Woman Who Drove Mercury 575,000 Miles Hangs Up Keys At Age Of 93

Over the past five decades, 93-year-old Rachel Veitch has been through three husbands, but only one car. She bought her tan Mercury Comet Caliente new in 1964 for $3,289. Now, after driving it nearly 600,000 miles, she has finally called it quits.

As she told Fox News last week, the Orlando resident knew it was time to stop when she ran a stoplight and had trouble reading large print in newspaper headlines. It's an important decision that not everyone is willing to make.


Her last trip in her car — which she had affectionately dubbed Chariot — was March 9th, but Veitch said she's taken her voluntary withdrawal from driving in stride. In the years before macular degeneration ended her long driving career, the retired nurse took meticulous care of the Merc, even writing down date, mileage and fuel economy figures every time she gassed it up. During her long and detail-oriented ownership of the car, Veitch has replaced 17 batteries, seven mufflers and has had scores of oil changes done. She only got into one wreck, in 1980, when someone rear ended her beloved Comet.

Veitch still has to figure out what to do with the car, but said that none of her four children, nine grandchildren or 11 great-grandchildren are punctilious enough to take care of Chariot, which is now valued at $12,000. She appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in 2010, and suggested that the renowned television host and car collector is worthy of owning her well-maintained ride. She hasn't yet asked Leno if he's interested.

Perhaps she should sell it to Jalopnik?

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It always makes me sad to hear stories about people who love their cars, because every year, there are fewer and fewer people who have that passion.

In the 50's and 60's, the car was an icon of American culture, because America built the best affordable cars in the world. You didn't choose a car based on its gas mileage or potential resale value - you bought it because you liked it. Getting there was important, but how you got where you were going - and how it made you feel - were just as vital.

Imagine walking into a Los Angeles Ford showroom in 1965 and seeing a brand-new cherry red white-top Mustang convertible with an A-code 289, four speed manual transmission, and 5 miles on the odometer. The winding Pacific Coast Highway is just a short drive away. If that doesn't get your juices flowing, you just aren't human.

I know there are plenty of people out there who don't care about cars anymore - I see them driving every day in their Toyotas, Kias, and various beat-up econoboxes. My roommate's '99 Civic languishes in the driveway. One of the headlamps is taped up, a spray-can repainted right-front quarter panel hangs precariously like some dead piece of skin, and it emits a tortured fan belt squeal every time it starts.

And every couple of weeks when I get out my bucket, hose, and various car-care products and stand barefoot on the driveway in the middle of my upper-middle-class white, suburban neighborhood, people walk by with their $1500 designer miniature dogs and look at me like I'm some kind of time-warped alien. Who washes their car anymore? That takes forever - there's a gas station wash just down the road. It's not "green" to pour those chemicals down the storm-drain. There are more important things in life. It's vain to show you care so much about such a material possession.

Then, I go take a drive down a canyon road with the windows and sunroof down, radio softly playing some background music, one hand on the wheel, feeling the wind blow across my face. And I don't care what anyone thinks anymore. This is paradise.

But, I suppose the times, they're a' changin.