Remembering Irv Gordon

Irv Gordon passed away last week. It is almost impossible to be in the old-car hobby and not know about Irv and his claim to fame. In 1966, he purchased a brand new ’66 Volvo 1800S coupe, and proceeded to spend the next 50 years driving it everywhere. He eventually surpassed three million miles in the car, and although he spoke of retiring it (Volvo corporate had already gifted him 3 new Volvos), I read that at the time of his death the 1800 had 3.2 million miles on it.

As an employee of Volvo Cars North America, I had more than a passing relationship with the man. While I likely had met him at one corporate event or the other in the 1990’s, it was during my time as a field service representative on Long Island that he and I became friendly.

As I strolled into the service department of Volvoville one morning, there was Irv, sitting in the service area, shuffling some paperwork. At that time, in the late 1990’s, he had a part-time gig at the dealer, performing test drives and attending to some administrative chores. Parked on the street around the corner from the store was the red 1800, of course, as he used it to commute to work. He used it to fetch a cup of coffee in Boston, and he used it to join dealer events in Oregon. How do you think he got to 3,000,000 miles?

Early in our friendship, I asked him, “Irv, what’s the secret your success?” With a pause and a twinkle in his eye, he replied “a strong bladder”. Watching him in action, he had a ready smile, a quick wit, and the patience to answer whatever questions were put to him. Frequently, he would be standing near the car while being questioned, and not one to waste a moment, he’d check various fluids as he spoke. I learned about Irv’s fastidiousness when I watched him pull the dipstick to check the oil level, but then use the few droplets on the end of the stick to lube his hood hinges!

Later, in the early 2000s, I traveled to SEMA with a group of fellow VCNA employees, and Irv was on that trip too. Watching him at SEMA was like watching a rock star, but one who had some degree of modesty attached. Generosity was another trait that perhaps few saw, but I clearly recall one holiday season at Volvo HQ when Irv showed up with several cases to wine to give out to employees.

Irv’s C70 coupe at my house; it may have had “only” 100k on it

In the summer of 2010, my wife and I hosted a breakfast at our home for a few of our hobbyist friends. Irv was on the invite list, and I was thrilled that he accepted. The day before breakfast, Irv called me. “Hey Rich, do you think the guys will mind if I drive the C70 coupe instead of the 1800? To tell you the truth, it’s hot, and I wouldn’t mind riding in A/C.” (Do I need to point out that the ’66 did NOT have air?) I said “Irv, I don’t think this crowd gives a hoot what you show up in. We’re just glad to have you join us.”

Irv and Nick debate who will finish the pancakes

As Larry and I took over the reins for our Sunday morning breakfast runs, Irv was on our distribution list, but rarely joined. He always had some lame excuse, like, “I’m driving to San Antonio that weekend”. However, in October 2010, he did come out for one of our drives, and even brought the 1800. This was probably the last time I saw Irv.


Irv, in the seat he knew so well


Oct. 2010, breakfast, when we were lucky to get 12 people to join us


Always smiling Irv

I’m glad to have known you, Irv. It was an honor to call you a friend.

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.



15 thoughts on “Remembering Irv Gordon

  1. Rich,

    Thank you for penning these words of remembrance. I don’t know if Irv was married, but if there is an address I could send a condolence card I would like to mail one. I met Irv multiple times through the Volvo Club of America and regularly at the Volvo stand at the NY Auto Show.

    Do you know what is going to happen to Irv’s P1800?


    Sent from my iPhone



    • Hi Hugh, thanks for your comments. I have no further info on Irv. One suggestion is to check his FaceBook page to see if there are any updates there. I’m also waiting for some sort of official announcement from VCNA, which as of earlier today, to the best of my knowledge, has not been released yet.
      Best, Richard


  2. Yes that was a fun day. Was that the day you were giving us rides in your ISETTA ?
    can’t believe it was eight years ago.
    Irv was a very nice humble man.
    I remember when the refresh of the S60, was as that 2009 ? I forget but we had a Reveal at my dealership and Irv was kind enough to come and join us. He was a great Ambassador for Volvo for sure. Yes we all will miss him.
    Bill W.


  3. What a nice remeberance to a true Volvo enthusiast from that day in 1966 when he took delivery. Irv was always the gentleman that wanted to meet you first even though you only put 12K miles a year on your ride! He will be missed and thank you Richard for the proper and fitting words about a special and truly one of a kind car guy.


  4. I checked back the year was 2010 introducing the second generation S60 2011 Model year.
    Irv was with us greeting prospects and customers at Englewood Volvo.
    Great memories of our Volvo Ambassador Irv.


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