My Meeting with the Three Million Mile Man
Written by Mike Wilson on June 21, 2017
It’s always a pleasure to attend the Fleetwood Country Cruize-In at Steve Plunkett’s estate in London, and this year was no different. As expected, there were classic collectors left, right and center, all with stories to tell. However, one story stuck out after having the pleasure of running into a gentleman named Irvin Gordon.
Irv is from Long Island, New York, and he’s known around the globe for setting the Guinness World Record for the highest non-commercial vehicle mileage. Brace yourself, because he just passed 3.3 million miles on his 1966 Volvo P-1800S. That is approximately 5.3 million kilometres!
Just so you know how incredible of an achievement this mileage is, a trip to the moon is only 238,855 miles. Think about that for a second - that’s a lot of interstellar round trips! It definitely explains why he has been his only competition for the past 19 years as no one would dare try and challenge that incredible record.
As we talked, he mentioned that he was 26 years old when he bought the new Volvo for exactly $4,150. At the time, that price tag was equal to his annual salary as a science teacher.
When I finally asked how he managed to amass such an astonishing number of miles, he said that he drives his car almost every day - even during the winters! But Irv did confess that it hasn’t been entirely easy - he has been in a few incidents over the years. The one that sticks out the most to him was when he had pulled into a rest area to catch a good night’s sleep while on the road. He had only been parked for a few minutes when a tractor trailer hit him, hooked onto his front bumper and started to pull him with it. As he was being driven off with his front bumper stuck in a massive tractor trailer, fortunately for him, the trailer hit a bump which detached the car from it. Hold your breath because when this happened, Irv’s Volvo was exactly 12 inches away from a 30 ft drop into a ravine.
At the time, the car was just about to hit the 1 million mile mark. But what makes this even more memorable for Irv is that the tractor trailer driver was completely unaware of the collision in the first place. No wonder this memory sticks out in his mind; it seems like a scene straight out of a movie!
When Irv did ultimately cross that 1 million mile mark, he was gifted a beautiful 1987 Volvo 780. He managed to put 475,000 miles on it before selling it off. Apparently the car is still on the road today. Subsequently, when Irv’s car crossed the 2 million mile mark, he was given a Volvo C70, one of only 60 made with a manual transmission. He has also been in numerous Volvo commercials. The most recent one involved him driving his Volvo in Alaska while a helicopter followed him around to fully capture the drive that would cross the 3 million mile mark.
As of this day, Irv has driven his car through 5 countries - twice, all thanks to the generosity of Castrol Motor Oil. I guess holding a Guinness World Record does come with its own perks.
One of the last questions I asked Irv was how he keeps himself motivated. After all, he has been driving the same car for decades. Irv explained that the key is to maintain his record is to genuinely enjoy driving. Whether these are everyday drives around his town or amazing trips on the U.S. Route 66 (aka Will Rogers Highway), Irv just likes to keep driving. Sure, there are days when there is a need for an immediate repair of brakes and exhausts, but that’s just a part and parcel of being a car owner. For him, maintaining his record is really that simple.
How inspiring is that? I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to bet that Irv will be crossing that 4 million mile mark very soon.