How a Family Van Impacted Our Large Family

Jim Boyer
It was January, 1992, and my wife was about to deliver our 6th child. Yes, count 'em. Six! We had a family sedan, and I was fortunate to work for a company that provided me with a company car. Even more fortunate, a minivan was an option, which I took advantage of. But the minivan would hold only 5 kids, plus Lisa and me. # 6 was going to be a problem. Having a large family forces a parent to be creative and efficient - and to shop for large vehicles. Problem was, I didn't have room for a big car payment in my monthly cash-flow. But guess what happened! My employer's HR dept had just completed a salary survey, determined that I and my peers were underpaid, and the same month the baby was born I received a $350/month raise (which we regard as a miracle, btw). So, not wanting a 15-passenger bus, Lisa and I went car-shopping. We find a close-out deal on a brand new conversion GMC Vandura. It was fire engine red, which might explain why it hung around the lot for so long, forcing a close-out. We snatched it up, added a seatbelt to the bench in the back, and a week later I brought home from the hospital our new baby Jessica, along with Lisa and Jessica's 5 siblings - in our brand new firetruck - each with a seatbelt of their own. Mission accomplished. Two years later, here comes #7! Now, I hear you thinking, "this guy's crazy!". Well, no question about that, but this crazy guy had a very practical problem to solve. I needed another seat in the van. A visit to an upholstery shop got me a new bucket seat added. We made room by moving another bucket back a few inches. The fabric was not an exact match, but it looked pretty good. This was a good shop! So I bring home the whole family from the hospital - including baby #7, McKenzie, again each with a seat and belt of their own. Two years later, I finally found our caboose, #8! "Certifiable". "Nuts". I hear you! That's OK. When you're right you're right... Back to the upholstery shop... The upholstery guy can't stop laughing when he hears our newest idea for the van: We needed a small seat built, facing backwards, that would squeeze in between the two front buckets - positioned behind the engine compartment. A few weeks later, we bring home #8, Matthew, again every family member in a seat, and belted. Our conversion van is by now very unique. With 1 bench, and 6 buckets we very comfortably and safely seat 10 people. That red van was our Fire Truck, and our kids grew up in it. It helped us explore the red rock deserts of Southern Utah, and it pulled our camping trailer, then our old ski boat around. Our kids have fond memories in the firetruck. That old firetruck did one other thing for me that was significant: It helped me NOT have child #9! Lisa would've kept having kids. But I reminded her more than once that there was no more room in the van. The next child would be bolted to the luggage rack! That van not only transported us around in relative style and comfort; it helped me define my family: 6 beautiful girls, and 2 fine sons, all in tow with my lovely wife, Lisa to raise them. Hat's off to GMC and three cheers for my upholstery shop friend!
mark rask
Thanks for sharing this story jim
Mark Miller
Having a repair shop (of any kind) that is open to outside the box thinking and finding solutions to real world needs is a great thing. I'd say they are a keeper. As you said, it helped you keep the family INSIDE the vehicle, and it helped define your family. Great story to share Jim.

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