Don't ask about Volvo's sales in September, but last month was a memorable one for the brand in another way.
Irv Gordon, a 74-year-old Long Island native and retired science teacher, reached a milestone no single owner in a noncommercial vehicle has ever accomplished: driving 3 million miles in his cherry red 1966 Volvo P1800.
Gordon shot past the 3 million mark on Alaska Highway 1, one of the few places in America he says he had never traversed in his classic coupe.
For Gordon and Volvo this has been a long-running publicity fest. Gordon passed the 1 million mark in 1987 by driving a loop around the Tavern on the Green in Central Park.
In 1998, with 1.69 million miles, Gordon made the Guinness Book of World Records for most miles driven by an individual in a single car. In 2002, he drove the car's 2 millionth mile down Times Square and got international media attention.
Volvo is using Gordon in a new TV commercial that includes a flashback to 1966 showing an actor as young Irv signing for the car and driving it off the lot.
"I bought my Volvo P1800 on a Friday and immediately fell in love," Gordon said. "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."
He has rebuilt the engine twice, but it's the same P1800, a model consecrated in Volvo lore.
But perhaps it's time to urge Gordon to buy a new one. September sales were off 16 percent, the latest in a string of bad months.