Margaret Dunning started driving when she was eight. Thanks to some fortunate family connections, she got her driver's license when she was 12. For those of you whose understanding was that there'd be no math involved, she's been driving 94 years, legally for 90.
Margaret first learned to drive on her parents' dairy farm, where she acted as the tool-fetching system for her father, a job that gave her a good familiarity with tools, machines, and wrenching in general. A remarkably successful and self-made woman, Dunning started working in a factory building voltage regulators, later became a bank teller, and later buying a clothing store in 1947, which she grew into a department store that she sold in 1968.
She was extremely generous to her home town of Plymouth, Michigan, donating money for the historical society's museum, and later a cool million to house a collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia.
Dunning never married, technically, but if you look at her relationship with her beautiful 1930 Packard 740 Roadster, which she's had since 1949, it's clear she's not without a life partner. The car, which has won awards at the Concours D'Elegance (among others), is in remarkably stellar condition. And, like a true Jalop, it gets driven. Any owner of a trailer-queen 1980s Mustang or Camaro or something under the age of 103 should be feeling intense pangs of shame right about now.
There doesn't seem to be a record of who, exactly, has had a drivers license the longest, but, screw it, I'm calling it here, officially: Margaret Dunning has been driving— legally and otherwise— for longer than any other person on the planet. I think this is a pretty safe bet, looking at the math. Her time legally driving is longer than the average lifespan of any country in the world. She's 102, still driving, and started driving at 8. If anyone can beat 94 (driving)/90 (legal) years of driving, I'm all ears.
I suspect also she may be the oldest living Jalop, and, in case it's not abundantly clear, she's awesome. I hope I can still drive half as well when I'm 80, if I can get there. Even in my most wildly optimistic projections, my years from 85 and up are likely as a brain in a jar.