I’ll be frank and let you know right from the start that I have little or no love for Volvos. With perhaps a single exception (a sedan from the 60’s that Noel owned) I have found them to be needlessly heavy, abominable in terms of handling, and expensive to repair. The last characteristic was welcome from a mechanics point of view.
None-the-less, Irv Gordon of Long Island, New York, has managed to put over 2.6 million miles on his 1966 Volvo P1800.
Irv says that he spent three hours road testing it prior to purchasing it in 1966. Maybe he had visions of Roger Moore driving it in the British TV series, “The Saint”. He suggests that the goal should be to buy the best quality car you can afford and one that is comfortable since you will be spending a great deal of time in it to rack up millions of miles.
So what did Irv do in order to achieve that kind of mileage? First and foremost he doesn’t eat or smoke in the car. He keeps it clean inside and out, underside and top side. He maintains it just as the owner’s manual dictates, placing his faith in the fact that the engineers who designed the car know best.
One thing this car did not see was a garage. Irv doesn’t have one. So for 41 odd years this car sat out exposed to all the elements of the northeast along with a good deal of salt air from the nearby ocean.
Irv says, “The car is driven daily summer and winter, through snow, ice, rain, etc. It has never failed to take me where I wanted to go and never broken down en-transit. I guess those engineers really knew what they were talking about regarding service schedules. After all, a machine is only as good as the service it gets.”
He does an oil change every 3000-3500 miles and uses a factory Volvo oil filter. The points (remember what those are folks?) and spark plugs are replaced every 20-25,000 miles. Filters and belts are replaced as necessary, and the mechanical fuel pump is changed out every million miles or so. The carburetors have their bushing replaced at about 900,000 miles and that is about the same time the oil cooler is replaced with a new one.
Irve insisted on an engine rebuild at 680,000 miles, but that was the last time. The transmission fluid is changed per the owner’s manual at 25,000 mile intervals with multi-weight gear oil. The third gear synchro has been replaced as well as the transmission seals, but other than that, it has been trouble free.
Naturally the body has had to deal with being out in the elements for so many miles, but all he has had to replace are the rocker panels and some of the rear wheel arches many miles ago. Of course there have been the dings and dent that parking lot provide, but all in all, the body has stood the test of time remarkably well.
As I’ve said before, tires are the most important part on your car and Irv has consistently used Bridgstone Potenzas for the past 36 years. He finds them the most durable tire and able to deal with the variety of weather conditions daily driving in New York provides.
When the car past a million miles in 1987, Volvo gave him the keys to a new 780 Bertone Coupe. He recently sold it to a friend in Holland. It had 470,000 miles on it and “ran like new”. Passing the 2 million mile mark Volvo gave him a new C70 coupe.
Here, in his own words, Irv sums up why he keeps his car:
Why trade in or get rid of a car that continues to provide safe, comfortable and dependable transportation, all with timeless good looks? I cannot see any reason to sell the car or trade it in for a newer model. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new Volvos and I love AC, power everything, a wonderful stereo and lots of power, but my 1800 has become more than a part of me. I am divorced from my ex-wife, but my car seems to still love me so how could I be so cruel? Most likely I will pass on while in that car. Perhaps I can be stuffed and put behind the wheel and the two of us can be together in some museum one of these days. The car has given me a new meaning to the word “retirement.” If I were to sell the car, I would not get invited to anything fun or anyplace interesting any longer. No one would want to see me. After all, the car does all the work and I just go along for the ride.