Centenarian from Flossmoor still in auto mode
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org September 30, 2013 10:52PM
Updated: November 2, 2013 6:16AM
When Sylvia Levin pulled into Mercedes-Benz of Orland Park on Monday afternoon, there was not only a bow on the top of her new car, but balloons, flowers, a cake and presents waiting for her in the dealership’s showroom.
Owner Dave Nocera said he only does this when customers turn 100. Levin did back on July 12, but her lease wasn’t up until Monday, and she was coming in to trade in her 2012 C300 for a new one.
“I passed my driver’s test. I am so proud,” the tiny Flossmoor resident told Nocera when she entered the showroom.
Levin has leased a new Mercedes every other year for the past several years, always telling Nocera, “This is my last car.”
“She’s been saying that for the past six to eight years,” Nocera said. “She’s a great lady, a spunky lady.”
Her 2012 pearl beige Mercedes C300 with 6,800 miles “is really a cream puff, and it was driven by a little old lady,” she said.
It already has a buyer.
She left in the 2014 model in a new color — cuprite brown.
“It’s very pretty,” she said as she checked it out.
But Levin was more thrilled by the surprise birthday party than the new Mercedes.
“Oh, my goodness! I’m so impressed. A cake and flowers! Oh, my goodness,” she said in a tiny voice.
“Isn’t this terrific? I’m so thrilled. I never dreamed of anything like this,” Levin said as she cut the cake and opened her presents — a purse made out of Mercedes seat belts, and a box of Godiva chocolates. “I can’t thank you enough. You spoil me. I will never forget this.”
She also spoils her friends at the dealership, as she handed saleswoman Joy Karas a bag of her freshly baked bran muffins.
“She is pretty special. She is absolutely phenomenal,” Karas said. “I have been selling cars for 30 years, and this is my first 100-year-old driver. She is very safe, very conscientious. I hope I can get her a car on her 102nd birthday.”
Levin said she doesn’t drive long distances but would drive three times a week from Flossmoor to Munster to visit her sister, until she died this summer.
“My hands don’t shake and I can see very well,” she said. “I have never had an accident.”
Levin said she drives more in Florida, where she lives during the winter months. Her car will be shipped down there, while she flies.
Her home in Naples is “miles and miles” from the nearest grocery store, she said.
“I wish Florida would make older people take a driver’s test every year (like Illinois). All they have to do is send in their money,” Levin said. “It’s scary driving down there.”