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Irv Gordon of Volvo P1800 fame

RIP. Since this is a car forum and most everyone has heard his story, I thought it worthy of its own thread. A regular guy...

https://apple.news/AVj1T8ABXSSS749iq6TH5Kg

Volvo owner Irv Gordon, who drove 3.2M miles in his P1800, has died

Irv Gordon was perhaps the world's most famous Volvo owner.Irv Gordon, the famous million-miler Volvo man, has reportedly died at age 77. The news was confirmed by his fansite, which cited a Facebook post by his daughter.
Gordon, a former schoolteacher from Long Island, gained fame and Guinness World Records mentions by driving, driving and driving the Volvo P1800 he bought in June 1966. He originally turned to Volvos after having trouble with two consecutive Chevrolet Corvairs; Gordon needed a dependable car to get him to work and back every day, doing 125 miles of daily commuting.
A Wired article on Gordon says he really got into the record-driving thing after realizing he had passed the 250,000-mile mark with his Volvo with just basic maintenance and no repairs, getting a nice letter back from Volvo after he wrote the company to praise its product.
The first million miles were a big deal for Gordon, his Volvo and the carmaker: Volvo gave him a new, Bertone-designed 780 coupe he proceeded to use as a family car, eventually selling it with just over 450,000 miles — the P1800, he kept. The Guinness record was broken at 1.69 million miles, almost exactly a million miles after Gordon had the engine rebuilt despite the car not needing the work after all. It turned out to be fine, and Gordon had just been overly cautious. The second million-mile mark, passed in 2002, earned Irv a new C70.
The P1800 did receive a new engine in 2009, as the original one was losing compression, and some bodywork damage sustained in SEMA transport cemented Gordon's long-held belief that no one else should drive the car but him. He also did all the oil changes and brake work himself. The last mileage update on his Facebook fanpage put the car at 3.2 million miles, or over 5 million kilometers, in May 2018.
Gordon drove the car all over the world. Imagine all the people you meet and stories you hear when you're out on the road, mile after mile ticking on the odometer of the car that's become a part of you, and vice versa. As Gordon said in another interview:
"I bought this car, and I was so pleased that the car always took me to work every day, took me home every day, never gave me any grief, never gave me any problems, never needed any repairs. So, I expect that I'll still be driving the car until there's nothing left of me — the car'll still be around. The car's in better shape than I am."
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Old 11-18-2018, 10:05 AM
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A sad but sweet story. Always like the P1800's, looks wise.
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Old 11-18-2018, 10:15 AM
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I hope it goes to a good home. Likely their museum, I would imagine.
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Old 11-18-2018, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Higgins View Post
I hope it goes to a good home. Likely their museum, I would imagine.
It should never go to a museum but be used for another few more million miles
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Old 11-18-2018, 11:22 AM
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Irv made me smile every time I drove my 1800ES.
Was perfect mechanically. Zero issues.
Made it to almost 250k before rust won.
Old 11-18-2018, 11:28 AM
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My wife drove a 71 1800 E back in the day.
It was a beauty..white w/ Red leather.
It was a rebodied 140, so strong like a bull, but as noted, rust on those Volvo’s never slept.
Old 11-18-2018, 11:37 AM
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RIP, Irv!

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Old 11-18-2018, 07:42 PM
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Stories like this are fascinating to me, I can just never figure out how someone can drive that much. I always think that I drive too much but I've never put more than about 10k a year on a vehicle, (it's hard for me to compute because my driving has always been split between a few cars/trucks/motorcycles).

I just put ~5k miles on my Jetta TDI in a month driving it to MN. and back from SoCal. That was a lot of driving. It's up to about 140-something thousand, was 124k when I bought it 3 years ago. I'm looking at switching it for a late model used car w about 44k on it just to drive a newer car but it's fine w 140. You need a really long commute, every day to mile up a vehicle. I've never had that but it still seems like I'm driving all the time, living in L.A.
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Last edited by speeder; 11-18-2018 at 08:49 PM..
Old 11-18-2018, 08:47 PM
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I remember reading about him when he hit 1 million miles. That seemed like a lot of driving. Imagine all those hours behind the wheel. Boggles the mind. P 1800s are great looking cars. A friend had one for several years. It rusted out and he put the mechanicals in an unrusted 444 that he found in So Cal. Volvo outsourced some parts (Skinner Union carbs and Laycock de Normanville overdrive) but thankfully didn’t go to the Brits for the electrics.

I just watched that video. He never mentioned a family, which may explain how he had the time and freedom to do all that driving. Also, the car he is sitting in front of in the video isn't his. It's right hand drive with UK license plates. Looks like he is sitting in a Volvo dealership in England. He is seen driving a red left hand drive car later in the video.
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Old 11-18-2018, 09:22 PM
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After all, if it was good enough for the saint...
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Old 11-18-2018, 11:13 PM
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love those cars but they RUST BADLY AND QUICKLY
every one I have looked at was rusty and I have looked at every one local in my price range
so my volvo's have all been sedans
I even found a rust free 245 turbo stick [undercoated by zebart]
hunted for years esp the later 1800es mini wagon version but all had major RUST
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Old 11-19-2018, 04:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggythecat View Post
My wife drove a 71 1800 E back in the day.
It was a beauty..white w/ Red leather.
It was a rebodied 140, so strong like a bull, but as noted, rust on those Volvo’s never slept.
AMAZON based the 1800 sports coupe started in 61 long before the 140 in 69
both used the red block 4 with ohv/push rods that later became the 2.3 ohc motor
used in 240/740/940 but the same red block 61 to mid 90's
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Old 11-19-2018, 04:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdfifteen View Post
I just watched that video. He never mentioned a family, which may explain how he had the time and freedom to do all that driving.
The news came from a Facebook post by his daughter, so he had a family.
Maybe he was driving to get away from them .
Old 11-19-2018, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggythecat View Post
My wife drove a 71 1800 E ...
It was a rebodied 140, so strong like a bull...
They were not rebodied 140s...different car... more similar to the 120.

Last edited by tcar; 11-19-2018 at 08:09 AM..
Old 11-19-2018, 08:04 AM
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I've owned a 1971 1800E for the past ten years.

I used to see these when I was growing up and always wanted one. They definitely look better than they drive. They are slow by today's standards and need upgraded sway bars to improve the wallowing handling but mine still gets a lot of attention whenever I take it out.
Old 11-19-2018, 10:13 AM
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The a-hole who lived behind us had a red one, which I always coveted

That would be a long way to drive in a little car.
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Old 11-19-2018, 07:32 PM
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I had one to use for a short while, a good example mechanically. I guess you can get used to anything, (doesn't even take a million miles), but they drive very primitively by modern car standards. No real performance to speak of, slow steering and outdated controls, etc...

It was no Porsche 911, to use a design of similar vintage. Definitely a great looking, well made car, though.
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Old 11-19-2018, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeder View Post
Stories like this are fascinating to me, I can just never figure out how someone can drive that much. I always think that I drive too much but I've never put more than about 10k a year on a vehicle, (it's hard for me to compute because my driving has always been split between a few cars/trucks/motorcycles).
This. I'm 56 and my best estimate is I've covered about 100k miles in my lifetime, so Gordon's story always fascinated me. Commuting 1250 miles a week helped, but even so. He mentioned part of why he got divorced was his wife didn't enjoy the constant roadtrips he wanted to take after retiring.

I actually hope Volvo buys the car and puts it in a museum for a well-deserved rest. The late 60s/early 70s were a sweet-spot for engines, imo - they were overbuilt and understressed; it was the lack of decent rustproofing that thinned the ranks.

As an aside, I always wonder what happened to a red 911SC I saw on eBay once - it had 500k miles ten years ago.
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Old 11-20-2018, 06:06 AM
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