It’s a funny thing about Irv Gordon. He never set out to set a world’s record, appear on multiple TV shows, become famous and travel the world. He just liked driving his Volvo. A lot. So much so that his record of 2.8 million miles and counting has been certified by The Guinness Book of World’s Records as the highest miles ever acrued on a single car. Gordon’s 70 years old and hopes to pile on 200,000 more miles in the next three years, ” “Three million miles by my 73rd birthday sounds right,” he says.
Gordon’s P1800 is not a stunt car that’s been totally rebuilt several times. It’s really the same car the New York history teacher bought new in 1966 after carefully researching the market and test driving it for four hours. Same engine, transmission, body, etc.–and this is a car that’s spent its entire life outdoors without a garage or even a car cover, parked just a couple blocks from the ocean’s corrosive sea air in New York, an area notoriously brutal on cars.
Gordon commuted for 35 years on the Long Island Expressway. He drives his Volvo 1800 in summer and winter, in good weather and bad. It’s never broken down and left him stranded. His secrets? Maintenance. Follow the owner’s manual recommendations. Drive gently. Respect the car. Keep it clean, inside outside and underneath.
Volvo gave Gordon a new car at the million mile mark and another at the two million mile mark. He’s invited to the S.E.M.A. show each year in Las Vegas and drives the Volvo there. He’s traveled with his car to five European countries, all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Australia–paid for by organizations eager to show the Volvo. He’s met thousands of people he otherwise wouldn’t have and many have become long term friends. Gordon and his wife have divorced, he says, “but my car seems to still love me.”
Irv Gordon sums up the impact owning his classic Volvo has had on his life best, “The car has given me a new meaning to the word “retirement.” If I were to sell the car, I would not get invited to anything fun or anyplace interesting any longer. No one would want to see me. After all, the car does all the work and I just go along for the ride.”
For more info please see the slide show and links below:
My dad’s cars: A father’s day tribute
Classic Volvo P1800-ES design shows up in new C-70
Classic Auto Examiner Archive
TECH DETAILS OF HIS ROUTINE BY IRV GORDON
The engine gets regular oil changes and a new Volvo oil filter … every 3,000-3,500 miles. Clean oil seems to be the key to longevity and is a lot cheaper than an engine replacement. I have made it a point to be meticulous about such things since the car was new. The points get replaced every 20-25,000 miles along with the spark plugs. Fuel filters and air filters are replaced as necessary as are belts and hoses. Replacing the fuel pump (mechanical) every million miles or so is no big deal … nor is rebushing the carburetor (two SU’s) throttle bushings every 900,000 miles or so. I change the (manual) transmission fluid every 25,000 miles (as per the owner’s manual) and use multi-weight gear oil. The engine was only apart once … for a complete rebuild at my insistence when it had 680,000 miles.