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designing a postal delivery car for rural mail routes

i.ve noticed the malibu has the right cubic space needed.over the impala or ford focus.. the impala & focus are still designed with the column shifter and the e-brake on the lower left..perfect... however, the malibu has the 4 cyl and workable cabin & less blind spots.. will i be able to swap steering colunms form the impala to the malibu to eliminate the floor shifter ? lonesome roads...
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Comments

  • edited July 2008
    It would have been pretty difficult in the days before airbags and with airbags it will be close to impossible. You're going to have to find a car that comes with the configuration you need. Are you looking at new or used cars? In what price range?
  • edited July 2008
    How about a right-hand drive Subaru? Of course, it does have a floor shift, but there must be a good reason why it is the vehicle of choice for so many rural mail delivery people.
  • edited July 2008
    The guy that delivers our mail uses a 4-cylinder Ford Ranger. Other local carriers use a Ford Focus, and another uses an old Chevy truck.
  • edited July 2008
    Talk to the local dealers about what you want to do. Maybe the auto companies have a solution already for you. And what about USPS? Maybe they have some suggestions. Unless you live in Canada. But then, you'd ask about the heater, not the steering column.
  • edited July 2008
    Anything is possible but I think you're going to open up a real can of worms by attempting a conversion like this. You better be very mechanically inclined to even consider it.
    What are you going to do about attempting to flip the rack and pinion along with all of the little assorted headaches that will come with attempting this?

    Other than a right hand drive Subaru I kind of agree with the Ford Ranger truck option. Our local rural mail carrier currently uses a Toyota Tacoma for this purpose and has had the same truck for about 8 years now. His prior delivery truck was a Ford Ranger and he has had no problems with either one; either mechanically or the suitability for the job.

    Other carriers around here generally use full size vehicles and the majority have column shifters but there are some who have been at it a long time with floor shifters and don't have a problem. Several left hand drive Subarus, an old Toyota Tercel, and a few Ford/Chevy full size pickups for instance.
  • edited July 2008
    I AM AN EX-RURAL CARRIER. I USED A HARD TOP CHEVY TRACKER. GREAT MILAGE. MY GAS ALLOWANCE MADE THE PAYMENTS. I INSTALLED A HYDRILIC PLUNGER TO MY BRAKE AND PUT A BRAKE PEDAL ON THE RIGHT SIDE. VEHICLE WAS SMALL ENOUGH TO REACH STEERING WHEEL FROM PASSENGER SEAT. WORKED GREAT AND INEXPENSIVE TO SET UP.
  • edited September 2008
    I am a rural carrier. First off you want something reliable and fairly cheap. Using a really good, newer vehicle on a route is not too smart. This job trashes cars. Try to find something with a column shifter and flat front seat...it will make your life much easier. Mercury sables are good as well as the ford taurus. I currently drive a Nissan quest minivan. It's got great space for deliveries and is set up perfectly without my doing anything besides taking the middle seat out. I got it for 2 grand and it has lasted 4 years on the job. Not bad! It also gets surprisingly good mileage on the route so my gas allowance certainly pays for it. It seems to wear alot better than the taurus I used to drive. The plymouth voyager is essentially the same vehicle as the quest...I use my quest to deliver in vermont, about 20 miles from the border...so it's about as north and cold and rough as you are gonna get. Good luck!
  • edited September 2008
    [b]"The plymouth voyager is essentially the same vehicle as the quest"[/b]

    No.

    Actually, it is the discontinued [u]Mercury Villager[/u] that is essentially the same vehicle as the old Nissan Quest.
  • edited September 2008
    The constant stop and go, and low-speed operation of a rural mail route would be ideal for a hybrid, but you probably don't have the budget for that. I don't think it's practical to turn a left-hand-drive car into a right-hand-drive -- the whole steering business will have to be replaced, and then there's moving the instrument cluster and the floor pedals. To do it right could cost a lot of money. Rural carriers around here appear to be using unmodified cars and trucks (A/T, of course) and just stretch to reach the wheel and the left foot for gas and brake. Not terribly safe, I'd guess... a bench seat and no floor shifter would be necessary. Any chance your spouse or S/O can share the duties and do the driving itself? They'll have to get used to coming in close to the mailboxes without clobbering them! Maybe you can work out some hand signals.

    Car designers are talking about having just a few platforms (various advanced vehicles) that you plug in the instrument cluster, electric steering, and pedals. That's a few years off, but would make it easy to shift back and forth between LHD and RHD!

    I've seen a RHD car or two (Subaru, I think) in the area, so they must be street-legal. Go ahead and ask various Japanese car dealers about it, but don't be surprised if you pay a big premium (and the controls may not be in English, and maintenance may be a problem/expensive). Have you asked the Postal Service if there's any way to obtain surplus RHD mail delivery trucks? Maybe they'll be worn out, and it may be hard to get someone to work on them (platform?), but it's something to consider.
  • edited September 2008
    well, a Prius has that center mounted speedo and such, so converting it shouldn't be too hard.
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