N.Y. man nears 3 millionth mile in beloved '66 Volvo
Bay Shore, N.Y. • It just keeps going, and going, and going. No, it's not a battery. It's Irvin Gordon's 1966 Volvo P1800S.
Gordon's small, red two-door has well more than 2 million miles on the odometer, the equivalent of nearly 1,176 times across the globe.
The retired schoolteacher from Long Island hopes to reach the 3 million mile mark by next year. He only has 34,000 miles to go.
The 72-year-old Gordon drives his Volvo everywhere. He has held the Guinness World Records mark for High Mileage Vehicle since 2002 and was the first person to hold that record.
"It's just a car I enjoy driving," he said.
He bought his beloved car on June 30, 1966, for $4,150 at the age of 25. "It was a whole year's salary," he said.
Gordon originally wanted the convertible Volvo with air conditioning, but it was too expensive. He paid extra to have an AM/FM radio, though.
"It was $10 extra, and at that time, $10 was a lot. But an AM/FM radio was a big deal," he said.
Gordon's car has just enough room for him and his essentials. His front bumper is filled with pins of his mileage achievements. Even his license plate says "MILNMILER." And his trunk overflows with the many car parts he thinks he might need when on the road.
"I have a set of everything," he said. "If I have it, then I am not going to need it."
Gordon has been taking road trips since he was a kid and continued through his adult years. He says he would just tell his family to pack their things and hit the road. Gordon's two daughters went on his road trips until they outgrew the tiny red car.
"They just couldn't fit in the back anymore. That is when I bought the station wagon," he explained. "Volvo, of course."
His odometer doesn't have enough digits to display the actual mileage, but Gordon has tune-up records verifying it.
Now divorced, Gordon takes road trips alone. With trips to Montreal, Texas and Michigan in just the past month, the last leg of his life trip should not be too hard. It took him 21 years to reach the first million miles and 15 more years to reach 2 million. Gordon averages 85,000 to 100,000 miles per year. Most of his trips are for auto shows, but he also takes trips across the country just for a good cup of coffee.
"I have had coffee in every state," Gordon said. "I am my own travel channel."
The avid driver believes in taking care of his car, and he doesn't let anyone else drive it.
"That's why I bought my girls their own cars," he said.
Jordan Weine is a mechanic at Bay Diagnostic, an auto shop based in Brooklyn and a Volvo expert. He says because Gordon takes care of his car, he is able to get high mileage without much change to the car's original mechanics. The car still has the original engine, though it was rebuilt twice in the car's lifetime.
"How high does a redwood grow? If it is not messed with, it will grow," said Weine, who hasn't worked on Gordon's car. "And there are very few redwood trees and the same goes with this. There are very few people that can achieve 3 million miles."
It is clear that Gordon loves his car and he can't imagine getting rid of it.
"Why would I want to get rid of it?" he asked. "Kind of like a good woman."
Gordon's car has brought him fame. Joe Brusack, a mechanic who worked on his car when it was on its millionth mile more than 20 years ago, said it's come a long way.
"I think it was just amazing that he got this far," he said.
Gordon is surprised every time he gets into his car and edges closer to his 3 million-mile goal. But the miles have taken a toll on the car. Recently, some black tar got into the car's carburetor. He has to get that fixed before he can hit the road again.
Volvo has sent Gordon to trips around the country and the world to represent Volvo in auto shows.
"I don't think (just) any car could do it," said John Maloney, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. "It is a combination of a car beloved by his owner that has gotten Irv to this mileage."
Gordon thinks that his Volvo will last way longer than 3 million miles.
"I have a feeling I'll be dead long before the car."