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8 passenger van solution $100

Updated on January 11, 2011

How I fit 8 people in a 7 passenger van for $100

Two years ago, we prepared to welcome our sixth child into the world. Part of this preparation included figuring out how we would transport our family of eight in our seven passenger vehicle. We had some options:

Buy a second car

Buy a bigger van

Leave someone behind

But, being a frugal and creative mom who likes taking everyone along, I came up with a thought. We had owned in years previous a Ford Aerostar, which we had found that we could take out the two captains chairs in the center and moved the third row bench into its place. This created a five passenger vehicle with enough room in the back for an air mattress – we actually camped in this vehicle more than once.

Remembering that vehicle design made me think that perhaps we could do some innovation in our Dodge Grand Caravan.

So, how did we get an 8 passenger van for $100? Here’s our story:

First we tested the theory that an extra third row bench seat would work to solve the issue. We removed the set of seats in the second row, and then moved the third row into the middle spot. When we discovered that they fit there just fine, then we knew that getting another third row bench would be a workable solution.

Our van had a 50/50 bench in the back and captains chairs in the center.

If you cannot move your existing third row seating into the second row and have it lock into place, then this solution will NOT work for you.

The second issue (how stuffed are we?).

We have them like this:

Back row:

Booster seat, one 15 year old (the size of one adult), and one middle sized kid

Middle row (since this was the original third row, it is exactly the same size as the back row) BTW - because the 3rd seat is over the wheelwells, it is a little shorter than the middle section, which is perfect because then there is room for kids to slide past and get into the back.

One infant seat, two medium sized kids.

Basically, whoever fits comfortably in the third row now will have the same amount of space in the new middle row.

As to space that is lost - there was a gap between the two chairs in the middle of the van, that was basically a walk through to the back (that space is now at the edges instead). All of our other storage space is the same.

Our van is NOT the stow and go.

As to the financial benefits: We bought the 3rd row seat for $100 at a junk yard (they were about $500 from the factory) . We have since paid off our van, so now we have seats for everyone and no car payment.

NOW, because I still would like more space (like when I see a dresser on the side of the road...), I am still praying for a 12 or 15 passenger van. But, I am confident that God will bring us what we need when we need it. Passenger #9 is NOT currently on the way...

I hope this helps you.


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      Seana 7 years ago


      You are pretty ingenious! Way to think on your feet!