Irv Gordon looks young for his age. If you were to divide the almost three million miles he’s driven in his 1966 Volvo P1800 by the national average of miles driven per year, he would be 220 years old. The forty-year relationship Gordon’s shared with his P1800 is particularly special when considered in terms of today’s culture of frequent leases and returns. To accomplish such a feat, Gordon relied on his love of road trips and a daily commute of 125 miles. He surpassed the 250,000 mile mark in less than five years.
A former science teacher, Gordon has hung with celebrities, been studied by Google and is in the Guinness Book Of World Records for, perhaps unsurprisingly, most miles driven by single owner in a non-commercial vehicle. It is a surprise, though, that his beautiful P1800 (they don’t make cars like they used to) still has the same engine, axles and 10-watt single-speaker sound system that originally came with the car. Gordon took a few minutes to tell us about his pastrami-driven last meal on earth, his certification as a shotgun instructor and why his next car might be an Aston Martin.
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Q. What’s one thing every man should know?
A. How to understand women and all things mechanical (in that order).
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. Trying to accommodate everyone at the expense of my personal health and well being.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. Completing the last few miles on the road to three million miles with my 1966 Volvo P1800.
Like every other man I knew, I just wanted a car that looked sexy and was a “chick-magnet”.
Q. Name one thing you can’t live without.
A. The ability to travel spontaneously.
Q: Who or what influences you?
A: My parents, who were always taking road trips whenever they were able to take time off from work.
Q. What are you reading right now?
A. A repair/service manual for a 1929 Packard model 633.
Q. Name one thing no one knows about you.
A. My family nickname (don’t ask!). I am also an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor.
Q. It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
A. My last meal on earth would be a combination pastrami, corned beef and brisket sandwich on rye with a knish, a side of deli mustard and a bottle of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray or Cream Soda.
Q. If you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
A. Hang in there. Life is going to be good… no, life is going to be great.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As a good teacher who had a positive influence students, was fair in judgments and treated others as I would have liked to have been treated.
Q. Why did you initially choose the P1800?
A. I loved the way it looked, and after a three-hour test drive I loved the way it handled. It’s beautiful on the outside and has a comfortable interior. I could find no fault with the car, inside or out!
The Volvo’s only fault: it doesn’t have AC or power steering.
Q. What’s your favorite feature of the car and least favorite feature?
A. Even today after 47 years, my Volvo remains infinitely comfortable on long road trips and still gets more than its share of attention. It handles every kind of weather and never misses a beat. Its only fault: it doesn’t have AC or power steering. The 10-watt AM-FM radio with one speaker leaves much to be desired by today’s standards as well.
Q. When did you decide you would keep the car and cross that first “million mile” milestone?
A. I never made such a decision. I love driving my 1800 as much now as I ever did. The million miles was strictly an accident due to enjoying “the journey” anywhere/everywhere in my 1800. For all those miles, my Volvo never left me on the side of the road and never failed to start.
Q. Did you ever think about selling the car?
A. Once. I almost traded it in for a 1973 Volvo ES as there was more headroom in the back seat for my children. Instead, I purchased a 1973 Volvo 145 for the family and kept my 1800.
Q. What car(s) were you looking at in 1966 other than the Volvo?
A. GM and Ford products for the most part… mostly cars that could go fast no matter how badly they handled or how poorly they held up to time and miles. I really needed a car that could take me 125 miles on my daily commute without constantly breaking down as did my 1963 and 1965 Chevrolets. And like every other man I knew, I just wanted a car that looked sexy and was a “chick-magnet”.
Q. Is there any new car (other than Volvo) that you’d be excited about buying?
A. I would love to have an “exotic car” such as an Aston Martin or the new Buggati Veyron. I love “toys”. On the other hand, I can afford to service a Volvo… not too sure about the exotics.
Gordon says after he turns that three millionth mile in a few weeks in Alaska he will slow down a little, remarking that his car might last another million miles but he’ll need some modern advances to be convinced to keep going. Maybe a “2014 Volvo XC60 R-Design with all the bells and whistles would make future road trips even more fun, more comfortable and more interesting”, he said. But he won’t forget the trusty steed that brought him so far. “Perhaps I’ll pull my 1800 around the country [with the XC60] on a flatbed trailer”, he said. Follow Irv Gordon at 3MillionReasons to see the countdown and learn more.