• Oct 26, 2007
click above image for more pics of the 2.6 million-mile Volvo P1800

We've reported on high-mileage cars here before. There was the Jetta diesel that Volkswagen found in Ohio with 562,000 miles on its odometer. Then there was the Saab 900 that had traveled 1,001,385 miles in its lifetime. Finally, there was also a 1995 Dodge Ram that passed the million-mile mark. We know of these cars because Volkswagen, Saab and Dodge sought them out and have been using their mere existence as marketing tools. At least the driver of the Volkswagen was given a 1-year lease on a new Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI. The Dodge Ram owner got a call from Tom LaSorda and a book about DaimlerChrysler's history, while the Saab owner actually had to buy himself a new set of Swedish wheels.

All high-mileage vehicles still traveling our nation's roads, however, must tip their rusty hats to this one, Irv Gordon's 1966 Volvo P1800 with 2.6 million miles under its belt-line. Gordon has been the only owner of this P1800 since it was purchased new in 1966. A 125-mile round trip daily commute and a penchant for regular maintenance got the car this far, and in 1998 it made the Guinness Book of World Records at just 1.69 million miles.

Since retired from teaching science, Gordon now plans on hitting the 3 million-mile mark sometime in the next five years. Keep in mind, he's slowed down to 80,000 miles/year from his record pace of over 100,000 miles/year in 2002. While not promising to retire the car once it hits 3 million miles, Gordon says he might break down before the car does. We hope if that if he does reach that milestone, Volvo will pony up a free replacement for his Energizer Bunny-esqe P1800. How about a C30?

[Source: Volvo]



PRESS RELEASE:

At 2.6 Million Miles, Irv Gordon and his Historic Volvo Roll On

Retired Long Island Science Teacher Sets Sights on 3 Million Miles In His Record-Breaking 1966 Volvo P1800

IRVINE, Calif. (Oct. 26, 2007) -- With 2.6 million miles on his record-breaking, shiny red 1966 Volvo P1800, 67-year-old Irv Gordon is now aiming to achieve a near impossible milestone - driving three million miles in the same car.

Gordon, a retired science teacher from East Patchogue, N.Y., purchased his sporty Volvo in June 1966, and immediately fell in love, driving 1,500 miles in the first 48 hours. With a 125-mile round-trip daily commute, a dedication to vehicle maintenance and a passion for driving, Gordon logged 500,000 miles in 10 years. In 1998 with 1.69 million miles, he made the Guinness Book of World Records for most miles driven by a single owner in a non-commercial vehicle.

Today, Gordon breaks his own record every time he drives, whether it's to Cincinnati for coffee, Rolla, Mo., for lunch or Green River, Wyo., for dinner. And now, the treasured Volvo P1800 continues to roll through the ages despite the wear of road and time, Gordon - like any mighty record-holder at the top of his game - has begun to think about his legacy.

"My goal is to reach three million miles in the next five years," Gordon said. "But, whether I reach that mark 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.

"I turn 72 on July 15, 2012," he added. "That seems like a nice day to clock three million and park the car once and for all. It will be a fantastic testament to the engineering genius of Volvo as well as to the resiliency of folks my age.

"I'll also feel comfortable that three million miles is a record that no one will ever be able to reach in the same car," Gordon continued. "That is, unless Barry Bonds decides to start driving his car more after he retires from baseball."

Slowing the Pace in Recent Years
Through the late '90s and early part of this decade, Gordon had been driving at a near fanatical pace of well over 100,000 miles per year, peaking in March 2002 when he gained worldwide attention for turning two million miles while driving down Broadway in Times Square. Today, to reach his next milestone, he is allowing a more conservative pace of 80,000 miles per year, thanks in large part to doctor's orders.

"You tire a little easier when you reach my age," Gordon said. "Gone are the nights when I'd be driving through Nebraska at 3 a.m. on I-80 West, jacked up on two pots of delicious Waffle House coffee.

"Last year, when my doctor told me I could no longer drive 24 hours at a time, 1,000 miles a day, I thought he was out of his mind, but I now realize he's right," Gordon said. "Today, I get a full night's sleep, eat healthy and take eight days to drive cross country, rather than six. The car gets plenty of exercise no matter how I plan each trip."

Gordon Seeking New Places to Drive
Gordon drives for the pure pleasure of driving but, these days, what motivates him most is an invitation to drive to an event to show off his car and visit friends. As he drives toward three million miles, he's looking for new places to go.

"I've traveled pretty much every Interstate in the U.S. many times over, so these days I'm looking for fresh, alternative routes and sights," Gordon said. "I'm hoping for some invitations to some faraway places like Europe, Australia or Hawaii.

"I can hold my own with almost any trucker at any truck stop in any country - discussing roads, construction, or the best nearby, small-town diner with a good cup of decaf and piece of raisin toast."

What to Do After 3 Million
Gordon is unsure what to do with his Volvo after three million miles, though he has considered selling it for no less than one dollar per each mile he's driven.

"I also think it should go in a nice, cozy museum where people will get to enjoy seeing the car that beat the odds - all with the same engine, same radio, same axles, same transmission and of course the same driver," Gordon said.

"So, maybe I'll sell it. Maybe I'll donate it to a museum," he concluded. "Who knows? Maybe I'll keep driving it."


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  • 40 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've met Irv at volvo shows and talked to him about the car. I seem to remember he is using an alarming number of original components including the original engine and distributor. Neat guy! Hopefully he or someone who knows more will chime in on the comments.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Amazing story! Can't wait to hear about it when he makes it to the 3 million mile mark! Taking care of your vehicle or having a car company take care of your car can truly make a difference!
      Volvo Dealers
      • 3 Years Ago
      You can find more information about Volvo p1800 here : http://www.volvo-dealers.com/volvo-bio/
      Allen Fields
      • 7 Years Ago
      A man down the street owned one of these Volvos when I was growing up. I always thought it was the most stylish car in the neighborhood. Who knew one would last so long?

      My Dad has over 1.2 million miles on his '92 Chevy truck. Original engine. Second manual transmission (at around 1 million). Contacted GM about it and never heard a word back from them. Go figure.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Allen Fields
        I've got a '98 Malibu LS with nearly 388,000 miles on it. Original engine and transmission but it needs some work. A lady at work said her husband was in a club for Toyota owners with more than a few hundred miles. I told her that I was going to join a club with Chevy Malibu owners with more than 300,000 miles and that both of us were going to have a blast!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Are we to assume that this is on original transmission and engine?
        • 7 Years Ago
        The engine is original. It was rebuilt around 600,000 miles, but not because it needed it. Volvo "red block" four cylinders are incredibly robust. The blocks have a high nickel content, and it's not uncommon to pull the cylinder head on an engine with multiple hundreds of thousands of miles and still see crosshatch marks on the cylinder walls from the factory honing.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Although I have incredible respect for this man and his contribution as a teacher to our children and his passion for driving, the story becomes a bit less sensational if major systems such as the engine or the transmission has been replaced multiple times.
        • 7 Years Ago
        engine can't be replaced without the mileage going back to "zero". the whole point of mileage is to show how much the engine has been used. transmission, on the other hand, can and probably has been replaced in this car. it's damn near physically impossible for a transmission to hold up over 2.6 million miles, no matter how much upkeep is put into it...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Um, I have replaced engines in several cars, never has the mileage gone back to zero...
      • 7 Years Ago

      If anyone is interested in learning more about Volvo p1800's check out
      http://volvo1800pictures.com/ or http://1800philes.com.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Peter Gilbert, the owner of the million mile Saab 900 SPG got a brand new 9-5 Aero wagon from Saab, and Saab also offered the same thing to any Saab owner with a million mile, single owner car.

      Frankly, I think Peter Gilbert got the best reward out of all three of those guys. You should update the post.

      Also, I've read about this Volvo before. I sure hope it makes it to 3 million, P1800s are totally awesome (unlike pretty much all other Volvos).
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, I saw a couple of news stories on this particular car back when it hit 2 million.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My father has a VW Bug with 1.3 million miles on it and he finally changed his tranny out when he hit 1.2!!! How would I help him get something from VW? Do you think they would help him restore some of it?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Is he the original owner? That's usually what they want. Here's the Volvo offer:

        The offer of a free, new 2007 Saab 9-5 Aero [not to exceed an Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price of $38,735 (certain features and options are subject to availability at time of delivery) and delivery to take place at an authorized Saab USA dealer] valid from the date of this release through calendar year 2007 (offer ends Dec. 31, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time), is available to any U.S. customer who can present verifiable proof to Saab Automobile USA that he or she is the original owner of the Saab vehicle that covered one million road miles or more, that the vehicle is in running condition, that the odometer hasn’t been tampered with, and that the vehicle is currently and has always been registered in the United States.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Irv's a fun guy. I've met him at a couple of car events, including the Ford 100th anniversary in front of the Glass House in Dearborn.

      The way he puts on all those miles these days is by driving the car to tons of car events.

      I never really liked fins, so the 1800 looks a little dated to me. The 1800ES, though, will always be one of the most perfect automotive designs ever. Every single "sportwagon" since then tries to capture a little bit of the 1800ES.

      The ES also came with a higher compression, fuel injected version of the engine (B21 if I recall correctly) that had about 10% more power. They also put it in the 142E, which I was fortunate to own, and was equipped with bigger brakes and stiffer springs than the regular 142.

      I don't think any of my Volvos got over 250,000 (or less than 150,000) but the old Volvo engines are pretty damn impossible to break. While I did throw a rod soon after getting a rather beat up and rusted red 142, other than a chip the width of a rod in the cylinder skirt the block and crank were fine so I rebuilt it and it ran fine in that car and then a cleaner 142 after I went around a corner in the red one and the track bar mount tore away from the inner fender.

      High mileage cars are cool. I had a Jaguar XJ6 with 225K. Not much in the way of electrical equipment worked, but at 85mph it was still a Jaguar.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Babied all it's life heck most cars will last with treatment like that...The P1800 generally wasn't that reliable for a volvo, rot was a big problem too. Some were actually british built! Wonder if that one was..hehe
      Mark
      • 3 Years Ago
      Our old 1989 Volvo 240 DL station wagon got over 350,000 miles on the same engine and tranny before we finally sold it. Volvo sent us a small plaque for every 50,000 miles over 200,000 I like to think it's still out there somewhere, chugging away on that 4-cylinder engine...
      • 7 Years Ago
      That is a sweet design, it looks as fresh today as it did 45 years ago. A true classic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I met this guy this year in Carlslile...the car is in supermint condition!
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