The skinny on the mini, Pt. 1

21 05 2009

Long before DVD players were embedded into the backs of headrests in clever little hybrids, they descended majestically from the roofs of mini-vans.

Long before tables and chairs were incorporated into the newer models, they were prevalent — along with curtains — in Conversion Vans. Ah, that conversion van. Driven by many a person who has multiple children and attends several soccer games; the handicapped; or those who can’t quite let go of the 1970s.

Their interior plush. Their drivers’ cab plentiful, often with a beautiful, wood-grained console with many, many cupholders. So popular are they, thathttp://www.classicvans.com/ claims to be the No. 1  van conversion dealer on the internet.

Point being, long before smaller cars started get big amenities, they were found in the oft-laughed at mini van.

But mini-van drivers ascribe to their own culture.

Did the A-team drive around in a Cadillac Escalade? I think not.  How did the Hoover family travel from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, Calif.  for the Little Miss Sunshine pageant — A Volkswagen Bus (van).  Did Chris Farley live in a Honda Civic down by the river? No. It was a van.

The blogosphere also has its share of minivan drivers popping up and discussing the vehicles. Are we uncool for driving them?

At Real Men Drive Minivans, blogger P.J. Mullen chronicles his life as a stay-at-home dad. But the title of his blog speaks volumes: any REAL driver should be proud to drive … the family van.

I am 24 years old and have driven mini-vans since I was 16. I plan to be buried in one. Oh their styles have changed through the years, from the airplanish Oldsmobile Silhouette (nicknamed Van of Satan because it always broke and had a foxy fuschia pleather interior), to VanGreene ; to my current ride, an updated version of the Oldsmobile Silhouette (DVD players and all.)

Yes, many laugh when they discover for the first time that a 24-year-old’s prime method of transportation is a stunning gold van named Beauregard.  Though the laughs turn to admiration when it comes to move from apartment to apartment, or cart a large contingent of drunks for latenight munchies. And, though they secretely never admit, enjoy knowing that at any moment, they can open the trunk and find a grill, weedwacker, or mattress, and sometimes, if they’re lucky, all three at the same time.

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