PLENTY OF classic car nuts have heard of Irv Gordon. He’s the American bloke who’s driven his car, a Volvo P1800, further than any other car in history… more than three million miles!
Irv bought his bright red Volvo new – before it could be considered ‘classic’ in our usual sense of the word – in 1966. Irv’s first million miles rolled over in the 1980s before the internet came along, so it was only hard-core car nuts (for obvious reasons, mostly Volvo fans) who knew of the car and its owner.
In the mid-1990s, Irv and his Volvo were recognised for a world record as the highest mileage of any single driver in a car, at around 1.7M. The car’s second million rolled over in 2002. The third million happened in 2013 on a road trip to Alaska.
Yes, the Volvo had a couple of fresh engines over the decades but as the numbers on his odo tumbled over, Irv became an inspiration for classic car owners everywhere to get out there and enjoy your car.
But sad news… late last year, I heard that Irv passed away. Apparently, as of October 2018, he’d driven his Volvo 3,260,257 miles.
It’s always sad when a remarkable, inspirational or interesting person dies but Irv’s passing made me think about the fun that we have in our cool old cars. Right now, I’m enjoying summer cruising – in fact, almost daily-driving – my H-plated ’79 Holden Commodore SL wagon instead of a latemodel… and this is despite the fact the Commodore’s air-con and radio aren’t working! Instead, in NSW’s muggy coastal summer heat, I’m bombing down to the shops or the beach or chasing parts with both front windows wound down and the moan of the hoary old 3.3-litre/ Trimatic combo as aural accompaniment. Livin’ the dream!
The story of Irv and his astonishing Volvo also spurred me into thinking about other high-mile classic cars. Also in America – where Irv and his Volvo resided – there’s a million-mile Lexus LS400 (and yes, I’ll happily respect your opinion that you may not think a Lexus as ‘classic’) and although it’s a bit of a pub slut of a car (its motoring journo owner lends it out to colleagues to drive across the country in!) I get a bit of a buzz about the fact that machinery can be so expertly designed, carefully constructed and – maybe – fastidiously maintained (as Irv’s Volvo was) to do a million miles or a million kays or more.
Closer to home, I’ve seen a Mazda MX-5 with 700,000+ kays on it for sale (naturally I considered buying it!) and a dak-dak bloke I know has a 1974 VW Super Beetle, bought new, with more than 600,000 on it, on a couple of engines. Like many of us, I’ve heard pub and internet chatter about various peoples’ Kingswoods and Falcons – and of course Volvos – that have ‘been round the clock a few times’.
So, I’m on a mission. I want to raise a beer to Volvoman Irv Gordon’s legacy by finding Australia’s biggest-kay privately owned cool car. Do you know of a contender? Tell us at the usual address.