The road to 3 million milesHe's within 2,000 miles of the goal, and Volvo is hoping he hits the 3-million milestone during a trip to Alaska in September, one of the last states he has yet to visit in his classic car. Already, Gordon holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most miles driven on a vehicle by a single owner. As the big day approaches, it's hard for Gordon to resist the temptation of the open road.
The Volvo is still in great shape and working order, and he still drives it. In his 47 years of ownership Gordon has been in 11 collisions, traveled to 48 states and nine countries, and eaten at 800 Waffle Houses in his Volvo. Recently, he took the Volvo on a road trip from Canada to Michigan to Kansas City and back to his home in New York, through some extreme weather.
"I just drove it through flood warnings, tornado warnings and ran into 105 degree heat in Kansas City" he said.
Love at first sightGordon started out trying to buy American cars, but was dissatisfied with the quality. Two Chevrolet convertibles in the space of a few years had nothing but engine and electrical problems. He couldn't get the dealerships to address the problems and he was soon fed up. He knew he needed to find a reliable vehicle to get him to his job, a 125-mile daily round trip for the new schoolteacher.
"GM wouldn't stand behind their car, I just needed something reliable," said Gordon, who lives in Patchogue, N.Y. "I was tired of arriving at work on the back of a flatbed."
A friend directed him towards foreign cars, so Gordon headed to a Volvo dealership to test drive a convertible.
"Back then there were less rules, so the dealer just handed me the keys," he said. "I had so much fun I drove it for three hours"
On that June day in 1966, a love affair began.
Master of the road
At $4,150 the new 1966 Volvo P1800 cost him about a year's salary. After trading in his Chevy and borrowing some money from his parents, he was on the road. He now has had a lifelong love of Volvo cars. Volvo gifted him a new vehicle when he hit his first million, and he drove it 460,000 miles. He also received a new Volvo when he hit 2-million miles. That car currently has over 116,000 miles on the odometer.
"I love my Volvo. Usually when you see people getting out of their cars on long road trips, they're stretching and aching. I don't. I feel really comfortable in my little car," Gordon said. He should know. To reach 3 million miles Gordon has driven over 60,000 hours at an average speed of 50 mph.
His story is now the focus of Volvo's Three Million Reasons campaign, which follows his travels. Their interactive map shows he is already a master of road trips.
"I use a GPS for local addresses," he said, "but I know most of the roads by heart. I've been to 48 states and most of Canada."
Becoming a high mile driver
Like fellow high-milers Hugh and Tammy Pennington, who still drive their Silverado 3500 HD after 1.2 million miles, Gordon says the secret to his Volvo's longevity is regular TLC and maintenance.
"I just read the owners manual. I figured, they built it, they wrote the book on it, so they know how to take care of it." he said. By replacing hoses and belts and keeping up on oil changes Gordon has kept his car running, and plans to keep driving it as long as it runs.
He suggests taking a few minutes to look under the hood each week, use one brand of oil and keep your car clean by washing it once a week. Most of all, start with a car you like.
"Take the time to take care of your car. You expect it to start every time and be there for you, return the favor."