never say never

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when asked about how large we'll grow our family, marc and i have often said we'll take as many as the good Lord will give us, "but, we refuse to drive a prison van." no kidding, we have large-fam friends that converted a prison van and we know of another family that eventually gave in and converted an old hotel shuttle bus.

now, with the upcoming birth of baby five and baby six on the horizon, we're car hunting. hubby's car only seats six and my minivan will only hold seven. of course, we're still refusing to buy an old prison van.

so, i did a google search for "eight to ten passenger vehicles" -- now, i know that large families are considered an antiquated notion in today's society, but this is ridiculous!

any advice you an give us in the "motor vehicles for large families" department will be greatly appreciated. our only restriction: no prison vans.


First, congrats on the Twins! I had to chuckle about your comment on the kids praying for a little brother. That will do it almost every time, especially in the 3-5 y/o range of prayers!

As for vehicle...You could go for a Chevy Suburban- 3 bench seats fit 9 people. If you get one a few years old, you'll get a much better deal. We have progresssed our way through vehicles (I miss my suburban) and have a 15 passenger Dodge Van- but we leave out the middle seat so there is room for the groceries (by far the biggest expense at our house!). Ford has a couple of big passenger Vans. If you can spare the big bucks, I think the Escalade and Navigator can have 3 bench seats, but...$$$

Come next month, we'll be back up to 9 kids at home, so we still need the room in our big Dodge for family outings, church, etc. Our poor van has close to 150,000 miles on it- we got it 10yrs ago for less than 20,000 and only 13,000 miles on it. Aside from needing new tires every so often, a new fuel pump, brakes, and now needing the inside of the roof/ceiling fixed, we haven't had any major problems with it. It might be the "prison" type van you are thinking of, but if you look around you can find different colors, etc. You can get creative and paint the outside, decorate the inside...(not that I was ever creative, but hey!)
I have to say, if we would fit, I'd still rather my old Suburban though!!!

Good luck!

We drive Suburbans, but then we're only six all told (so far.) It seats 8, provided that three of them like sitting pretty close in the third row. Great row for the toddlers, I've found, they're so far away that they have a Darwinian vibe going, survival of the fittest and whatnot. For vehicles that seat 9 and up, I'm afraid the only thing that comes to mind is those awful Ford vans . . . .

A Suburban with a bench seat in the front would easily fit nine.

I'm with you on the big vans.

I'm not drivin' a Vanna--no way.

My friend Cindy who has six children loves her prison van---she is so happy to fit her own children and everyone else who wants a ride.

nancy, i wasn't euphemising (is that a word?). it was a van that was actually used to transport prisoners! how crazy is that?

Get a limo, when they get too loud you can roll up the dividing window. And then you can use the intercom to give orders.

My latest dilemma in trying to decide if we should have a fourth is do I want to keep driving a van or get a car?? Good luck finding something for your growing family!

Chevy Express --Seats 12, room enough for the nine of us and a few friends.

Seriously, we have family friends with 6 kids who drove a limo. Worked for them, somehow! And they were easily recognizable around town. Good luck!

We drive a 2004 Toyota Siena minivan and it seats 8, but you have to specifically get the one the seats 8 (I think they are originally designed to seat 7). The middle row seat actually pulls forward so you can easily tend to a baby in a rear-facing car seat - the rest of the design is as good.

We were going for the Suburban, however the Siena has much, much better gas mileage and we got a new one for less than a used Suburban would cost (under $26k). Couldn't be happier with it!

God bless,

My parents got a GMC 12-passenger van, and we thought it was the best :) When they got it, it meant each kid could bring a friend on a trip to the beach or whatever, and now it just means that all of us, including my dh and dd, can go somewhere together when we're out visiting. They got it new in '88{I think), ordered it from the dealer really no-frills (ie no ceiling to need repairing :) just mainly a metal shell and rubber floor and vinyl seats, easily cleaned). I learned to drive on it, and it was always easy to find in the parking lot :). Me, I'd prefer to drive a real van than a mini-van, but may have to drive a minivan for a while....


Go for the V.W bus, baby.

I love the prison van comment. Can't wait to tell our kids.

Our first large van (which was a '78 Chevy van that held twelve) was purchased second hand from a man who had treated it with exquisite kid-glove care. So we were able to get some good years and a total of 240,000 miles out of it. The kids joked that we looked like one of those Baptist church excursion vans that we would see out and about. (the owner was two days away from trying to donate it to a church when we answered his ad.) But I know the kids will love the "prison van" analogy.

The older VW busses have 3 bench seats (seat 9). We drove an 8 passenger VW bus for over 20 years - we bought it new off the dealer's lot in 8/76 and sadly parted with it in 1/97.

For what it is worth, we drive a full-size van. Ours seats 7, but only because it was bought used and "customized". We found mini-vans to be, well, delicate. We also decided against Suburbans et al because you would pay extra for 4 wheel drive that you don't need. My van with studded snow tires made it through the last nor'easter to the 8 am Mass.

Last word about price: our van, used but in beautiful condition, was MUCH cheaper than a minivan. Why? Because nobody wants them.



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