Our vehicles are more than just body parts — they’re part of our lives

1992 Toyota van packs it in after 20 years of great memories

As we find out each year at the Langley Good Times Cruise-In, our vehicles are often so much more to us than just a means to get from A to B.

That is certainly true about the 1992 Toyota Previa which our family has been using since the spring of that year. Bought new, it has served us ever since, with very few hiccups along the way.

It all came to a sudden end on Sunday night, in perhaps one of the worst places for a vehicle to have major problems — the Port Mann Bridge.

I had driven over a 2×4 that was in the middle of a street in Burnaby, in the dark. It somehow damaged the radiator and the fluid leaked out. By the time the warning lights came on along Highway 1, the engine was too badly damaged for it to be repaired.

While I am deeply regretting this and not looking forward to the heavy cost of replacing it, I am also looking back fondly on a vehicle that my family literally grew up in.

My wife and I bought the van in 1992, after making a trip to California in a two-door hatchback that was clearly too small for two adults and two young children. Our daughter, who is now 22, was just walking and beginning to talk. Our son was four.

We’d looked at used vans but were very impressed with this new model that Toyota had just introduced. It had a huge windshield (one I’m told is very hard to replace); bucket seats; rear seats that folded down to provide more space and was very spacious overall.

We loved using it for camping trips and have been all over B.C., into Alberta and Saskatchewan, and across Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming with it. It’s raced down freeways (when there was no speed limits in Montana) and climbed steep mountain roads.

We’ve transported bikes to cycle along the Kettle Valley rail trail; hauled canoes to fish in many varied lakes; and transported reams of kids in it, as our children were growing up. It’s been to countless soccer games, golf courses and horseback riding lessons.

It’s been parked at the now-closed Hillcrest Drive-In, as we watched the first of the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

We’ve transported our own grandparents and parents in it many times. All but my parents are no longer among us. We’ve driven it to weddings, parties and funerals. It’s been used for pizza delivery.

It’s been used many times to help people move — with one of the most recent occasions helping our adopted daughter and granddaughter go to a new home in Vancouver.

My daughter has filled it to the roof numerous times to transport bags of recyclables, to help fund a foundation she has set up in Sierra Leone, Africa, offering university scholarships.

Both my son and daughter learned to drive with it, and have driven it many times. Neither loved doing so, preferring smaller and sportier vehicles, but used it when necessary.

It’s served us well and faithfully, as a good vehicle should. If it could talk, it would telling a lot of great stories.