Ford Wheelchair Vans Rear Entry Access Options

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The only wheelchair vans produced by Ford are E-Series full-sized vans. In past years, Ford was actively involved with minivans that were also relatively popular wheelchair van conversions–the Windstar and the Freestar.

While it’s been a few years since one could find a Windstar on a dealer’s show floor, we’ll examine rear access for the defunct minivans, as well as Fords’ full-sized vans.

The Ford Windstar

ford windstar 2002 rear entryMost minivans tend to receive a side entry conversion. That wasn’t necessarily that case with Ford’s first foray into the world of the minivan. A large number of Windstars were modified for rear entry. While some relied on ramps to allow the wheelchair user to enter and exit the vehicle, many used high-quality Bruno lifts to get the job done. That’s a reflection of its era’s preferences, the desirability of the nearly indestructible Bruno lifts and the solid construction of the Windstar. As times passed and sentiments changes, we began to see more side entry Windstars.

The Ford Freestar

ford freestar 2005 rear entry rampYou might assume that the Freestar was a completely different vehicle than the Windstar based on the difference in names. In reality, Ford made the odd decision or renaming several models in its stable with names starting with the letter F and the Windstar was among them. Overnight, it because the Freestar. Most of these minivans were converted for side access use, but the Windstar tradition of rear access lifts continued on some vehicles.

The Ford E-Series

ford e350 2010 rear entryFord has been building Econoline vans for half a century. These generic vans often find themselves as a part of a larger vehicle fleet or as a working vehicle. However, Ford does make a point of turning out many passenger-oriented E-Series vans every year, as well.

These vans are significantly larger than the minivans of the past. As is always the case with full-sized van, wheelchair users have a full range of access options. That extra space makes it easier to match people with the conversions they’ll like the most.

The E-Series vans can be converted for rear access. In fact, that’s a popular option with E-Series vans. Side entry is also feasible, but the large size of the vans can create tight spots when parking. That’s one reason why rear entry remains popular.

Another is the fact that many E-Series vans are purchased by companies or organizations that regularly transport the handicapped. In those situations, the buyer may not be interested in sacrificing any of the seating space. A rear access variation would only affect cargo space, making it an attractive option.

Rear access is possible via the use of a lift or a ramp. Lifts are common in commercial applications because of their durability, but individual buyers also frequently opt for them due to the height of the E-Series vehicles. Even after lowering, they sit high enough off the ground to adversely impact the safety and convenience of a ramp.

Ford has a history of producing rugged and durable vehicles suitable to conversion as wheelchair vans. It also stands out as the one manufacturer whose wheelchair van vehicles were most often converted for rear access.

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