A 116-horsepower gift

As birthday
presents go, this was a pretty big one.

JD Martin
arrived at Advance Automotive Chevrolet on Monday afternoon to pick up his new
car, a gift from his niece Pauline McKenna, for his 67th birthday.

The 2.4 litre,
four-cylinder Chevrolet Malibu LT is specially outfitted to lift his wheelchair
and store it in a compartment on the roof of the car.

The
116-horsepower engine sedan replaces the vehicle Mr. Martin has been driving
for 12 years. Before that he had a station wagon that he kept for 20 years, but
he got rid of that last September, he said.

“The old car
was giving him trouble, he was paying to get it fixed all the time,” said Mrs.
McKenna, who along with her husband Billy, decided it was time to give her
uncle a birthday present he would never forget.

“It’s a good
birthday present,” said Mr. Martin.

He said he
intended to take the car on a long drive.

“I will take
it to West Bay for the first ride and then up to East End. I’ll get back by
6pm,” he said, shortly before pulling out of the dealership car park on Monday
afternoon.

He said his
car was the only one he knew of on the Island that had a chair topper, which
automatically stores a wheelchair.

Barron
Williams from the company that fitted out the car, Buddy’s Sunset Mobility
Center in Miami was also on hand to see the new owner drive the car out of the
lot for the first time.

 “The chair topper gives the driver
independence because it means another person does not have to be there to put
the wheelchair in the trunk,” said Mr. Williams. “Once they get to their
destination, they press the button and it returns the chair to them.”

The car has also been fitted out
with hand-controlled acceleration and brakes, and a spinner knob on the
steering wheel for easy control.

Mr. Martin
lost his legs in a forklift accident 21 years ago.

FEATwheelchaiorSTORY

JD Martin receives a kiss and the keys to his new specially modified car from his niece Pauline McKenna on Monday.
Photo: Norma Connolly
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