Irv's Volvo P1800 Rolls for 40 Years


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Irv Gordon, Driver of His Record-Breaking, 2.5 Million Mile Volvo P1800, Marks the 40 Year Anniversary of His Purchase

LONG ISLAND, N.Y., June 20 -- Forty years ago this June 30, the Beatles were completing their "Revolver" album. Mike Tyson was born in Brooklyn. Los Angeles Dodger Sandy Koufax was halfway through pitching his final and finest season.

And Irv Gordon was in a neighborhood Volvo dealership purchasing a cherry red Volvo P1800 for $4,150, replacing a new car he had recently purchased from another manufacturer that broke down on his drive home from the dealership.

"It was far and away the best $4,150 I've ever spent," said Gordon, a Long Island native and resident who has since driven the car almost 2.5 million miles, a world record.

Gordon, who today is a 64-year-old retired science teacher, began racking up the miles almost immediately. He drove the car for the same reasons most people do: to drive back and forth to work (a 125-mile daily round-trip to his job), for fun and for everyday activities. His long commute and his passion for driving caused him to log his first 250,000 miles in less than five years. The engine never failed and the car never required extensive repairs. Gordon lived two blocks from the ocean and drove through salt and snow each winter, but the body never rusted. So he kept driving his car.

Gordon hit 500,000 miles in the late '70s. He celebrated his one-millionth mile in 1987, driving a loop around the Tavern on the Green in New York's Central Park. He retired nine years later and took a part-time job for five years as a quality control technician and service writer at a Volvo dealership. With more time on his hands, he made driving his pastime.

In the mid '90s, The Guinness Book of World Records certified his Volvo for most miles driven by a single owner in a non-commercial vehicle. In March 2002 at a star-studded celebration fitting for New York, he turned his 2 millionth mile driving through Times Square.

Gordon would drive to Cincinnati for coffee, to Denver for lunch, or to Montreal for dinner. He'd drive to Volvo dealerships and car clubs to meet other Volvo lovers. He drove to Mexico. He put his car on a barge and sent it to Europe. He drove to Holland. He drove to Germany. While in Sweden, he drove to Volvo's headquarters to see where his P1800 was born.

He drove through big cities at night and spent afternoons in small town coffee shops. He made friends throughout the nation. He became an icon for resiliency and passion for the road. He met Matt Lauer. He hung out with Jon Stewart. He talked cars with Jay Leno.

And, 40 years after Gordon took the keys, the car has the same engine, same radio, same axles, same transmission and of course, the same driver. He is the only person who has ever driven his P1800.

"If you would have told me 40 years ago I'd still be driving this beautiful car, and that I would have driven these many miles, I would have told you 'good,'" Gordon said. "For one thing, the car just felt right from the beginning. And, what a beautiful country this is; I'm so glad I've had the time and opportunity to take so much of it in."

Gordon plans to mark his car's 40th birthday doing pretty much what he's done with the car every day the past 40 years.

"I'm going to drive down to my favorite coffee shop, have a decaf and chat with my neighbors," he said. "Who knows? Maybe I'll drive up to Montauk that day. Maybe not."

Gordon's odometer currently reads about 2.45 million miles. When he hits 2.48 million around August, he'll be at 4 million kilometers. Then, some time in September or October, likely on some blue highway in the heartland, he'll turn 2.5 million. And, as for what he'll do next?

"I'll keep on driving," Gordon said, "but whether I drive three million miles is more up to me than it is the car. The car's parts may be able to take it, but I'm not so sure about my own."

50 Years of Volvo in USA

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