Sat 27th Feb 2010 I did bought a van, a Volkswagen Transporter T4 from 1999, called “The Salsa Shuttle”.
While my first answer is always “why not?”… there is more behind this decision and I want to share here my idea that buying a car is a much worse idea than buying a van.
It happened that I found myself driving a van for 2 weekends in a row: first driving the artists around for the Amsterdam Salsa Festival (which was lot of fun) and then taking my team mates from eStilo show group to Frankfurt (and back).
Both weekends were great and I spot the possibility that having a van is the way to go.
As my inspiring French friend Xavier use to say, a van can do anything a car can do… and much more.
This is a list of things I can do with my van:
– going to a Salsa party with a 8 other friends
– going to kite surfing on the beach with some friends and full equipment, getting changed inside the van if it’s a bit cold (and here in Holland it is!) with no need to take 2 cars
– stay on the beach for a BBQ, then sleeping in the van and go to the office the day after
– put my bicycle (or more) in the van, so if I park far from my house I can cycle home (typical Amsterdam problem) or I can go somewhere and cycle there
While I’m not planning at the moment to rent out my apartment to live in the van like some people do (check http://www.frugal-retirement-living.com/living-in-an-rv.html) I think is nice to know that with such a great vehicle I have plenty of possibilities that are just not possible with a normal car.
Problem is, people buy cars under the social pressure of “girls only go out with people with Porsche”, “if you drive a BMW you’re wealth”, “I got a baby then I need a SUV”, etc. etc.
This happens in most social environment, but I’m lucky enough to live in a place, Amsterdam, where this is just not happening for different reasons.
People here are practical and move around with bicycles, by far the best way to get around the city.
Girls won’t complain if you arrive with a old bike, and your neighbor won’t laugh at you if you don’t have a car, or if you have an old Fiat Uno (btw, there still ARE Fiat Uno driving around).
Well, look like I choose the right environment to don’t have the pressure to have an expensive car, but this is indeed also because if you live in the city, a car is not required at all.
If you live in rural area, then the story is probably the same as in any other rural area around, and the logic of “big car, big house” will kick in.
Anyway, we were talking about my new vehicle.
I love it.
It has none of the fancy useless optionals so important in modern cars: no electric windows, no A/C, no ABS, no central lock, no remote control, no lights turning on automatically or parking sensors.
Damn, this is a van, not a luxury car!!
It drives smooth and the 2.5 TDI engine is powerful enough to move 9 people around with a comfortable cruising speed of 120-130 Km/h.
If you argue that is not that fast, well I have a 260Km/h motorbike so if I need speed I won’t definitively take the van! 😉
Once I decided to buy a van, it took me 1 week to find the right one.
I went bus-shopping in a couple of places, initially looking for a Mercedes Vito.
The Vito is the van that offer the most car-alike driving experience, plus is Mercedes that would make my dad extremely proud of me.
Vito’s turned out to be all too rusty and with too many KMs to take the risk… so I found this Volkswagen T4 that looked like the best surf-van ever 🙂
It was, according to the dealer, used as a school bus.
I like to think that an old man drove this van for 11 years, taking the little kids around.
Every now and then, a little kid would pee on the seat and would start crying.
One day, the old man retired and had to abandon his loved school bus and the routine of the itinerary to drive every day.
At that point, a young man got hired to replace the old man and as a first thing he asked for the old mini-bus to be replaced with a new model.
I may be totally wrong, but I like to think that this is the history of my van before it became known as The Salsa Shuttle 🙂