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Heidi Hetzer, who decided one day to drive around the world, dies at 81

Heidi Hetzer, who decided one day to drive around the world, dies at 81
Heidi Hetzer in Berlin in 2014. (Britta Pedersen / Associated Press)

Heidi Hetzer, the German businesswoman whose late-in-life decision to drive around the world in an American vintage car won her fans around the world, has died at her home in Berlin.

Hetzer's family said Tuesday she died at her home in the German capital over the weekend; the cause of death is unclear, the Associated Press reported. She was 81.

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A trained mechanic who once lost a finger repairing an engine, Hetzer took over the family car business in 1969, turning it into one of Berlin's biggest.

Having taken part in various car rallies for decades and driven from Germany to China in 2007, Hetzer decided to take her 1930s Hudson Greater Eight on a world tour in 2014.

Hetzer, who documented her journey on Instagram, received a hero's welcome at the Brandenburg Gate when she returned to Berlin in 2017.

Her trip took her through Eastern Europe, across China and then to Australia. After reaching New Zealand, she and her car were transferred to the Americas, where she drove across Canada and then headed south through the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. She then sailed to Africa and finally back home.

Heidi Hetzer starts her world tour in Berlin
Heidi Hetzer starts her world tour in Berlin (Michael Hanschke / Associated Press)
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