Gordon can't stop driving
VOLVO P1800 driver Irv Gordon is getting ready to clock up 3,000,000 miles.
Gordon is slightly eccentric and perhaps greatly obsessive, though he denies both propositions.
In 1998, the Guinness records people put the New York resident in the book for covering 1.69 million miles ( 2.7 million kilometres) in his Volvo P1800.
You know, the low, curvaceous coupe Roger Moore drove in The Saint in the 1960s.
It was, apparently, the ''most miles driven by a single owner in a non-commercial vehicle''.
Your average non-eccentric, non-obsessive person might say, ''That's kind of neat but now I've retired from work, I don't need to drive so much.''
Gordon decided retirement allowed him to drive even further. He will complete somewhere between 80,460 kilometres and 128,750 kilometres this year.
His odo now reads 2,920,000 miles and he plans to hit 3 million miles, or 4.83 million kilometres, by the end of next year.
Every time he gets into the car - which he bought new in 1966 for $4150 - he bests the world record. The only question is: why?
''I just love driving,'' he says with a big laugh. He laughs a lot; maybe it's something to do with spending so much of his life alone in a small steel box with tail fins. ''Everyone has to have a hobby.''
Gordon describes the P1800 as ''very comfortable'' and ''very dependable''.
''It's just a fun car and you meet interesting people in something that looks so unique.''
How does he fill the long hours on the road? Listening to the radio perhaps?
''The P1800 had one of the first AM-FM band radios in the US,'' he says. ''But it's pretty noisy with the windows open on a nice day, so it's a little hard to hear that little speaker."
"I just enjoy the scenery. I just enjoy listening to the sound of the engine and what's going on around me.''
There's no obvious runner-up in Gordon's unusual field of endeavour. ''Most people stop after 1 million,'' he says.
There are cabs with vast distances on the clock, including a Mercedes with a reported 4 million kilometres. Gordon dismisses them.
''They are commercial vehicles. Most have spare engines, multiple drivers, that kind of thing. Even then, none have more miles than mine.''
Gordon's P1800 has the original gearbox, axles and engine (a 115bhp/86kW ''four'', rebuilt twice). When he hit 1 million miles in 1978, Volvo gave him a new 780 (the 780 was a decent looking coupe somehow salvaged from the indecent looking, box on wheels that was the 760 sedan).
Gordon sold it to a friend a couple of years ago, ''having only put a few hundred thousand miles on that car''.
And the secret to making a car go and go and go?
''I follow the owner's handbook, the recommendations from the people who built the car. I change the oil every 3500 miles, change the belts and hoses every 100,000 miles … just to make sure I don't have any unexpected problems while I'm on the road.''
Looking after the car doesn't run as far as having a garage. The P1800 has spent its 45 years out in the open.
Gordon achieves about 27 miles per US gallon, or 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres. That means he's used about 420,200 litres of petrol along the way. Ouch.
Will he stop at 3 million? ''No, but I doubt I'll live long enough to hit 4 million.''
Gordon will visit Australia next month, though without his P1800.
He will be a guest of honour for the model's 50th-anniversary gala celebrations at Eastern Creek, Sydney, on Sunday, August 21. See volvodownunder.com.au.