Volkswagen may have retired the “Drivers Wanted” advertising tagline in 2005, but for Scott Quinnett, the slogan remains the heart and soul of his business.
Quinnett owns Dragonflyvans, a Coeur d’Alene-based company that rents classic Volkswagen Westfalia camper vans to locals and area visitors seeking a one-of-a-kind Inland Northwest experience.
“Vanagons are comfortable, fuel-efficient and super fun to drive,” said Quinnett. “These vans have everything you need in order to spend a few days with friends at the Gorge for a concert, fly fishing on the St. Joe, rafting the Lochsa, mountain biking B.C., or hiking and camping at any of the other amazing places within range.”
His insurance company couldn’t understand why anyone would want to insure a fleet of nine 1986-87 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Wolfsburg Edition Weekenders, but to Quinnett the request seemed reasonable enough. After all, what better way to explore the open road than in a fully-outfitted mobile hotel room, or “adult amusement park ride” as he calls them.
Though Quinnett holds a psychology major and philosophy minor, he would rather spend his days working on flat-four engines than tinkering with the human mind. Having been a professional Audi mechanic and proud owner of 27 Volkswagens throughout the years, he now focuses energy toward keeping his rental fleet in tip-top shape for customers looking to cruise the Inland Northwest in retro-style.
Each Dragonfly Van has been rebuilt and inspected by Quinnett and can comfortably accommodate up to four adults. While no two vans in the fleet are exactly alike, each comes with two queen beds, privacy curtains, a premium iPod-ready sound system, auxiliary battery and inverter, retractable awning, 2-inch trailer hitch receiver and Yakima Rack crossbars.
Customers can then customize their Vanagon with a number of available add-on options, including sleeping bags, cooking kits, propane stoves, ice chests, tables and chairs, portable heaters and lantern kits. You can even get your van pre-stocked for your trip with toilet paper and firewood.
Quinnett believes Dragonflyvans’ unique combination of rental car mobility and semi-luxury camping create an ideal means to explore the area.
The 40-year old Cheney native’s passion for Volkswagens is obvious. As he shares the story of his lifelong affinity for driving and repairing them, his eyes shine with intense vitality and his shaggy, greying hair seems restless under the greasy trucker cap perched atop his head.
“There’s really nothing quite like cruising down the highway in a Vanagon,” said Quinnett. “Customers get a quick orientation so they’re comfortable with everything, then they hit the grocery store on their way out of town and are free to roam.”
You can drive 175 miles per day when you rent from Dragonflyvans and, unless you’re part of a group that’s renting multiple vans, your travel area boundaries are roughly Nelson, B.C., to the north, Missoula to the east, Hells Canyon to the south, and the Columbia River to the west.
If you assemble a group of road trippers to join the adventure, your travel range increases significantly. Groups that rent three or more vans can cruise to the Oregon Coast for surfing, to the Olympic Peninsula to hike the Hoh Rainforest, or camp for a few days in Glacier National Park. Group rentals also get “shepherd service,” which means Quinnett follows your convoy from a distance, ready to repair or swap out Vanagons should anything go wrong.
“If something happens to a customer out on the road, I’m ready to act fast,” said Quinnett. “I work hard to keep these vans in top mechanical condition, but these vehicles are over 20 years old and we all know stuff happens. My goal is to get you back out on the road as quickly as possible.”
Dragonflyvans are available to rent for a minimum of three days and maximum of two weeks. Pricing varies depending on your add-on options, group size and trip duration, but Dragonflyvans generally cost less per day than R.V. rentals or rental cars and hotel rooms together.
Quinnett feels strongly that vans offer much more than the typical R.V. rental can. “Vans give you more access to campsites, get better gas mileage, handle like a car and don’t require R.V. hook-ups. Plus, Vanagons are a classic piece of Americana; the joy of driving one is just something that you have to experience to understand completely. And once you do, you’ll be hooked.”