We took a few rides with Denton's local pick-up service, Wandervan, loved what the whole experience. You can check out those exploits here. By now you've probably seen owner/driver, Jason Upshaw's bright blue van all over town. We got the dude to talk with us a bit about his business, his vintage van collection, and his plans for Wandervan. Read on for more!
WDDI: Yo, Jason! Tell us a little about yourself.
Jason Upshaw: I grew up in Alvin, TX, moved to Denton in 1998 to go to UNT and play music. Early on, I was very active in the music scene. I played with a few different bands and ended up touring with Midlake as their tour manager and running sound. I stopped doing that when I got married to my wife Jane. We have two children, Ruby Danger Upshaw and Rufus Wild Upshaw, and we have another baby due in December.
What made you decide to make Wandervan a reality?
Transportation options have always been limited in Denton. We felt like it was a need that was overlooked but a need that is exacerbated by how fast our population is growing. We felt like using old vans would be a great way to address this and do it in a way that is uniquely Denton.
Has juggling Wandervan with your day job been difficult so far?
Yes, it has definitely presented some challenges. Between my day job, having a young children, and starting a new business, We’re very busy these days. Jane handles the behind the scenes, day to day items and I do what I can when I’m not working my day job. It’s challenging but it’s also a really exciting time for me and my family.
What type of automobile were you looking for to create Wandervan?
Well, I wanted to use an older vehicle that was easily identifiable, could hold more passengers than the typical cab, and was relatively easy to work on and find parts for and wouldn’t bleed me dry financially. I knew I wanted to use vans and I looked at different models. VW’s are too expensive to work on. I looked at Chevy Corvair Greenbriar’s but the engine is aircooled which would present some problems adding air conditioning. We decided to go with the 1st generation Ford Econoline’s, but I also love the Chevy Gseries and Dodge A100’s from the same time. I’m open to those as we get more vans, but it will come down to what’s available mostly.
Which van is your favorite?
I love all of the 1st generation vans. I really love the Corvair Greenbriar because you don’t see them very often and the engine is in the rear rather than between the driver and passenger seats.
Can you explain to us how Wandervan works?
We are an on-demand shuttle service exclusively serving the city of Denton. We developed a phone app to make booking and payment as easy as possible. You can schedule rides in advance or on-demand when you need a ride.
Why would a Dentonite want to take Wandervan over Uber?
Availability, you’re with a group, or you want a ride with someone that actually knows how to get around town. We also offer recommendations because we are actively involved in what is going on in town.
What type of event would a person would take Wandervan for?
We get all kinds and welcome all kinds. Whether you’re going out at night, running to get groceries, having a special event... we’re happy to give you a ride and get you where you need to go.
You’ve partnered with Repo’s Garage for Wandervan. How has that gone so far?
Working with Repo’s Garage has been a great experiencing. Repo has been instrumental in helping me achieve our vision for Wandervan. When I was trying to find a place to help me get everything built, everyone kept telling me “you have to go to Repo”.
He’s kind of an overall badass that can do it all, and I find myself going up to the shop just to be around it all. He’s known for his paint and body work. He’s definitely the best painter in town and he knows classic cars but he also built the seats, installed the A/C, told me when my idea was crazy or unrealistic. I couldn’t have asked for a better shop to partner with.
Have you had any interesting events happen so far?
Oh sure, some I probably shouldn’t share, but nothing too crazy. After you drive people around a few times, you get to know them and I’ve started some great relationships with people I never would have met otherwise. It’s like a tamer, PG13 version of Taxi Cab Confessions on HBO.
If you could have any automobile in the world as a Wandervan car, what would it be?
That’s a good question. The van’s work pretty well from a functional standpoint. I love the AMC Rambler Wagon’s. If I could find a good reason to get one of those, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
What do we have to look forward to from Wandervan in the future?
We will be expanding our hours of operation soon. We will have our second van ready and we have a new app being developed which will allow us to better serve our customers. We also plan to add Airport Service later this year.