By Noah Joseph
Think of Volvos and you're likely to picture a station wagon carrying kids home from soccer practice. But 50 years ago, the Swedish automaker produced one of the most curvaceous sportscars on the market.
It was called the P1800, and it still stands as an icon in the company's history and a cult favorite among collectors. Conceived in Sweden, designed in Italy and built in England, the P1800 gained fame on the screen as Roger Moore's car in The Saint, and served as a precursor of today's halo cars, envisioned to draw customers into the showroom.
The P1800 offered customers Ferrari-like styling with Volvo levels of dependability. That last part has certainly proven true for one owner, who holds the world record for most miles traveled in a non-commercial vehicle, and continues to beat his own record every time he pulls out of the driveway.
Irv Gordon – a retired science teacher from Patchogue, New York – racked up 1,500 miles in the first 48 hours after buying his P1800 in 1966. Within ten years of ownership, he had put on 500,000 miles. He reached the Guinness Book of World Records with 1.69 million miles in 1998, and hit the big two-million mark arriving in Manhattan's Times Square in 2002. As of this writing, his odometer reads 2.9 million, and he's not about to stop short of the three-million mark, touring classic car events around the world on Volvo's behalf.