This 110-Year-Old World War II Veteran Still Drives His Pickup Truck

Photo: National Geographic/YouTube (screengrab)
Photo: National Geographic/YouTube (screengrab)

Richard Overton is the oldest living U.S. military veteran in the world, but don’t think having a DOB of 1906 on his driver’s license means he can’t still enjoy the rumble of a great American V8, because Overton still drives his late 1970s Ford truck. Like a boss.

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I’m sure some people find the idea of a 110-year-old person driving a car rather frightening, especially after you read stories of people 30 years Overton’s junior getting into nasty avoidable accidents.

Instead, I’m just going to marvel at this centenarian’s lifelong love for cars. In the short National Geographic documentary, Overton, of Austin, Texas, mentions automobiles a number of times, recalling the first time he ever knew someone who actually owned a car, way back when he was picking cotton for 50 cents a day:

I remember when a man got his first Ford... And we heard that he was gonna get a car. We didn’t know what a car was. We’d heard about it, but we never would come to town much.

Overton says his first car was also a Ford: an old hand-crank Model T, to be exact. Fast forward many decades later to when this documentary was filmed, and he still drives a Ford, but this time a late ‘70s Ford F-100 Custom pickup.

It may seem a bit odd for a man his age to still be on the road, but in the documentary, Overton says that when he goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his license renewed, he has no issues passing the tests, saying: “Everything they give me now I pass it.”

The World War II veteran goes on, saying: “I feel good going on driving... I like to drive myself, ‘cause other drivers, they drive crazy.” Based on the footage, it looks like he’s surprisingly decent at driving his 91-year-old friend to church and out grocery shopping.

Overton says he’s not a big fan of buying new things just for the sake of it, citing his truck as an example:

I’ve got a truck out there and it runs just like I want it. So I just keep it.

That’s my philosophy, too. I just need to work on the whole “runs just like I want it” part.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

DISCUSSION

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I’m sure some people find the idea of a 110-year-old person driving a car rather frightening, especially after you read stories of people 30 years Overton’s junior getting into nasty avoidable accidents.

You know what? No, I don’t find it frightening. If a person has a clean bill of health, pass an eye test, and can pass a driving test then I have zero problem with them driving no matter their advanced age*.

The problem I have is the lackadaisical attitude that we have in this country to issuing licenses. I would be ok having to submit the results of a medical exam on a regular basis for the privilege of driving. Pilots have to get medicals even to fly tiny little Cessnas, I think drivers should too.

The real problem I have though is that I see the other side of the argument. For much of the country the ability to drive has become so necessary to maintaining a living and quality of life that driving has become what I call a “pseudo right” and not the privilege that it should be. There are so many who shouldn’t be driving but if they were prevented from doing so they would be up shit creek without a paddle.

This is why I cheer companies like Uber and Lyft in their efforts to fix the taxi system in this country. This is why I cheer for better mass transit. And this is why I cheer for autonomous cars even as I recognize that one day the prevelence AV’s may threaten my access to driving in public. I am hardly like some former writers on sister sites who call for banning cars, but I think the country would be better if the only people driving were those who want to drive; not because they have to drive wether they like it or not.

*I know I am a total hypocrite when I say I support restricting drivers who are too young from driving even if they technically could pass all mental, physiological, and testing requirements. But driving does demand a certain maturity and I am happy with the current driving age of 16-18, depending on jurisdiction.