YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

2-Million-Mile Man Still Is Cruising Strong in His 1966 Volvo

Regular oil changes--and a love of driving--earn the P1800 and its driver a place in history.

April 10, 2002|John O'Dell

Irv Gordon's car just might be the most-traveled passenger car of modern times, which makes his tips for automotive longevity--stay out of accidents and change the oil often--well worth listening to.

It's been 36 years and a record 2 million miles since the retired science teacher walked into a Long Island, N.Y., Volvo dealership in 1966 and drove out in a new P1800 sports coupe.

An inveterate driver, Gordon says he put 1,500 miles on the car in the first 48 hours he owned it. Thanks in part to a 125-mile daily commute, he hit 250,000 miles in 1971 and by October 1987 had logged 1 million miles.

Gordon's sporty red Volvo made it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1998 as the car with "the highest certified mileage driven by the original owner in noncommercial service."

It got there, Gordon said, because he changed the oil every 3,000 miles and rigorously adhered to Volvo's recommended maintenance schedule. And because he loves to drive.

He didn't stop with the Guinness record.

A man who once said he found nothing unusual about picking up a lunch date at 9 a.m. so they could make it from New York to a restaurant in Montreal by noon, Gordon last month became the first private motorist to log 2 million miles in one car.

That's an average of 55,555 miles a year.

Gordon said his records show he's done 667 oil changes, replaced 400 spark plugs, installed 80 new tires and pumped 6,400 tanks of gas into the Volvo. The car had its engine rebuilt at 600,000 miles, but still is using the original transmission and rear end.

Volvo Cars, not shy about the opportunity to brag, has feted Gordon and his P1800 on numerous occasions and staged the 2-million-mile event at a March 28 party in New York celebrating Volvo's 75th anniversary.

We caught Gordon and his Volvo last week when he arrived in Universal City to prepare for a guest appearance on car buff Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" on NBC.

As for what happens next, "I'll keep on driving," said Gordon, 61. He voiced uncertainty, though, about his ability to become the 3-million-mile-man. "The car shows no signs of giving up," he said, "but I'm not so sure about me."

Los Angeles Times Articles