My Name is Brad Keegan and I live in the Hunter Valley NSW.
At 38 I became a double amputee, losing both legs 7 years ago.
After my rehabilitation it was determined that I would be a wheelchair user as prosthetics were not suitable for my situation.
When I came home I was hit in the face with finding out that I have lost way more than my legs, I had also lost my independence.
I had loads of support and I am very grateful for that, but it meant that I had to be very flexible when it comes to transport and travel. It was nice, but far from the same as being totally independent.
We looked at modification of my beloved VE SS, but that was looking at being around 17K and we would be stuck with an ageing vehicle with chunky bolt on modifications. I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to my car and that option was not very appealing at all and it was not very economical.
Through a series of events and chance meetings someone pointed me towards Al Palmer Repairs in Penrith NSW. I called and spoke to a guy named Al and immediately he understood my situation and said that there was a better option that I could get into. With no hesitation he sent his representative on a 7+hour return trip to come and see me in Muswellbrook, that in itself was fantastic. I was introduced to the Toyota Porte. Now the Toyota Porte – what was that? What did it look like? Immediately wondered what did Porte mean, so I looked it up. It’s a French word that translated into doorway or opening. When I saw it I immediately understood why Toyota chose that name. It was because the access to the vehicle was through a huge fully automatic sliding passenger side door. Fantastic. Then the seat demonstration really opened my eyes – It slides and lifts you in and out of the car, immediately reducing the risk of a fall when transferring. It even becomes an electric chair with a remote joystick controller on the armrest. This will not replace your chair, but for short trips to the shop in a synch and my manual chair folds up and can be safely restrained in the back. I can do it all be myself, no problems at all. Now when I got inside I was instantly impressed with the layout and the hand controls. My version of the Porte was a self-drive version, but other versions are available. Al and Scott will sort that out for you. I was that determined to driver again the even if you put a fridge in front of me I would of worked a way out to drive the thing. I had never driven a hand controlled vehicle in my life and seriously it took me about 5 min to become totally comfortable with it. It was smooth, easy and pleasurable to drive, nothing clunky or hard about it at all in fact it was very smooth and simple. Needless to say I said take my money to Al and Scott, I was sold. Now about these guys, Al and Scott Palmer; they are very genuine people who want to give you a product that is safe, and giving you your mobility and independence back – I felt their genuineness immediately. I have now owned my Porte for over 3 years and I absolutely love it. It’s reliable, affordable and economical to run. I have driven by myself to Queensland and all over the place with no hesitation at all, it’s a Toyota. The Porte is basically a Yaris chassis, engine and transmission, but with a different body all built around the doorway or access. The only immediate issue I had was not with the vehicle but with the comprehensive insurance? All major insurance companies deem hand controls as a performance modification? Really? But this is a factory vehicle with factory controls, nothing modified at all – So I made contact with Toyota Australia and surprisingly they steered me to Toyota Insurance. I didn’t know they even had one. I told them of my vehicle that was imported from Japan and their exact words were “This vehicle was manufactured for people in your situation and we can insure you” Fantastic. So I have a Toyota factory disability drive vehicle and Toyota insurance that ended up being cheaper than my wife’s car. Win/Win! Bur the most important thing was that I had my Mobility and Independence back and that can’t be easily expressed in words. Al and Scott are still in touch with me and with Scott living in Japan nothing is an issue, he even got me factory fog lights for the Porte. I have no hesitations what so ever in endorsing Al and Scott Palmer from Al Palmer Motors in Penrith, in fact I urge you to contact them to see if they have something that can bring you feelings that no words can explain with mobility and Independence. There is always new models coming out from Toyotas Welcab Division in Japan (Welcab is Toyotas Disability/Mobility Division in Japan). Al and Scott attend most disability events and are defiantly givers, not takers when it comes to Disability Transport. When it comes to after sales support Al and Scott are just a phone call away and are more than happy to talk to your local serviceman about the Porte and the servicing of the chair and all the other controls and can supply any part required. They keep a large range of spare parts in Penrith but can also source out of Japan if required as they have a constant shipment of vehicle coming out that Scott has personally sourced and purchased. At the end of the day Business is Business, but with Al Palmer Repairs you also get a relationship. In the world of Disabilities that is one of the hardest things to find – Someone that cares and is genuine about your situation.
Brad Keegan J.P