March 12, 2002

Irv Gordon, 1966 Volvo P1800S
Click image to enlarge

Two million miles in a Volvo P1800

On March 27th, Long Island native and retired science teacher, Irv Gordon, is scheduled to reach a milestone no other individual has accomplished in the more than 100 years of the automobile: driving two million miles in the same vehicle.

To mark the occasion, Gordon plans to drive his shiny red 1966 Volvo P1800 through the heart of New York City on Broadway, cruising up to 44th Street in Times Square, where he’ll be the honoured guest at Volvo Cars of North America’s 75th anniversary party. The Swedish auto maker’s celebration will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (EST) at Times Square Studios, home of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.”

Irv Gordon, 1966 Volvo P1800S
Irv Gordon, Click image to enlarge

“Of the 260 million vehicles on the road in the United States, only a handful have accumulated one million miles, and until now, none have made it to two million,” said Dan Werbin, president and chief executive officer for Volvo Cars of North America. “We like to say that ‘there are cars, and then there are Volvos,’ but there is more involved here than the wisdom of our engineers in developing a car that could last so long and travel so far. Irv’s meticulous care of his Volvo over the years has played a significant role.

Gordon bought his P1800 on June 30, 1966 at a neighborhood Volvo dealership for $4,150. “I was replacing a new car I had just purchased from another manufacturer that broke down on my drive home from the dealer,” Gordon said. “I love driving, and I put 1,500 miles on the P1800 during the first 48 hours I owned it. I just loved the way it drove.”

Irv Gordon, 1966 Volvo P1800S
Click image to enlarge

Gordon’s long commute to work (a 125-mile daily round trip) and his passion for driving enabled him to log his first 250,000 miles in less than 10 years. “The car never gave me any problems – didn’t overheat, never failed to start. At about half a million miles, the car was driving better than ever, and that’s when I was sure this is an extraordinary car.”

In October 1987, Gordon celebrated his one-millionth mile by driving a loop around the Tavern on the Green in New York’s Central Park. Following his retirement a few years later, he made driving his pastime, going to Cincinnati for coffee or to Denver for lunch. “I’d ask a woman out for a lunch date. When she agreed, I’d say, ‘Fine, I’ll pick you up at nine o’clock.’ When she asked, ‘Why so early?’ I’d reply, ‘Because we’re having lunch in Montreal.'”

Gordon has driven to Mexico and Canada and has placed his car on a boat for excursions overseas. He drove in Holland, Denmark and Germany. While in Sweden, he drove to Volvo’s global headquarters to see where his P1800 was born.

1966 Volvo P1800S
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In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records honoured Gordon’s Volvo P1800 as the vehicle with the “the highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in non-commercial service.” Today, Gordon is breaking his own world record every time he drives his celebrated car.

In the weeks leading up to Gordon’s scheduled two-million milestone, he will visit a variety of automobile shows, dealerships and car clubs throughout the United States. At Volvo’s 75th anniversary party, he’ll cross over the two-million mile mark by driving onto Times Square Studio’s street-level stage.

As for what he’ll be doing on March 28? “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.”

Ten Tips To Help Make Your Car Last Two Million Miles – by Irv Gordon

1966 Volvo P1800S, odometer
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  1. Start with a car you like. “To reach two million miles, you’re going to spend more than 40,000 hours driving if you average 50 mph. This means your car is going to be a home away from home. If you don’t like your car, you’ll never go the distance.”

  2. Change your oil and filter regularly. “If there is any one maintenance activity that will extend the life of your car’s engine, this is it. Considering the relatively low cost of oil and filters, this is the cheapest insurance policy your car will ever have.”
  3. Use factory equipment parts. “Avoid using parts by independent companies — go with factory parts. The people who built your car can afford to experiment more than you can in an effort to select the best part. Factory parts may sometimes be more expensive, but they are definitely compatible with your car. I believe in keeping my Volvo a Volvo.”
  4. Use one brand of oil. “Surprises are nice at birthday parties, but you don’t want them under your car’s hood. Using one brand of oil assures uniform quality and no surprises.”
  5. Spend a few minutes a week checking under the hood. “Even the most mechanically challenged car owners can look for low fluid levels or deterioration of belts and hoses. Also look to see that the battery connections are tight and corrosion free. These are the most common sources of trouble on the road.”
  6. Wash your car regularly. “Use a mild soap and wash your car by hand. In the winter, hose underneath the vehicle. A clean car gives you an excellent opportunity to look for small nicks and scratches, which may be touched up before rust begins to form.”

    Irv gordon, 1966 volvo P1800S
    Click image to enlarge

  7. Wax at least twice a year. “The value of waxing goes well beyond making your car look nicer than your neighbours’. It provides protection against oxidation and rust.”
  8. Develop a good working relationship with your dealer and mechanic. “Both are your partners over the long run. If they know you’re a serious, regular customer, they’ll give you the help and advice you need, as you need it.”
  9. Use gasoline from a high volume station. “Those old, country-store gas stations that look like relics are just that – relics. Without heavy traffic, the gasoline remains in their storage units for extended periods of time, which causes water contamination in their fuel supply due to condensation.”
  10. When your car makes a funny noise, listen to it. “Don’t turn up the radio and hope that knocking noise goes away. If your car develops a condition, take it in and have it fixed quickly. The longer you wait, the greater potential for damage.”

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