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Motor Mouth articles 2012

End of the road for Rachel and her car

Rachel Veitch has finally hung up the keys of her car after 48 years

THINKING of buying a used car? There’s one coming up for sale in Florida this summer that may fit the bill.

It’s a 1964 model Mercury Comet Caliente, it has had one lady owner since it left the showroom and it’s travelled well over half-a-million miles.

And the reason it’s going to be sold is that its proud owner, 93-year-old Rachel Veitch, has had to give up driving because her eyesight has gone.

She bought the Comet 48 years ago for $3,289 and has chalked up a very grand total of 576,000 miles. It has outlasted three marriages and 18 battery changes.

Her family – four children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren – are not going to get the precious car. “They couldn’t take care of it like I have,” she says.

A couple of years ago she told Fox News: “Whenever I buy gas, I write down the mileage, the date and how many miles per gallon I got. I’ve just taken care of everything, except my husbands.”

The Comet has got through eight silencers and three sets of shock absorbers during its half-century on the highways and byways of America’s Sunshine State, and survived a rear-end collision in 1980.

It is due to appear in an antique car show in Wisconsin in July, after which Mrs Veitch says she’ll probably sell it. It is reckoned to be worth about $12,000 now.

The former nurse, who lives in Orlando, says she is adjusting well to life without her car. “I know I’m not safe enough to drive, but I have taken it in my stride,” she says. “A lot of people are worse off than I am.”

Her trusty car may have clocked more miles than a round trip to the moon but it still comes a long way short of the world record. One Irv Gordon set that in 1998 when he chalked up 1.69 million miles in his 1966 Volvo P1800. It is reported that the combination is now approaching three million miles.

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