Florida Woman’s 1964 Mercury Hits 576,000 Miles – That’s a Lot of Spark Plugs!

Rachel Veitch in her beloved "chariot," a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente that just hit 576,000 miles. Copyright Rachel Veitch.

They say the average lifespan of a daily-used car tops out at about 150,000 miles but can hit upwards of 200,000 if its owner really minds the maintenance. Judging by those figures, we here at E3 Spark Plugs think 93-year-old Rachel Veitch, whose 1964 Mercury recently hit 576,000 miles, just might be the best car owner ever.

The last time Veitch bought a car, gas cost 39 cents a gallon, Lyndon B. Johnson was POTUS, My Fair Lady swept the Oscars and The Little Old Lady from Pasadena was tearing up the airwaves. It was 1964 when she fell for a cream colored Mercury Comet Caliente that she quickly dubbed her “chariot.”

Apparently, Veitch was nothing like that little old lady:

And everybody’s saying that there’s nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Pasadena
She drives real fast and she drives real hard
She’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard…

Well, she’s gonna get a ticket now sooner or later
‘Cause she can’t keep her foot off the accelerator…

The guys come to race her from miles around
But she’ll give ‘em a length then she’ll shut ‘em down

Rachel Veitch bought her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente for $3,289. Today, it's valued at $12,000.

First, Veitch was only 29 when she bought her ’64 Mercury, so she wasn’t a grandmother yet. Plus, we’re guessing Granny’s shiny red Super Stock Dodge didn’t last long, what with all the drag racing and the roadway terrorizing. And while we haven’t met her in person, Veitch seems quite the congenial lady. Her chariot no doubt would say so if steel and wheels could talk. After all, it has served her dutifully for half a century and well over half a million miles. And it’s still going strong.

“I’ve never been a destructive person and I’ve just taken care of everything,” says Veitch. “Except my husbands.” (That’s a whole ‘nother blog.)

Originally bought for $3,289, Veitch’s Mercury today is valued at $12,000. It’s seen 18 batteries, eight mufflers and God only knows how many oil changes and car spark plugs. She’s only parking it now because macular degeneration (age-related loss of vision) has made it unsafe for her to drive. Her beloved chariot next will make an appearance at an antique car show in Wisconsin and Veitch is considering calling up her friend Jay Leno to see if he’s interested in buying it. She appeared on Leno’s The Tonight Show in 2010 and he called her the “Car Lady”. But one thing’s for sure – the chariot won’t stay in the family. When asked if any of her four children, nine grandchildren or 11 great-grandchildren have expressed interest, she snapped back, “It wouldn’t matter if they did, they’re not going to get it. They couldn’t take care of it like I did.”

Perhaps there’s a little bit of Granny in Veitch after all.


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