September 26, 2002

Volvo owner who drove 2 million miles suffers mishaps in Europe

New York, New York – Irv Gordon, the Long Island, New York native who earlier this year became the first person to drive two million miles in the same car, a red 1966 Volvo P1800, has returned from his five-week European vacation with three bizarre yet minor injuries that he suffered during his stay.

Gordon, a 60-year-old retired science teacher from Long Island, gained worldwide notoriety on March 27 when he turned his two millionth mile in his Volvo P1800 while driving down Times Square during Volvo Cars of North America’s 75th Anniversary event. To celebrate his achievement, Gordon spent much of August and September driving a victory lap through Sweden, Holland, Germany and the United Kingdom — his first trip to Europe in eight years.

According to Gordon, the vacation “overall was pretty fun,” despite suffering a rash of injuries, including a broken toe, bee-stung eye and lost tooth filling, that put Gordon’s pain threshold, and socialized health care, to the test.

Gordon began his vacation in mid-August as a guest of honour at Volvo’s worldwide 75th anniversary event and a Genuine Volvo Parts annual meeting. Bliss turned into agony during his final day in Sweden.

“I was biting into a crayfish and then — wham! — out pops a filling from one of my teeth,” Gordon said. “My mouth immediately began throbbing and my friends tried to help me find a dentist. Unfortunately, I think every dentist in Sweden vacations in August, so I figured I’d try my luck at my next stops, Holland and Germany.

“No such luck,” Gordon said. “We didn’t know anyone who knew a dentist in either country.” After taking a ferry to the United Kingdom, where he would participate in Volvo Cars of United Kingdom’s anniversary event, as well as a variety of gatherings at Volvo dealerships, Gordon’s British mechanic whisked him to a dentist for repairs.

“By the next day, I was back in the pink and hanging out at my mechanic’s shop as he was doing routine maintenance on my car,” Gordon added. “I was standing under the hydraulic lift. Silly me, I forgot that the steel grids on some British lifts come all the way down to the ground, as opposed to American lifts, which leave about four inches of space so you don’t get your feet caught under them. I was abruptly reminded of this difference when — wham! — the steel grid comes down on my left big toe, splitting it down the middle.”

Once again Gordon’s British mechanic whisked him to medical attention. “I sat in the waiting room of a critical care facility for seven hours, bleeding like a stuck pig,” he said. “I had three nurses and four doctors visit me, each telling me that I was in a lot of pain and that my toe likely was broken. Oh, really? I thought I was in a bad Monty Python skit. Finally, they remove my nail, tape me up and send me on my way.”

“Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come,” Gordon said. “That next week, I had been asked by a local Volvo dealer to be the grand marshal of a community rugby match, which I gladly obliged.

“I’m standing next to my car in a rugby field ringing a siren and then — bam! — a big English bee stings me in my left eyelid,” Gordon said. “It must have been drawn by the sound of the siren. Anyway, it hurt so badly I fell to the ground. Fortunately, my British mechanic was there to pull out the stinger.

“I wake up the next morning, look in the mirror and scream, ‘holy cow,'” Gordon said. “My eye had swollen shut, making it look like I lost a fight in some pub the night before. It was unbelievable so I stood there taking pictures of myself so I wouldn’t forget.”

Gordon returned to the United States in mid-September. “There’s a lot more room over here to pursue my goal of reaching three million miles before the decade is over, although I was able to put another 4,500 miles on the car while in Europe,” Gordon said.

Irv purchased his P1800 in June 1966 from a neighbourhood Volvo dealership for $4,150. Gordon’s 125-mile daily commute to and from work, his passion for driving and his meticulous care for his car enabled him to clock the miles. In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records honoured Gordon’s car as the vehicle with the “highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in non-commercial service.” Gordon breaks his own world record every time he drives his celebrated car.

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