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Irv Gordon crosses 3 million miles in his Volvo P1800

Volvo enthusiast has driven nearly every road in the U.S. in his original, 47-year-old Swedish coupe.

By Clifford Atiyeh Sep 18, 2013 6:29AM

For the sake of nothing but himself and an old red Volvo, Irv Gordon has driven more miles in a single-owner car than anyone on earth. As of Tuesday, he just hit 3 million.

Gordon, a retired science teacher from Long Island, N.Y., has been in the news for the past 30 years, simply for his obsessive passion for driving and sightseeing -- and for doing it all in one of the prettiest Volvos ever made, a 1966 P1800 coupe.

On Tuesday, his odometer -- still five digits, and meticulously noted at each rollover -- passed 3 million on a stretch of Alaska Highway 1. Even at age 74, Gordon has managed to average nearly 64,000 miles a year since he purchased the P1800 new in 1966 (imagine the dealer's surprise when he returned three days later for his 1,500-mile service).

Gordon has driven nearly every single road in the U.S., while having to rebuild his engine only twice. Needless to say, he never misses an oil change. While he worked as a teacher, his 125-mile round-trip commute was a mere walk in the park.

 

Pictures of the newest Volvo concept car

 

“It’s not about getting to the 3 million miles; it’s about the trips that got me to the 3 million miles,” Gordon said to Volvo. “I never had a goal to get to 1 million, to 2 million. I just enjoyed driving and experiencing life through my Volvo.”



Even though Volvo has capitalized on Gordon's mileage in advertising campaigns, Gordon is less keen for publicity stunts than his love for American roads. One sign of proof: He doesn't have air conditioning.

"The best way to explore America is by car," he said. "I challenge everyone to go out and see as much as possible. Find your own journey and reason to believe because you only have one life to live."


In 1987, he hit 1 million miles in New York's Central Park and reached 2 million in 2002 while driving through Times Square. In 1998, he first made the Guinness Book of World Records for the most miles driven by one car owner in a non-commercial vehicle.  Gordon says that he probably won't make the next million, but that the car should have no trouble.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Gordon's Volvo had a modified seven-digit odometer. The odometer is stock and five digits.


[Source: Volvo]
245Comments
Sep 18, 2013 7:51AM
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Wow. I love this story. 
Take care of your cars, change the oil, enjoy the ride. 
Very cool. (except on hot summer days with no a/c!)
Sep 18, 2013 7:57AM
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Classic cars and backside roads give the most flavor to the life.

Sep 18, 2013 8:08AM
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Back in 1978 a friend of mine noticed an old p1800 buried under junk in this old garage on the side of a giant old house in the rich part of the town we lived in.  We were poor kids, and liked fixing anything we could get our hands on.  He cut a deal to clean out the garage of the junk and all and a few other things and he could have the old car.  Seems he had bought it for his daughter to go to college with a dozen years earlier but she didn't like it, so just parked it, and it sat.  He talked me into helping him clean out the garage and get the old car going, and somehow after a couple weeks we did, and zoomed it around the neighborhood a few times.  When he went back to collect when the dude got home, he was impressed it was running, and at the old garage being cleaned and all the other stuff, told my friend he changed his mind and handed him $10.  I wont say what our coming from the other side of the tracks revenge was.  It was a cool little car.  Dusty, but cool.
Sep 18, 2013 9:30AM
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I have owned a 1969 Volvo P-1800 (Cherry red, just like Irv's since March 1969. In the course of military transfers I have also driven it in all 50 states, Mexico, Cuba (Guantanamo), 7 (of ten) Canadian Provinces. Unlike Irv's it has a paltry half-million on it and is only 44 years old, so I haven't had a major repair or overhaul yet (just regular oil change, tires, muffler, etc. and re-paint and some lower body work after years of salt air and salty road exposure. I'm 80 now, so I know the car will long outlast me. It is a joy to drive, even for a 10-12 hour stint.

Captain Jack
Sep 18, 2013 8:06AM
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This motivates me to go way beyond 250,000 miles on my red, 2001 Honda Civic.
Sep 18, 2013 8:12AM
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I saw this car at Carlisle once. He is having fun with it.
Sep 18, 2013 8:20AM
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I have a Volvo S60. I expect it to last as long as I want  to keep it. I have no worries about longevity and reliability based on past experience. 250,000 miles is nothing for a Volvo.
Sep 18, 2013 8:24AM
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Great story but many older American cars from the sixties could go that long with enough rebuilds and replacing parts.They still run American cars from the 50's down in Cuba and Mexico.I bet a lot of old Mercedes diesels have gone that long as well.

Sep 18, 2013 8:09AM
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Wow.  I have an S90 1998 that I bought in 2000.  Still going strong. 

 

Sep 18, 2013 8:27AM
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 I have always liked the P1800! It was the car to the "Saint" as the Aston DB5 was to "Bond"!

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