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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The history of the car with the most kilometers traveled in the world and its unexpected end

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During the 1960s, Simon Templar, a handsome Robin Hood of the time, with a background as a thief and detective skills, moved all over Europe and conquered beautiful women on a Volvo P1800. Templar was The Saint, the protagonist played by Roger Moore (later also one of the first James Bond) of a very popular British television series of that time. And the Volvo worked as his ideal complement to move in the world of luxury that he frequented. It was a two-door model, with a central engine and rear wheel drive that the Swedish brand manufactured between 1961 and 1973.

The Volvo P1800 S remained intact for 52 years with its sole owner.

With a not inconsiderable validity in the European market -More than a decade- and the popularity gained with Moore in the remembered series of adventures and intrigue, the Volvo P1800 it could have gone down in history as just another of the many models that transcend thanks to a box office success. But no. With a much more peaceful life than that of the Saint, a simple school teacher, Irv Gordon, put the Volvo in a climax, unique, to which no other model could reach.

With the odometer reading 5.25 million kilometers, Gordon’s Volvo P1800 S entered the Guinness Book of Records as the car with the most kilometers driven in the world. And all with the same owner at the wheel, the architect of a feat that was built for 52 years. Irv Gordon, born in 1940, was 26 when he succumbed to the sensual lines of the P1800. He bought it and in its early days it covered about 2,400 kilometers. Because of his work, this teacher from Long Island, New York, had to do about 200 kilometers daily, so the Volvo was inevitably destined to add a considerable amount of taxiing. But not even Gordon himself could imagine how far they would both go.

The Volvo P1800 was a seductive and luxurious coupe that was sold until 1973.

Gordon drove his Volvo around the United States, even taking it on a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden, his birthplace. In 1998 he entered the Guinness for the first time, with 2,719,791 kilometers traveled, but there was more. Gordon never got rid of the Volvo and had it until 2018, when he passed away. A history of more than 50 years built on the reliability of a model and the unconditional feeling of its owner.

The Volvo P1800, presented internationally in Brussels in 1960, entered production a year later and quickly became a cult car for his foray into the El Santo series. It came with a 1,800 cc 90 horsepower engine, and then in 1969 it was brought to 124 hp. It was equipped with a four-speed ZF gearbox and offered the automatic transmission as an option. At first, as the company’s Swedish factory did not have capacity, the brand handed over the manufacture of its brand new model to the British company Jensen, but in terms of quality it could not live up to the Swedish requirements. Thus, in 1963 that contract was canceled and Volvo began to manufacture its attractive coupe at its central plant: since then, the cars began to be called P1800 S, like Gordon’s.

In the 1960s, the Volvo P1800 was popularized alongside Roger Moore as Simon Templar in the El Santo series.

In 2002, when the car exceeded 3.2 million kilometers, it was the star of an event in the mythical Times Square in New York, and also appeared in the popular Jay Leno program, one of the most watched in the United States. Gordon also got a gift from Volvo for the feat – he received a C70.

From his unconditional love for the car of his life, Gordon became the best ambassador for the brand around the world. In 2013 the company itself sponsored it to break the 3 million mile barrier (4,828,032 kilometers) during a trip to Alaska. That new chapter ended with another gift for the teacher, now retired: an XC60 from the Swedish brand’s catalog.

Irv Gordon never wanted to part with his Volvo.  His wife melted it shortly before his death.

With the odometer comfortably exceeding 5 million kilometers and his health weakened, in 2017 the most bitter episode occurred in Gordon’s eternal relationship with his Volvo. Gordon’s wife asked him for the car to go to the supermarket and he agreed: “Initially she was going to take the car herself but I couldn’t stay calm and I went with her. I told him to drive because my legs hurt and what happened next is very difficult to remember: Nancy accelerated to full speed with the parking brake on and melted it, ”said Gordon himself, who had to be hospitalized in the event of an attack by nerves. No longer driving, a year later Gordon passed away. And the record-breaking Volvo was nailed with the odometer at 5.25 million. Unrepeatable.


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