Most people take their mobility for granted, but for some, getting around can be a major challenge, let alone travelling on longer journeys.
It’s a familiar situation for Abby Van Baar and parents Kim and Paul. Abby uses a wheelchair and is also affected by cerebral palsy, which places restrictions on the family’s movements.
The travelling itself aside, mum Kim said that choosing a holiday destination also presented difficulties for the family.
“Abby wasn’t a particularly good traveller in a car, and then when we’d arrive at a holiday destination, we found that many of the places we’d stay at weren’t very wheelchair-friendly, even though they claimed to be,” she said.
“This lead us to start thinking about the alternatives, and so we began researching for suitable motorhomes.”
Interestingly, researching for the right motorhome steered the family in the direction of high-end horse transportation and a chance meeting with an IVECO representative at a local equine show.
“We saw some beautiful transporters online and many were based on an IVECO platform, when we saw one in the flesh we thought that an IVECO was the right direction to go,” Kim said.
The family eventually settled on a Eurocargo ML160 cab chassis and had it shipped from Melbourne to Majestic Motorhomes in Bega.
The truck features IVECO’s Tector 6 turbodiesel engine producing 180 hp and 950 Nm, ample power and torque to motivate the vehicle which tips the scales at around 13 tonnes.
For a more relaxed driving experience, the truck was specified with an optional Allison S3000 5-speed automatic transmission. While assisting to provide a supple ride is rear electronically-controlled airbag suspension.
Both Kim and Paul have their heavy rigid truck licences, but driving duties are normally taken on by Paul, who loves driving the vehicle, according to Kim.
“The truck is so comfortable to be in, Paul says it’s like driving a plush couch – we have driver and passenger air suspension seats as well, which are really nice,” she said.
Abby enters the truck via a Ricon wheelchair lift and stays seated in the wheelchair which is then secured to special anchor points on the floor towards the front of the motorhome. A large section of the rear of the truck’s cab has been removed to allow walk-through access and visibility into the body.
The truck features all the amenities that allow the family to spend extensive time on the road, although at the moment Abby’s health prevents the family from travelling too far afield from medical care.
Included in the set-up is sleeping for six – Abby is treated to a queen size bed while Kim and Paul make use of a wall mounted, pull down queen. A leather double sofa bed also provides additional space should one of Abby’s carers accompany the family.
There are also full interior kitchen and bathroom facilities, with the body’s slide-out feature providing generous living spaces.
For year round comfort, the truck is equipped with two split system air conditioners, a diesel-powered heater, a solar power system with batteries and a generator.
On the outside the family has slide-out laundry facilities and a shower while on board tanks provide up to 900 litres of water. The family is also having a custom annexe made to fit the external pull-out awning. The annexe will be fully enclosed with windows and fly screens providing the flexibility for Abby to enjoy an outdoor space.
Kim said that the IVECO makes their movements so much easier and that Abby is enjoying the extra freedom the truck is providing.
“It’s just so much more convenient to have everything we need right here in the truck,” Kim said.
“Before having the vehicle even short trips and organising a night away were major undertakings.
“Abby is also thrilled with the truck and everything it’s allowing us to do. She’s named the truck ‘Purple Ivy’, purple is her favourite colour and ‘Ivy’ is short for IVECO.”