557,000 Miles and Counting (She's 90; Her Car's 45; Both Are Still On The Road)

At 90 years old, this Depression-era great-grandmother from Orlando, Fla., has a lesson for all of us about surviving in a tough economy. Shes still driving her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente. Price back then: $3,289. Thats less than the $4,500 the government gives to trash a car today in the cash for clunkers program. She jokes her car has been oh-so-faithful. She's better than three husbands," Veitch said. Shes never lied to me, shes never cheated on me, and I can always depend on her. But with nearly 600,000 miles on the odometer, the real story is in those lifetime warranties. She paid Midas $42.23 for a lifetime muffler. Such a deal! Midas has replaced her muffler seven times. Ditto with JCPenney and her battery: Shes had 17 batteries replaced. Even though JCPenney no longer has an automotive department, they still make arrangements to honor her contract. Then theres Sears and the shock absorbers. Sears has replaced her shocks three times. Three cheers for Rachel, who has collected for all Americans who bought extended warranties but for some loophole reason, never collected. As I sat with Rachel in her living room, teapot on a doily, I felt I could be with anyones grandmother in America. But when we hopped behind the wheel of her baby, the car she nicknamed Chariot so long ago, her bright eyes and tight grip confirmed Rachel, like her car, is an American original. She picked up her 1970s-era CB radio, flipped over to channel 19 and asked, Is anyone out there? Static. No answer. Without missing a beat, she joked, I guess theyre all dead. If there was ever a person who loves to kid around, loves cars, and is as quick as a rabbit start in a Mercury with a 260 V8, its Rachel. Shes pushed her car up to 120 miles per hour. The speedometer quits at 120, so I could have been going faster, she said. Rachel, a retired nurse, enjoys showing off her car to auto enthusiasts. Her goal (yes, folks in their 90s still have goals) is to one day go toe-to-toe with another funny, car-loving American: Jay Leno. As they used to say in the old radio days: Stay tuned. This video: © Copyright 2009 NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved No COPYRIGHT infringement is intended

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