2.35 million miles and counting
By Ian Berry, Staff Writer
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Chattanooga, TN - Anyone who has put enough miles on his car to circle the Earth 94 times is bound to end up in Chattanooga every once in a while.
Irv Gordon, a East Patchogue, N.Y., native who holds the Guinness World Record for most mileage on a car, made his first visit here in six years this week. He stayed long enough to visit Prebul Volvo of Chattanooga on Thursday and to show off his record-setting red P1800 Volvo. It had 2,349,491 miles on it as he drove out of town in the afternoon.
Mr. Gordon, a retired middle-school science teacher, said he has taken care of the sporty two-door 1966 model by changing the oil every 3,500 miles, refusing to eat inside it and driving sensibly.
"I'm not the last guy to hit the brakes when I come to a traffic light," he said.
But Mr. Gordon doesn't keep his car in the garage. In fact, he said he doesn't even have a garage and doesn't put a cover on the car when it is parked at his Long Island home.
The car's red paint continues to shine even while Mr. Gordon's left elbow appears weathered from hanging out the window when he drives, regardless of the heat or cold.
From Chattanooga, he said he is headed to a car show in Madison, Ala., and would be up in Michigan for another car show next weekend.
Employees at the local Volvo dealership on Brainerd Road said Mr. Gordon offers an excellent testimony for their product. A photo of Mr. Gordon's last visit in August 1999 hangs on a wall in the dealership.
Employees said they were not expecting his Thursday visit.
"I saw the car and said, 'It's him,'" sales associate Danny Smith said. "It's 'the dude.'"
Mr. Gordon entered the Guinness record book in 1998 and passed two million miles with the car in 2002. Since then he has kept on driving.
He said he has used the car for family vacations, a 125-mile round-trip daily commute to work and countless joy rides. He has driven it onto the set of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and through Europe.
Mr. Gordon said he had the car's engine rebuilt at about 780,000 miles.
Soren Johansson, spokesman for Volvo Cars of North America, said there are several Volvo drivers in the million-mile club, but that Mr. Gordon stands alone in the two-million-mile club. He also noted that Mr. Gordon is unique in that he is the only one who has driven his car.
"I think he's the leader by a million miles," Mr. Johansson said. "I don't think there's anyone close to him."
During its travels through all the lower 48 states and across Canada, the car has been in a couple of close calls, Mr. Gordon said. For instance, a tractor-trailer backed onto the nose of the Volvo just as it was approaching one million miles, he said.
The car also has lasted longer than his marriage, although he said the vehicle had nothing to do with the divorce.
"My ex-wife was a travel agent, so she loved to travel," Mr. Gordon said. "But she wanted to fly."