Ngataki, New Zealand (AP) — Bob Edwards was born before the first Model T rolled out of Henry Ford’s factory in Detroit. He learned to drive in a French car that had a lever instead of a steering wheel. And he’s still on the road, only now in a red four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi.
The oldest licensed driver in New Zealand, and one of the oldest in the world, has been driving for 88 of his 105 years and has no plans to give it up, just as he intends to keep working out every morning in his home gym, and to keep regularly cooking meals for himself and his wife, who’s 91.
“In fact, I don’t think I’m old,” Edwards says. “Not really.”
He’s been involved in just one crash in his life and has gotten just one speeding ticket, a citation that still gets him riled up years later.
When he broke his left hip three years ago, his doctors said to stop driving for six weeks but he didn’t pay them much mind. After all, he says, he drives an automatic and only needs his right leg for that.
In New Zealand, drivers older than 80 must have their health and vision tested every two years to stay on the road.
According to Guinness World Records, the world’s oldest driver was American Fred Hale Sr. who was on the road until his 108th birthday in 1998.
Edwards drives three times a week to the store 15 kilometers (9 miles) down the road. He picks up groceries on Sundays and the newspapers on other days. Occasionally, he says, he’ll drive farther afield, to a medical appointment or to visit friends.
For much of the rest of his working life, he captained tourist and car ferries, fibbing about his age so he could work beyond what was then the mandatory retirement age of 60.
His wife, Lesley, stopped driving about 30 years ago. Her husband always took the wheel, anyway, and he will stay with it as long as he can.
“As far as I’m concerned, driving is a part of me,” he says. “I mean, that was me. I was a driver. And I could drive anything. Anything at all.”