1. Headline
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Image: Margaret Dunning
Mike Cardew  /  Akron Beacon Journal
“I love the old cars,” said Margaret Dunning, 102, who bought her 1930 Packard 740 Roadster back in 1949. “I love the smell of gasoline. It runs in my veins.”
By
TODAY contributor
updated 9/19/2012 11:49:00 AM ET 2012-09-19T15:49:00

Pop math quiz: If you cherished and maintained the same car for 63 years and you changed your own oil every 3,000 miles, how much money would you save?

Answer: A lot.

Just ask Margaret Dunning, a 102-year-old Michigan woman who’s been making headlines after her energetic appearance at a classic car show in Canton, Ohio, over the weekend. Dunning attended the show with her baby: a 1930 Packard 740 Roadster that she purchased in 1949 and restored to mint condition. She talked happily about how she’s been changing her own oil and spark plugs all these years.

“I love the old cars,” Dunning told The Akron Beacon Journal. “I love the smell of gasoline. It runs in my veins.”

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Slideshow: Aging across America: Vigorous, vital and full of life (on this page)

Dunning grew up on a dairy and potato farm west of Detroit, not too far from where Henry Ford’s family lived. When she wasn’t clambering onto her Packard’s running board to pose for photos, the longtime car enthusiast waxed nostalgic at the car show about how she learned to drive on her family’s farm at age 8, crashed into the barn at age 10, and secured her first driver’s license at age 12.

That’s right: Dunning has been driving for 90 years now.

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Image: Margaret Dunning with her 1930 Packard car
Mike Cardew  /  Akron Beacon Journal
Margaret Dunning said she still drives her Packard, but its large steering wheel has become a bit difficult for her to turn. Most days she drives a 2003 Cadillac instead.

In his piece about Dunning, Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer described her as a “hoot” and as “witty, engaging and razor sharp.” At one point, she joked with Dyer about having “lead in my feet” — a reference to all the speeding tickets she’s gotten over the years.

“It disturbs the policemen very badly, but it doesn’t bother me at all,” Dunning said.

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Dunning had to drop out of the University of Michigan during the Great Depression, but she went on to pursue successful careers in the banking and retail sectors. The millionaire never married.

“I’ve had a very interesting life in this old world,” she said. “Each year I see more beauty in the things that I observe.”

To read the full original report about Margaret Dunning and see a photo gallery of Dunning with her Packard, visit The Akron Beacon Journal’s website by clicking here.

Need a Coffey break? Friend TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Facebook, follow her on Twitter  or read more of her stories at LauraTCoffey.com.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Aging across America: Vigorous, vital and full of life

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  1. Racing onward

    Aging ain’t necessarily what it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Dr. Jeffrey Levine, a New York-based geriatric specialist and professional photographer who has spent the past two decades documenting what he describes as “the biggest demographic transformation in human history”: a time when more people than ever are reaching very old ages. Levine's “Aging Across America” photography exhibit is on display at the National Arts Club in New York City through Sept. 21.

    Levine captured this photo at an “over 70” running race on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 2010. Several of the runners pictured here are more than 90 years old. Levine described the woman wearing the No. 337 bib as a “geriatric super athlete” who, at the age of 90, climbed 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building in just 22 minutes. (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Doing swimmingly

    Levine described Edith McAllister, pictured here, as one of the most amazing people he's ever met. “She loves swimming and water-skied into her 90s," he said. “I photographed her in her daily exercise at the pool.” (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Jamming for decades

    “I like to challenge stereotypes and show how people can thrive both physically and spiritually as they journey into old age,” said Levine, who took this photo of saxophone player and pennywhistle soloist Les Lieber in 2010. For nearly 50 years, Lieber performed every Friday at the Jazz at Noon jam sessions he founded in New York. He was in his 90s when Levine photographed him. (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Laughter is great medicine

    “Gladys and Elaine are friends since high school,” Levine said. “Every Sunday they meet at a coffee shop in South Harbor, Maine and catch up on gossip.” (Copyright 2009, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Hip and happy

    After spending her life working as a makeup artist, this woman started working in a costume shop in Las Vegas, where Levine met up with her in 2010. “I was impressed by the way she did her eyes, so I took her picture,” Levine said. (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fire in the belly

    Gibsonton, Fla., is known as the wintering grounds for circus workers, many of whom are growing old. Levine traveled to Gibsonton and captured this photo of a circus performer known as Mr. Poobah, who has spent his career performing a fire-eating act. Levine noted that he “has few hairs left on his face.” (Copyright 2009, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Focused and calm

    Levine took this photo at a tai chi class at a senior center in Queens, N.Y., that is popular with Asian-Americans. “Abe, the teacher, was a patient of mine who invited me to visit,” Levine said. (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Just married

    Ralph and Dick, pictured here, had been together for more than 40 years before they legally wed in New York state. “I photographed them in their backyard in upstate New York,” Levine said. (Copyright 2012, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Granny Peace Brigade

    The Raging Grannies is an international group of activists who use street theater, humor, satire and props as they demonstrate about issues tied to social justice. Levine photographed them marching in New York's Times Square in 2010. (Copyright 2010, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Proud and strong

    J.T. Freeman, left, is one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators who served in the United States armed forces during World War II. Pictured with him is an admiring friend who served in the Marines in Vietnam. (Copyright 2009, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Meet the Hub Club

    In California’s Bay Area, the city of Fremont is home to a large population of Indian and Pakistani immigrants. “A group of elders meets every Saturday at a shopping mall called the Fremont Hub, and call themselves the Hub Club,” Levine said. (Copyright 2011, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A rich ancestry

    Brandon Williams is a Native American from the Navajo tribe who paints visions of his ancestors. He is pictured here with his painting of his great-grandfather, Standing Horse. Levine photographed Williams at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico in 2012. (Copyright 2012, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Roaring engines

    These days, it’s quite common to see die-hard bikers in their 70s and 80s at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. “Hope, passion and something to look forward to – including next year’s Sturgis – is something that keeps people alive,” Levine noted. (Copyright 2011, Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A love of medicine and art

    As a doctor specializing in geriatric medicine, Levine sees patients at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and serves on the faculty at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He’s also traveled the world over documenting aging in various cultures. “As a geriatrician I am aware of our common human destiny of growing old and the need for a view of aging that inspires and teaches,” Levine said.

    To see more images from Levine’s “Aging Across America” portfolio and other photography projects, click here. To learn more about his New York exhibit, click here. (Courtesy Jeffrey M. Levine) Back to slideshow navigation
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