His daughter, Danielle Gordon, said Gordon traveled the country and the world in his Volvo P1800, which became a part of him and gave him a unique outlet to travel and make friends.
“He was someone who needed to be free and just needed to get out on the road,” said Gordon, 41.
Irv Gordon collapsed Thursday while traveling in a remote mountainous region of China for promotional work with Volvo Cars, Danielle Gordon said. It is believed that he died of a heart attack just hours after sending a message to his daughter that he “was having one of the best times of his life”. He was 78 years old.
Ervin Gordon was born in July 1940 to Henry and Emma Gordon. A graduate of Massachusetts College, Danielle Gordon declined to be named citing security concerns about his valuable car. He worked as a science teacher at Roslyn Middle School from 1962 until his retirement in 1999.
Gordon bought a Volvo for $4,150 on June 30, 1966. In the first two days, he traveled 1,500 miles. He continued to add more to his odometer with his daily commute to Roslin. In 1987, it became the fourth car to cross the million-mile mark. Eleven years later, he broke the Guinness World Record for “highest certified miles driven by original owner in non-commercial service” with 1.696 million miles. He reached 2 million miles in Times Square in 2002 and 3 million miles in Alaska in 2013.
“If a car has a soul, this car has a soul,” Gordon told Newsday in 2002, one of his many media interviews over the years.
The so-called patron saint of Volvo eventually traveled 3.4 million miles — enough to circumnavigate the world about 120 times, according to Guinness World Records. His daughter said he’s traveled to 49 states and become a “walking tour guide for a full map of the United States.”
“Herv never set out to break world records, to him, he was simply living his life in his Volvo,” Volvo Car USA said in a statement.
Gordon checked the car regularly, and no one else was allowed to drive. His engine was rebuilt twice, and his car was hit at least four times.
“Why get rid of a car that starts every time you hit the engine, takes you where you want to and doesn’t cause you any grief?” He told Newsday in 2011.
Even with his love of driving, he had other feelings about Long Island’s roads and traffic: His daughter said he described the Long Island Expressway as “the largest parking lot in the world.”
Danielle Gordon said she first drove the famous car, with her MILNMILR license plate, after Gordon’s death to take it to safety. But the key broke in the ignition, and the car was somehow locked from the inside while empty on a flatbed truck.
“We were all laughing,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, my dad is here and he’s saying, ‘Don’t touch her.'” ”
Danielle Gordon said she plans to show the car. But because “this car is really my dad,” she said, she “isn’t really ready to leave it now.” She said she will be going “for a drive with my dad and his car” this week before returning to Rosario, Argentina, where she works as a psychiatrist.
Gordon, who is divorced, is survived by two daughters, Danielle Gordon and Amy Circusano, of Maryland, and three granddaughters: Elizabeth, Lucia and Isabella.
Gordon, who is also remembered for his boisterous laugh, warm personality, sense of humor and thoughtfulness, will be burned. Services will be set after his remains are returned from China.
He said in 2002, “I’m having fun. Now it’s hard to know how far you’re going.”