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US woman forced to retire car after 576k miles on road

April 4, 2012 - Washington

A 93-year-old Florida woman, who has driven a total of 576,000 miles in the same 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente, has been forced to give up driving due to age-related macular degeneration in both eyes.

Rachel Veitch had to abandon her beloved 'Chariot' as she realised in early March that her vision had completely failed her after running a "bald-faced red light".

"I am legally blind, so I can no longer drive my lovely Chariot," she told Fox News.

"They don't have to take it away, I would not dream of driving that car again," she added.

Veitch, a retired nurse who had revealed in July 2009 that the car had outlasted three marriages and three sets of shocks, said she last drove on March 9.

The following day, her worst fears were confirmed when she couldn't read large headlines in the newspaper, the result of years of deteriorating vision for the near-obsessive car fanatic.

"I know I'm not safe enough to drive... But I have taken it in stride," she said.

Veitch bought her beloved ride for 3,289 dollars in February 1964 from a dealer. The car, which has been appraised at 12,000 dollars, has gone through 18 batteries, eight mufflers and countless oil changes. She credits her near-obsessive dedication to the car as the main reason why it's spent nearly half a century in her care.

In July, the classic car will travel to Wisconsin to appear in an antique car show, but it's unclear what will happen to it after that trip. Veitch, who appeared on 'The Tonight Show' in August 2010, said she might consider selling it to host and classic car aficionado Jay Leno if he wants it.

"I haven't talked to Jay Leno yet, but I'm wondering if he's interested... But I don't think I should start talking about it now," she said.

The car saw its lone wreck in 1980, when it endured a rear-end collision while Veitch, who was not injured, drove along I-95 in Georgia.

With nearly 600,000 miles behind her, Veitch, who will turn 94 in August, said she's taking the end of her time with 'Chariot' in stride.

"A lot of people are worse off than I am... I don't have cancer, I don't have Lou Gehrig's disease. I am lucky," she said.


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