By on February 1, 2014

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Most marriages don’t last nearly as long as Irven Gordon’s Volvo P1800 has lasted. And most couples probably don’t spend as much time together as Irv has spent in his beloved car.

Irv says he hadn’t even heard of Volvos until a few days before he bought the car, on June 30, 1966. At the time, he was fed up with his turbocharged 1963 Corvair Spyder, which he says was constantly making him late for his middle school science teaching job by breaking down en route. While thumbing through a Car and Driver with a car savvy friend, he stumbled upon an ad for the local Volvo dealership, with a photo of a P1800. “These are great cars,” the friend told him. So down he went to Volvoville in Huntington, NY, and took a P1800 convertible for a spin. He drove for three hours, and then bought the much less expensive coupe, for $4,150, or $30,000 in current dollars, approximately his then annual salary.

That first weekend, Irv rolled 1,500 miles, returning to the dealership on Monday for his car’s first checkup. He hadn’t planned to drive through the weekend, but he says he was having too much fun to stop—up to Boston, down to Philly, and all over in between before returning to his home on Long Island. He’s been driving the P1800 enthusiastically ever since. On September 24th of last year, he hit 3 million miles.

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Irv has averaged 63,000 miles annually—172/day—although that number has ranged from 50k during his teaching years to north of 100k post his 1996 retirement. Assuming an average speed of 45 miles an hour over the years, that’s nearly 4 hours a day. (Irv scoffed at the notion of making such an estimate absent records of speeds traveled over time [see “meticulous,” below]. But for someone who has logged 3 million predominantly recreational miles, frequently crisscrossing the country, but who spent 30 years commuting 125 miles a day on the sclerotic Long Island Expressway—for a total of around 675,000 miles—45 mph seems reasonable to me.)

It takes an exceptionally well-built car to reach 3 million miles. When he opened up Irv’s engine for its second rebuild, “It was in very good shape,” says Duane Matejka, of R Sport Engineering in Pipersville, Pennsylvania. “The valves showed some wear, and the valve seats—that’s expected.” Matejka marvels that the valve springs hadn’t broken after a billion (1,000,000,000) compression cycles. On the bearings, the outer layer of lead had worn down, revealing the underlying copper. Until lead became an official hazmat, the best bearings contained an outer layer of this soft metal, which could absorb any particulates from the oil, preventing them from scoring the bearing surfaces, says Matejka.

In fact, the engine’s major problem 2 million miles after its first rebuild (which his dealer had thought unnecessary, but that Irv had insisted upon because he couldn’t imagine an engine not needing a rebuild at 687K), was a couple of busted piston rings. Matejka says those probably were responsible for the P1800’s lackluster ascent of the Sierras, the symptom that motivated the second rebuild.
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The car “is greatly over-designed,” says Matejka, who has a mechanical engineering degree, and who raced a P1800 for many years. The four cylinder “has more bearing area than a Chevy V8.” Matejka says most cars require aftermarket connecting rods to race, but his P1800’s stock rods did the job. These and the crankshaft are forged, which makes them stronger than the more usual casting. Matejka also notes that “the Swedes are anal about their metallurgy.”

The rest of the car is as well-built as the engine. Aside from the first rebuild, the P1800 had only maintenance-related repairs until after it had reached 750k, when the transmission developed an oil leak, says Irv. (Vic Dres, of Goleta, CA, reports that his million mile, ’88 Volvo 740 GLE had no non-maintenance problems until the transmission went kaput after he’d logged half a million miles, and Selden Cooper says his million mile, ’87 240 sedan is still “very reliable.” Neither engine has been rebuilt.)

Nonetheless, there’s more to reaching three million miles than quality. The engine, Matejka says, “was very clean, because [Gordon] is so meticulous,” an adjective others have applied to Irv’s maintenance habits. (In fact, a former student of Gordon’s, Richard Brunswick, MD, who I met at Arlington Mass’s Barismo coffeehouse after he overheard me talking about Irv’s Volvo, praised his teaching in similar terms.)
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For example, you’d think a ’66 Volvo, sans garage on Long Island, half a block from the Atlantic, would have rusted out already. My friend, Patty’s 1968 145, originally a California car, which her parents had bought new when she was 10, had sprouted nascent rot by the time she and her husband donated the car to NPR around 2008, after 18 years in the snow belt. When I had wondered why Irv’s was still pristine, he said he hosed the undercarriage during the winter. “I try to get all the crevices, where the salt and sand will build up,” he says. “You just have to get down on your hands and knees.”

Finally, Irv goes easy on the car. Early on, he took part in road rallies, but “after a while, I said, why am I killing my car?” Irv says he accelerates gently, and that his top speed is 60-65 mph. “I like to see how long I can make things last,” he says.

Irv’s love for road trips probably dates from the summer of ’47, when he was 8, and “my family bought a new Buick and spent the entire summer traveling around the US.” Subsequently, whenever his hard-working father had a weekend day off, “we spent the entire day in the car going somewhere.” Irv waxes eloquent about the joy of visiting new places on road trips.

But Irv has driven himself into an uncomfortable paradox. The miles have transformed the P1800 from a fungible commodity into a piece of history—enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records. That historical status makes the P1800 an asset for Volvo, and for Irv, as well. Since the first million milestone, Irv has been doing ads and events for Volvo, an avocation which he loves, but one for which he swears he receives only expenses (true, says Jessica Snell of the PR firm, Haberman, lately contracted to Volvo). Nonetheless, over the years, Volvo has given Irv two new Volvos—one at the turn of each million miles—with a third on the way.
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Volvo’s sense of value added was obvious from the shipping of Irv and the P1800 to Alaska for the 3 millionth mile, rather than allowing the event to take place in more mundane environs. Shipping the car was necessary, because by the time Volvo decided to shoot the event in Alaska, “I only had 200 miles to go to reach 3 million,” Irv explains.

All that value has begun to weigh. The odds of a car’s being totaled—a fate Texan Norbert Lissy’s P1800 suffered around 700,000 miles—rise with exposure. In all his driving, Irv says he has never caused a crash, but that the metal has been bent maybe 11 times. A year ago, Irv was headed for Baltimore on a relatively empty I-95, he says, “when a guy in pickup truck ran into my car when I was doing 65. And I was on my way to do film shoot for Google! Ever since then I’m getting to be paranoid.”

And so, nowadays, his other Volvo — the 2002 C70 that he received for the 2 million milestone — is getting more use. “I’m as careful as I can be about where and when I [drive the P1800],” says Irv. Asked if he’d ever sell the P1800, he says, “I just got invited to go to the Brussels auto show. Once I get rid of the car nobody is going to call anymore.”

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67 Comments on “The Man For Whom They Made The Three Million Mile Badge...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    That’s awesome, they truly don’t build ‘em like they used to.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      No one ever really built cars like Volvo did. Their reputation for reliability here in Europe was only barely contested by the pre-W123 Mercedes, the Toyota Hilux and some Nissan diesels. None of which could match the design, comfort, practicality and handling of the Volvos (YMMV though, I’m biased as I hate Merc’s)
      The old B16/18/20 engines were (and still are, in the cheaper classes) popular rally-X engines because they would rev all day, and the heads can barely ever breathe well enough to over-rev its over-engineered fully balanced bottom-end, so they rarely even need a rev-limiter. Being Swedish, Volvos were built out of quality metals (not with the British made P1800′s ones sadly),from the engine block to the door-handles, so even if some rust could catch them, they wouldn’t fall apart like a 70′s Japanese or Italian car either. (there are companies out there still making a living on old iron-ore that the swedes deemed too bad to use back in the day.

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        Another tale of long life:
        My sister received a Volvo 122 station wagon as a gift from our parents when she got her masters in architecture from MIT in 1964 it lived on the street in front of her Cambridge MA condo for the next 25 years and had a 60 mile per day commute life. As part of a divorce she got the condo which had been hers before the Marriage and her ex got the Volvo. He moved to a farm on the Canadian Maritime islands. When the body rotted away over the next decade he stripped it back to the frame and it continues to run as a quasi tractor on his farm.

        That engine was a gem of design

    • 0 avatar
      RogerB34

      No one maintains and drives their car like Irv.
      They don’t build them like they used to, they build them better.
      I recall my uncles arguing car quality circa 1949. Dissed the new cars as being flimsy compared to the 30′s. We owned a 39 Packard 120 sedan. Bullet proof fenders powered by a 282 cu in engine generating 120 bhp, 3600 lbs.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Vehicles are no doubt built this far more reliable, statistically speaking, today, but there several take aways from this fantastic tale of a man and his automotive passion:

        1) Buy quality and cry once.

        2) Take care of your vehicle & it is more likely than not that for every $1 of preventative, intelligent maintenance, it will pay you back ten fold (of not more) in reliability, absence of headaches & pride in ownership.

        3) There is not necessarily any relationship between the price of a vehicle and its quality or overall “goodness.”

        4) The ease of maintenance & repair that the engineers “bake into” a vehicle design is at least as important a consideration as is durability if long-term ownership is an important goal.

        5) In a world of vehicles as disposable, consumer goods, it’s a rare thing to find a vehicle that one can love for anywhere close to as for many years as Off and his Volvo.

        6) Pride of ownership rules, especially in an age of fast food, fast talk, slick marketing, two & three year leases, shiny new things & storage wars.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          I’d add a very big seventh: Take care of the appearance. Leave aside the special history here. If you had a car that looked like that and had an unexpected $2,000 repair, you would swallow hard and pay it. If it were rusted? No way.

          P.S. No way was he making $4,100 a year teaching school on Long Island, even in 1966. They started them at about $6,000 per year even out west in those days.

          Can you imagine what a horror it must have been for his wife? Your young-man-on-the-move buys a spiffy red sports car. You take to the road in your new car for a carefree weekend motoring vacation…..and then he just never stops. For three million miles. I hope she divorced him in time to have a life.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Modern cars are faster, more comfortable, easier to drive, safer and more efficient, and get a lot more power from a 1.8 liter engine. But/and they are a lot more complex and still cheaper to produce…
        Volvos from at least before the early 80′s were overengineered to excessive levels when it comes to withstanding abuse, in a way very few modern (passenger)cars are.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Opinion or fact? If fact, I’d love to see some support to back it up.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            The B-series engine family that includes the 3million mile B18, is still tuned today. Like mentioned in the article it has the bearing surface area of a smallblock v8. They can be bored and stroked to 2.3 liters , and NA tuned to 230 hp or more, depending on head design. So this 1.8 version with 115 hp is too far from it’s maximum potential to be able to hurt itself in normal driving. Dismantling an early 242 like I used to own, suspension and body parts look more like Toyota Truck parts than passenger car parts. Remember, these things were designed back when most Swedish roads were gravel and dirt, and the seasons made potholes pop up like Daisys in the spring. Youtube should provide filmatic proof of their toughness.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    Just yesterday, I spied one of these sitting in the middle of a fenced enclosure in an industrial section of Atlanta. No close up shots will be possible, but maybe I can get a pix of the scene…. :-)

  • avatar
    Syke

    You hadda print that article, didn’t you? Now the minimum standards for what is an acceptable, reliable car amongst the Best and the Brightest nickle-squeezers has just gone up.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Great for Irv. Most people spend more hours each day watching TV. Irv is behind the wheel of a car he loves and is seeing the country. He deserves the praise, as does Volvo.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Not only was that a well-built car, but it was also a fantastic design that still looks great today.

  • avatar
    MK

    That is impressive. I enjoy driving but the idea of a 125 mile daily commute gives me a headache.

    This article hits on a key point though, it’s a partnership between the owners level of care and maintenance along with the original build quality (and the relative simplicity of the vehicle helps too).

    Impressive by any measure and it reminds me of the warbirds enthusiasts who go to such extremes to keep old hardware flying better than the day it was built.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Please stop publishing stories about how good Volvos are. It’s prejudcing my opinion as I go shopping.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Volvo prior to 1995 and Volvo now are two completely different animals. Volvos sold today while competent will not be around in 3 million miles, so if you’re thinking “this is for me” head to Ebay and be prepared to ship one in.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        I think that’s fine. Everything should wear out around the 250k mark because not many people want to drive the same obsolete car for 3 million miles. Why make everyone pay for a kind of quality few will bother experienceing? I’d rather the car be made more affordable.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Good luck with affordability. If I’m going to pay through the nose I want something over-engineered so I have the option of putting stupid miles on it, even if I’m in the 99% of buyers who don’t need or want the capability.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Just bought a used 4runner that turned 196k on the way home. I don’t expect to turn 1 million but the car seems solid enough to do it. Owned a Volvo once, bought used, and bought someone’s problems. Still was impressed with the build quality of the car. Deteriorating electrical wires represented something of a nightmare and the engine began knocking at the first oil change. Must have been owned by someone who forgot what maintenance was.

    Even with the quality of the car this probably has to have some of the aspects of grandpa’s axe.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Yup, the handle, and sometimes the blade, have often been replaced. The mechanical parts of the engines seem to be able to last forever with only basic maintenance though.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Those old Volvos are almost indestructible. I once had a wild friend who owned several Volvo Amazons and drove them like he stole them. One day he bought a BMW, but the gearbox and engine was destroyed in less than a week. After that he only bought Volvos.

  • avatar
    John Marks

    A fascinating detail or two that always stuck in my mind: Because VW threatened to yank their business if Karmann built the P1800 bodies for Volvo, Volvo eventually hired Jensen as the builder.

    Jensen then subcontracted the company known as “Pressed Steel” (how’s that for phelgmatic prosaic Scottish naming?) to press and assemble the unit bodies.

    So, the car had a Scottish body and was assembled in England from parts kits.

    I never knew who the interior contractor was, or if Jensen handled that too. There might be another fascinating wrinkle there.

    I am astonished that a US dealer had a convertible P1800 to sell; I thought that there were very few and that they were kind of quasi-prototype/car-show cars.

    I think that the “Snow White’s Glass Coffin Car” later version is more favored in the US collector market, but I just love the funky tailfins of the original.

    ATB,

    John Marks

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    That’s why I love old cars so much. You can keep them running forever.

    You’ll never get that kind of mileage out of anything newer, without spending a far greater amount of what the car cost originally. The new stuff is great, but disposable.

    I want two more older vehicles. A 1st gen Corvair, and a 64-66 Imperial. I want them mint, and I’m going to keep them that way for the next half century or more.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    This is a great story…I wish I had the discipline and determination to keep a car for 100,000 miles, let alone 3,000,000!!!

    Here’s what I can’t believe….He plunked down almost a year’s salary on a car! He must have been living at home at the time, and his parents must have paid for college. How else could you afford to do that? I started teaching in 1999 making 36,800 in northern NJ. There was no way I could have walked into a dealer and dropped that much on a 3-Series, for example.

    I guess life was simpler, and cheaper, back then.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Or he had inheritance, etc. There are other facets the story isn’t telling.

      One of which is how his personal relationships went down the drain as he spent his whole life in a red Volvo!

  • avatar
    PCP

    There has not ever been a P1800 convertible to buy at a dealership.
    Some might have been converted privately at a later time.

    There was, though, as Wikipedia states:

    The Volvo Sport (also known as P1900) is a Swedish fiberglass-bodied roadster of which sixty-eight units were built between 1956 and 1957 by Volvo Cars.

    It has not much in common with the P1800, though. In fact, it supposedly was a horrible car…

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      PCP and John Marks,
      If you mean that Volvo never built a production 1800S(what Irv’s car actually is-see photos) convertible, you’re correct. The Long Island dealer, Volvoville where Irv did his road test, was famous(or infamous)for offering custom Volvo 1800S convertibles. If you have any auto magazines from the 1960′s, like Road&Track or Car&Driver, you’ll find ads from Volvoville offering this model. Try R&T August 1966 page 94 for a look at their small display ad.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    This thing belongs in a museum. There is no other fitting fate for a 3 million mile car.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      5 million?

      Maybe if he can hit 10 million Volvo will retool and make
      A brand new car to the exact specs of the 1800, or make him CEO…. Or just give him one of the new Chinese volvos…

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I’m rather more interested in how this guy’s back is holding out by logging so much seat time. He either has a spine made of steel, or that Volvo has some unbelievably ergonomic seats and tough upholstery.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      If they could be made to fit, I would replace the seats in any car I have owned over the past 40 years with renewed seats from a Volvo, the only exception being the seats in my old Saab 99EMS. That includes two Porsches and an array of cars from other Euro manufacturers and the Detroit 3.
      Written from the comfort of my Ekornes Stressless Chair.
      This story makes me want to shop for an old brick….

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        My dad used the same old Volvo Amazon front seat in his first 3 Ford Taunus cars. I would change the drivers seat in my CRV for my old ’78 242 seat any day if I could make it fit, and if it had a side aribag…

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        Spot on as to how nice the 99 EMS seats were.

        I wonder how much the comfort problems (those of us who are taller or shorter than the 95th percentile norms that most car makers seem to use suffer the most I think) in modern seats may be linked to the modern safety requirements and their side airbags and stronger back design required for both headrest support and impact to the back of the front seat. The stronger seat bottom designs and the attendant support structure might also be a factor.

        While my 6’4″ large frame finds the drivers seat of my 2004 MINI CooperS to be quite acceptable the front seats inn my mid 70s SAAB 99 EMS were better and if not the best I have ever used then close to it

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Volvos have great seats. I’m curious how much has really been done to the car, seems like things like upholstery and door gaskets and so on would just have hardened and cracked by now.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Rudiger, you’ve never taken a long trip sitting in Volvo seats, have you?

      It’s not only that Volvo figured out how to make comfortable seats early on, it’s that most of the other carmakers didn’t bother trying to get it right (and some still don’t bother). A lot of other carmakers simply got it wrong. Note that a crappily designed seat covered in soft, expensive leather is still a crappy seat and a well-designed seat, even finished in cheap material, is still a comfortable seat.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I sure wish Volvo would share their seat making secrets with the rest of the world. The seats in my wife’s ’08 Volvo C30 are nearly perfect, even with the size difference between us (I’m 6’0″, she is 5’3″) with complete different body shapes (I’m lanky and she is curvy) yet once adjusted we both fit very comfortably. Can’t say the same about my Dodge Dakota, its seats are beyond terrible I hate them. The seats in my 350Z are pretty good being sporty buckets, but the C30′s still win.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          I haven’t spent much time in either the 350Z/370Z or the Volvo C30, but I wouldn’t be surprised that the seats were well-designed. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Volvo seats were recommended by doctors for drivers suffering back pain in other brands of cars. It’s difficult for manufacturers to design one seat that comfortable for both large adults and not so large adults, but Volvo and a handful of other carmakers managed to do that. Another standard seat design that stands out for me is both the cloth and leather front seats in the Merkur XR4Ti. They incorporated a number of manual adjustments, including height, to make persons of variable sizes comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        FWIW, there’s actually a sinister basis for poorly designed, bad car seats, and that’s cost. Traditionally, it’s quite well known within the auto industry that there are two places it’s possible to scrimp on costs, and that’s seats and brakes.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Great story, but before lauding Volvo too much, just remember that most 1966 Volvos – and every other make – are gone now. Today’s cars are much, much better.

    His car – and care – are corner cases.

    BTW – I also wash off my car’s undercarriage after every salt exposure. No point in letting it rust in a warm garage.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      I’d still expect more ’60s Volvos to be on the road globally than anything else – bar Mercedes, maybe. In Scandinavia, so many are left that they are part of the used car market, unless being particularly pretty.

      • 0 avatar

        I may have to go there and get one.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        True,and there are still lots of fresh drivers out there trying desperately to kill old 240′s from the mid 70′s that already have 3-400.000 km’s on them, with little success…Rust and/or sideway crashing them into threes or lamp posts seems to the most effective remedy, but sometimes even those come back after wome welding.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        It’s not often that a 60s era Volvo is still in good shape body-wise, but one recently sold IIRC on eBay. It was 1965-67 122S four door, I think, either in the Pacific northwest or the Bay Area, in absolutely fine condition all around. The final price was bid to about $11,000. I don’t remember what the accumulated mileage was.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    A lot has been written about Irv and his car, but it’s great you include some insight into the technology that makes this possible (bearings design etc). Can’t we get pictures of the engine rebuild, too?

    I think Volvo’s attitude is great, too. The first car he received for free was a 780, a quirky classic in its own right today.

  • avatar
    7402

    Funny, I had a turbocharged 1963 Corvair Spyder that similarly impressed me. I sprang for a Type III VW instead. It was also reliable and economical, and the only car I ever sold for more than I paid for it when it was 18-years old..

  • avatar

    This guy is a god to me.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    How difficult can it be for others to provide a seat as good as Volvo and why dont they do it? Cost?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Yes, it’s cost. Traditionally, it’s well known within the auto industry that there are two places it’s possible to scrimp on costs, and that’s seats and brakes.

    • 0 avatar
      John Marks

      My understanding is that for the US makes at least, long ago they outsourced design and build of the seats and much of the rest of the interiors to specialist contractors such as Johnson Controls. So, the seats are in that sense an added cost and less of a profit center–the contractor reaps the profit attributable to “value added.”

      Indeed, in 2011 Johnson Controls completed its acquisition of Keiper/RECARO, which started out as a body builder for Porsche, and when Porsche took that function inside by buying the outside contractor, to give that family something to do, they let them continue to make the seats… .

      http://www.johnsoncontrols.com/content/us/en/products/automotive_experience/seating.html

      A propos de rien, the front seats in the 1985 Nissan Stanza (Prairie in Canada) were for some reason better than in our Mercedes diesel wagon… .

      John Marks

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Very cool story about a cool guy.

    You have to hand it to Volvo for giving him a new car every million miles. While I imagine it’s good publicity, it’s still a nice gesture. I note that the 780 and C70 weren’t exactly cheapskate specials, either.

  • avatar
    honda_magna85

    Gotta share a high mileage story here:

    I was pumping gas a few years ago here in the heart of the Upstate NY rust belt and noticed the guy behind me had a real old Sentra. I believe it was badged as a Datsun, but it might have been Nissan.

    Anyway, i shouted out to him, hey nice to see somebody is keeping another old car on the road (I was in my 89 toyota pickup, which is one of a dwindling number that hasn’t turned to rust from road salt).

    The Sentra driver, who was an older gentleman shouts back “yeah, its got almost a million f***in miles on it”

    So i go over to take a closer look. Now this car was the opposite of Irv’s volvo. The entire body was rusted, dented, and rattle can painted with rust-oluem red. The rocker panels were completely gone, and rebar had been haphazardly welded in it place. There was a single seat for the driver, and the rest of the interior was bare metal. If I recall correctly the odometer has 875K. He said it was the original motor that had been rebuilt once. The car was on it 4th transmission. He said it was an easy car to work on, so why get rid of it?

    We shook hands, and he left in an unmuffled roar and took off down the road.

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    I recently hit 300,000 miles on my ’96 328i. The engine runs great. No problems with the manual tranny. But everything else is failing. One by one, the components have been or will need to be replaced. There is rust on every body panel. I have to be careful when jacking the car up because rust has eaten away the underside of the car. It is after all, a daily driver in northern New England. After recently adding up my repair bills over the last 2 years, I realize that it’s costing me more than a new car payment. But 3 million miles blows my mind! I can’t fathom the time and effort required to keep the car running so well. If this guy is still married, his wife is a saint! I agree with other posters that any car made after about 1990 would never make a million miles, never mind 3 million. I also agree about Saab seats. My 1983 900 had the most comfortable seats ever and an awesome manual sunroof.

    • 0 avatar

      There is an 06 civic with 750k, and a 2 decade old accord with 1 million-plus

      http://jalopnik.com/5885287/how-i-put-750000-miles-on-my-honda-civic-in-just-five-years

      I have heard of another Civic with a million, a post-millennium car, I believe. That guy lives in Florida, and drives all over the country, like Irv, but I think as part of his job.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Kohalmi

        David, there’s a big difference between a car that accumulates mileage at 15,000 miles a year in the rust belt (especially in inner-city areas) and another that’s driven 150,000 miles a year in Florida or California. How does someone drive 150,000 miles a year anyway? (Without going insane and having a life outside of work.) I bet that’s more miles than most tractor-trailers accumulate per year.

  • avatar
    bergxu

    @Zykotec;

    Sorry mate. A Merc W123 is a superior car to a P1800. Far, far more million-plus-mile Merc diesels still serving as taxis in third world countries, and going on minimal maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Might be apples and oranges there, was P1800 available in diesel? Its also worth pointing out P1800 was not designed for sedan or taxi service, it was designed to be a quasi sports car. Comparing a 144 diesel and a W123 diesel would be a more accurate comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I don’t think diesel Volvo started until the 240 with a modified VW engine, they weren’t exactly great.

        I have good respect for the W123 Benz diesel, but prices, parts, and lack of speed keep me away from them. That and hippies with their lazy bio-diesel conversions.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    No diesel in P1800. The first diesel in a Volvo was probably 1979 Volvo 240 with a VW diesel.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Didn’t Volvo only rake in minimum profits on their over-built models?

    Great cars though, Irv Gordon deserves credit for his dedication in the days of yearly trade ins, let alone todays leases.

    Do people even value real car ownership anymore? As in maintaining a car and keeping it pasr warranty? I do but I’m a bit backwards.

    I can attest to Volvos quality though, my 240 has some well sized brakes, the seats are the best I’ve ever sat in (thanks to Volvo hiring specialists to design them), and just one of the doors alone has more steel in it than a full 80′s Honda Accord.

    I just hate the door pouch plastics, luckily you can swap numerous parts across Volvos and the interiors are basic, I’ve re done maybe 45% of my interior with junkyard bits including adding a tach, arm rest, and head cushions, all original Volvo parts!

    I can’t brag for miles at just 115k, but as far as I know my 240 came from that same Volvoville Huntington, NY.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I love those 240 headrests with the slats. They’re on par with old Audi headrests that were the hollow rectangle. And the steeply curved pagoda headrests from old Merc’s.

  • avatar
    gamecat235

    This is a wonderful write-up of the badge and quick summary of Irv’s travels and experience. I had known that there were some aftermarket convertible options through some dealers, but I never knew how close Irv came to owning one of them, and likely never experiencing anything like the milestones that he has managed with the vehicle he has.

    I’ve read dozens of articles about Irv’s journey, and read through the Volvo site dedicated to him, and I still came away learning a few things. Thanks so much!

  • avatar
    Power6

    David nice job on this. I like your straightforward representation. Although the romanticizing has begun in the comments about how they just don’t build them like we used to…anything as extraordinary as Irv’s case is typical in that there are so many factors that go into it. This guy drives a ton and really takes care of this car!

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Regarding a long service life of a car/truck.

    Here is one of the big keys to that. “Irv says he accelerates gently, and that his top speed is 60-65 mph”

    If you accelerate slowly to about 2,000 RPM, it makes a big difference in the life of an engine, and the bonus is, it saves fuel. If you also get off the throttle as soon as you can, you reduce wear and save fuel.

    The reason for reducing wear by slowly accelerating, is, the faster you accelerate, the greater the internal pressures and heat build up in an IC unit. High heat and pressure, accelerate wear and eventually kills an engine. I back off the gas or slip in to neutral at every opportunity. A careful regime of driving, saves in many areas, from fuel to brakes. Drive like you don’t have any brakes and you can about cover all the ways to save money on one of the biggest investments most of us make.

  • avatar
    Ben

    It’s so true they don’t make cars like they used to. I have a 1966 Mercedes 250se Coupe the same year as Irven’s Volvo and I have 1,283,720 miles on it today or just over 2 million kilometers. I still drive it as my daily driver today.


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