For eighteen years our family had VW vans – that is the TA series after the classic Kombi was discontinued being manufactured. They were a box design, flat front and flat back, engine in the back.
Not that long back I found a wonderful article on News.com about a man who has maintained his TA VW van all these years.
“Geoff Innes owns the kind of vehicle that makes children wave, enthusiasts swoon and hotel porters happy to park on their forecourts.
“The soft-talking Sydneysider is among a conspicuously growing cult that favours character and cachet over mod-cons. For the same budget as an affordable new car, they opt for smiles-per-mile in a cool, modern classic.
“Innes, a father of five, has had to buy a vehicle to serve as work van, family wagon and “band bus” — he plays trumpet in reggae outfit King Tide.
“Reliability hasn’t been an issue, though with the clock nudging 250,000km the engine has recently been rebuilt. Parts are easily available and DIY fixes are a cinch, thanks to online enthusiast forums.”
We had a family of four children. There is no five seater sedan to fit the six of us. Down I went to the Kingswood VW centre near Penrith when living in Wallacia. This was way back in 1987. Chris Heyer was the propertier.
A conservation ensued that encapsulated that we had a family of six, the Australian cricket team chaplain, we were missionaries establishing the sports ministry.
Chris Heyer saw something in me and recognised if treated in the right way we would be back every 2 years or less (40,000kls) when we could change over the VW van.
He suggested we get the cheapest VW van – a panel van – then add approved engineering certificate 6 seats into the back of the van and a rubber mat. Air conditioning came with the vehicle.
We did the deal. We traded in a Ford Falcon station wagon and with all the savings and tax exemptions, we had a small sum of money to find. We found it.
Over the next 18 years, like clockwork, we exchanged vehicles every two years or less if we had clocked 40,000ks.
When we relocated to Moruya to establish Basil Sellers House in 1992, the AIS athlete respite lodge, it proved to be the ideal vehicle as the children became teenagers and the same process happened.
Chris Heyer sold up his Kingswood business before we relocated from Moruya to Tweed Heads. When it came time to change over the VW Van the Tweed Heads VW were unwilling to go through all the hoops as Chris had done.
My wife Delma suggested, now that we were empty nesters, perhaps it was time we moved back to a sedan. The Ford Dealership Principal Vic Larpardi, a fellow member of the Tweed Heads Chamber of Commerce, happily found a way to help.
The Fairlane range was being discontinued and with all out exemptions and help from a supporter friend, we finally after 18 years moved from the VW vans to a Fairlane which he ran for from 2006 to 2020. We have since bought three cars from Victory Ford thanks to Vic.
Missions need motor vehicles. Shop around. Find a dealer willing to hear your story and do a deal and in view, stick with them.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html