it and instead of taking 10 – 20 minutes to get in and out of the car it takes 2 minutes, push in and click, do up the seat and off we go. To drive, it is easy to turn on a 10cent coin as they say, reversing is okay using the mirrors but reversing camera would been a better choice. The floor plan of the car is great for transporting people. We have had many trips with the car full of people. Very comfortable except the middle seats have a large step to get up into the car, we should have put on side steps. It has great air conditioning front, middle and rear. The placement of John being in the middle has been great for socialising in the car. The Conversion: The job was well done, amazing process! We would not hesitate to use Freedom Motors again and we stand behind our recommendations for others to consider Freedom very seriously for future conversions. We can not stress enough how obliging and efficient this company is. They blew us away with their commitment to the customer, us, when time was our biggest problem. Really ecstatic we have it. It has made a remarkable improvement to our lives; so much that we nearly have a different one!
Thanks Freedom! John and Jenny McCrory, NT.