Ninty-three-year-old motorist at the end of the road

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1964 Mercury Comet Caliente

A 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente, like the Chariot. Image: Hugo90/Flickr/CC BY

Rachel Veitch, one of the nation’s oldest motorist, has been driving the same car since 1964. But time changes all things, and last week, Veitch told reporters that she has driven her last.

Driven to the moon and back

With more than 576,000 miles clocked, Orlando, Fla.-resident Veitch could have driven to the moon, back again and then some in the 48-year-old Mercury Comet Caliente she calls “the Chariot.” But at 93, her eyes are just not what they used to be. After running what she termed a “bald-faced red light” earlier this month, she has decided her days behind the wheel are done.

Veitch told in a telephone interview:

“I am legally blind, so I can no longer drive my lovely Chariot. They don’t have to take it away; I would not dream of driving that car again. I know I’m not safe enough to drive. But I have taken it in stride.”

On the ‘Tonight’ show

Two years ago, when the Chariot had racked up 559,000 miles, Veitch was briefly in the media spotlight, even appearing on the Tonight show with Jay Leno. At that time, the car-loving retired nurse told the press that the Chariot has outlasted three husbands, three sets of shock absorbers, eight mufflers and 18 batteries.

The Chariot suffered only one accident in its long life. It was a rear-end collision in 1980, and Veitch was unhurt.

Immaculately kept

The Chariot cost Veitch $3,289 in the winter of 1964. She has kept it in immaculate condition and kept complete records of everything, maintenance-wise. Her devotion to the Chariot is no doubt the secret to its longevity.

Veitch said:

“When I buy gas, I write down the mileage, the date and how many miles per gallon I got. I’ve never been a destructive person and I’ve just taken care of everything, except my husbands.”

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Future of Chariot uncertain

The future of the Chariot is now uncertain, but Veitch has a healthy attitude about putting her old friend aside

“A lot of people are worse off than I am. I don’t have cancer, I don’t have Lou Gehrig’s disease. I am lucky.”

But Veitch wants the Comet to go to caring hands. She made it clear to reporters Thursday that none of her four children or nine grandchildren will be seeing the pink slip:

“They’re not going to get it. They couldn’t take care of it like I did.”

The Chariot will go to Wisconsin to be part of a car show in July. Then Veitch is toying with the idea of asking fellow car-aficionado Jay Leno to make her an offer.

Thursday, Veitch said:

“I haven’t talked to Jay Leno yet, but I’m wondering if he’s interested.”


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