Windsor

Celebrating his 100th birthday with a new car

Earl Wilson just turned 100 years old and got himself a new car. Wilson still drivers on highways even takes trips to Detroit. The Ford dealership promised him a free car on his 110th birthday.

Earl Wilson recently turned 100 and promptly traded in his 2017 Ford Escape for a newer model

Earl Wilson is still driving at 100. He says he like being able to go wherever he wants. 0:36

Earl Wilson drove himself to a Ford dealership in Windsor to pick up his new 2019 Escape with many of his family in tow.

The centenarian worked at Ford for 35 years and keeps buying company-made cars. He said he likes the freedom he gets from driving, often visiting his family in Chatham — seven daughters and 100 grandchildren.

Wilson said he's a "top driver" but has had a speeding ticket or two in his life. But he wasn't getting speeding tickets with the first car he drove, a Model T.

"The old Model T Ford that was something else," he said. "You had to crank it in the front you know. If you couldn't get it started that way jack up the back wheel turn the back wheel to get it to started."

He likes to be on the road. A few years ago he took a road trip with a friend to Nova Scotia — he also said he likes to go to Detroit. His oldest daughter, Vernetta Riley makes sure to check in with her dad to ensure he gets home safely.

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"We try to keep track of him but it's hard because he likes to get out and go," she said.

At 100, Wilson needs to get his driver's licence tested every two years. His daughter said he always calls her before going.

"I have to hear it every couple of years when it comes time to test. 'I don't know if I'm going to pass.' I say 'Oh you will. Yes you will.' Sure enough he'll go down and write it and whatever they do, passes every time," Riley said.

Wilson is one of a few drivers his age one the road. The most recent data from the Ministry of Transportation is from 2017. It said in Ontario, there are 152 divers over the age of 100. For those over 80, there 320,665 drivers in our province.

According to the ministry's web site said the renewal session consists of:

  • A vision test.
  • A 45-minute interactive group education session about new traffic laws, how aging affects driving, trips for older driver and road signs.
  • Complete an in-class screening exercise.
  • Undergo a driving record review. 

After this session drivers may have to pass a road test and follow up with a physician to submit medical information.

Drivers of 80 in Ontario have to be assessed every two years to keep their licence. 0:29

Before Wilson was able to drive his new SUV off the lots, the owner of Performance Ford, Terry Rafih joked that Edsel Ford should have present him with a free car. Then made him a promise.

"We'll do that for the 110th birthday. 110, you get a free one," he said. "A Ford Escape, maybe a Mustang."

Wilson likes the idea, but said "I'm too old for a hot rod."

About the Author

Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC Windsor. Email her at Stacey.Janzer@cbc.ca.