Viper owner Linda Palmer is still going strong at 70 years young.
Age is just a number to Linda Palmer of Crossville, Tennessee. At 70 years young, not only does she own a Viper, but she also is a full-time truck driver. Yes, you read that right. When she is not behind the wheel of her red 2006 Viper, she takes the reigns of an 18-wheeler, having logged well over a million miles in the last 18 years.
Palmer, who owned a Plymouth Prowler which drew her to the Viper thanks to the similarities between the two vehicles, has long had an affinity for sports cars. She has owned several over the years, including: BMWs, Corvettes, Jaguars and Porsches among others. In fact, her first car at the age of 16 was a Corvette.
"I always had sports cars, but when I drove the Viper for the first time I realized that I had never really had a sports car. The Viper is everything you expect from a sports car. I tell people that have (other brands) they have never lived until they get out of those and into a Viper. I really know a lot about the different sports cars and the Viper is just absolutely amazing."
Palmer purchased her Viper with 200 original miles on it in 2007 at Ringgold Chrysler Dodge Jeep® in Ringgold, Georgia, and has since put 14,000 miles on the car. When she was leaving the lot on the day she bought the Viper, the salespeople called her back over to let her know that if she went to the track and got up to 80 miles per hour she would have to shift into sixth gear. She chuckled and told them that she didn't plan to drive the car that fast, and to this day she has never crossed the 70 mph threshold in the Viper.
"I love the sound of the engine and the mufflers and you can't hear that when you get out on the freeway and are going fast," explained Palmer. "The salespeople were all laughing that I would never go 80 miles per hour in it, but it's the sound of the car that I enjoy the most. I don't drive my car fast. I drive it just like a normal car."
Palmer worked in a beauty parlor as a teenager to earn the money to buy her first car, and subsequently went on a cross-country trip after graduating high school at the age of 18, all because she loved to drive. She hit the road in Mobile, Alabama, and leisurely journeyed to California, just for the sheer pleasure of being behind the wheel. Later in life she moved to Las Vegas where she owned and operated a very successful furniture/carpet store for about a quarter of a century.
After the passing of her husband, she headed back to the southeast and landed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she planned to take design courses at a local community college, but then saw that a truck driving course was being offered and instantly she knew that was what she wanted to pursue. Despite being 52 years-old at the time, Palmer earned her CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and became a professional truck driver. Fast forward 18 years and she is still racking up the miles, all thanks to her love for driving and being on the open road.
"People are usually shocked when they see me get out of the Viper or the 18-wheeler for that matter. I once was sitting at a stoplight in the Viper and a Camaro came up next to me and it had a real young kid in it, maybe 22 or 23 years-old. I had the top down and he's revving up the engine and he puts down the window and says, 'Hey lady, let's see what that Viper will do.' I happened to have just read an article in an automotive magazine and I picked up the magazine and said, 'No, because this magazine says that I can beat you.' He said, 'What?' and then he took off."
After completing long hauls from coast-to-coast in her semi, Palmer is known to arrive back home and immediately hop in her Viper, which she keeps in storage while she's on the road. The Tennessean is especially proud of her immaculate professional driving record, which has seen her rack up over a million-and-a-half miles in her 18-wheeler without a single ticket or accident. She credits that for her still being employed in the truck industry at 70.
The same perfect driving record applies to her Viper as well, though while driving the car, she is often pulled over by the police and even the state patrol. Palmer chuckles when sharing how the conversation usually goes, which she says is about the same each time. The officer will ask how fast the car goes and she'll tell them 70. Then they will ask again, assuring her that she was not speeding and they are not going to give her a ticket. She repeats that the car goes 70 and that is the fastest she has ever driven it, which usually surprises the officer.
"Driving the Viper is a thrill," said Palmer. "Every single time I drive it is like the first time I ever drove it. I don't care how busy I am or how much of a hurry I am in, I always take time to talk to people that are interested in the Viper, especially when they are a younger person. They'll often say that this is their dream car and everybody always kind of says the same thing that they have seen pictures of a Viper, but never actually seen one in person. The Viper brings so many smiles to so many people. I just love it."
The Viper has left an indelible mark on Palmer and her life. Thanks to the Viper, she has met countless people who she never would have run across and she is able to share her love and passion for the car with them. When she is driving her Viper, she gets a feeling that is unmatched by anything she has ever experienced in her life.
"I have never driven any car that I would say is the ultimate driving machine, other than the Viper," said Palmer. "First of all it's beautiful. This car is absolutely gorgeous. It hasn't changed all that much, so people don't know if it's five years-old or 10 years-old for that matter. They don't know the age of the car by just looking at it. How many cars can you drive that are like that? It always looks like you just drove it off the showroom floor if you take care of it properly. The look of the car is just gorgeous."
Palmer doesn't see herself parking the Viper anytime soon, though she is currently entertaining thoughts of the brand-new 2013 SRT® Viper. Of the 14,000 miles she has put on her Viper over the last five years, Palmer has just as many memories that the car has brought to her and she looks forward to countless more good times with her Viper.
"People don't like to put the miles on their car, but at 70 years-old, I don't think I should worry about depreciation," said Palmer with a smile. "I've had so much joy and pleasure with this car. You can't put a price tag on something that makes you feel so great and that you look forward to."