Irv Gordon’s Volvo P1800 Hits 3M Miles, But Are There Any 3M-Mile Cars Built Today?

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Volvo P1800 3M mile press photo

Irv Gordon poses with his Volvo P1800 as he prepares to drive it on its three-millionth mile recently. (Photo courtesy Volvo Cars North America)

Irv Gordon has finally hit 3 million miles in his Volvo P1800, which is a fantastic victory. But it’s got me wondering: Are there any cars built today you’d expect to see pile on 3 million miles in the future?

The press release by Volvo said Gordon, 74, of Long Island, NY, drove his three-millionth mile Tuesday, Sept. 17 along Alaska’s Highway 1 — Alaska being one of only two states Gordon had never visited in his bright red P1800.

Gordon said, “It’s not about getting to the three million miles; it’s about the trips that got me to the three million miles. I never had a goal to get to one million, to two million. I just enjoyed driving and experiencing life through my Volvo.”

Volvo Cars of North America President and CEO John Maloney said, “We at Volvo applaud Irv and his Volvo. The spirited red P1800 represents an extraordinary demonstration of reliability, durability, safety and intelligent design that honors all Volvos past and present.”

Gordon added, “I bought my Volvo P1800 on a Friday and immediately fell in love. I couldn’t stop driving the car. It was a holiday weekend, and I brought the car back to the dealership the following Monday for its 1,500-mile service.

“The best way to explore America is by car,” he said. “I challenge everyone to go out and see as much as possible. Find your own journey and reason to believe because you only have one life to live. No matter how many roads I’ve been on, there’s always one I haven’t taken. That’s what makes it exciting.”

This is probably the coolest car company-generated PR campaign I’ve been following this year. It’s got a lot going for it: A cool, sporty Volvo (not an oxymoron, despite what your yuppie parents of the ’80s might have thought,) a man with zest for living, and a healthy dose of romanticism. But the more I’ve read about Gordon’s P1800, the more it has made me wonder whether we’re still building cars — any car, of any brand — that we could truly expect to reach 3 million miles.

To be fair, Volvo says Gordon was “fanatical” about maintenance — a trait that goes a long way toward lengthening the expected lifespan of any car. But let’s say you go buy the your dream car tomorrow the way Gordon bought his P1800. Think of all the in-car technology your new purchase will likely have that the humble P1800 did not. From simple stuff such as antilock disc brakes at all four wheels to higher-tech things such as navigation systems and Bluetooth handsfree control capability for the infotainment stack and your smartphone, today’s dream cars typically have megatons more technology packed into every aspect of their very being.

How will those items fare over 30-odd years and/or 3 million miles? Would you expect your car’s built-in navigation system to be able to have map updates downloaded at the dealer service bay 30 years down the road? Do you expect touchscreens to still function normally by then? Will turbocharging systems prove more reliable in 2013 cars than they ultimately did in cars built 30 years ago? What about the media? Will Bluetooth still be a viable, usable technology? Will the transceivers still work after all those years?

Basically, what I’m wondering is if our love of in-car technology is dooming us to planned — or even unplanned — obsolescence. Will more cars be scrapped in the future because their technology doesn’t perform or hasn’t kept up with the latest developments?

I suspect those are questions that will not be easily answered until we allow time to pass and unless another Irv Gordon type is out there today, buying a car they’ve fallen deeply in love with and racking up miles with abandon.

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