Irv’s the Long Island teacher that bought a new Volvo 1800 back in the 60s, put 1500 miles on it the first weekend, had a 120+ mile daily commute, and now he’s retired and putting on even more miles. ‘Twas a bit worried about him, he was closing on his 3rd million miles ’bout a year ago and no news was forthcoming, which did not bode well given that his home turf was hit by a hurricane round about that time. But couple days back Irv turned that three millionth mile, and not on some boulevard, either: He was driving to Alaska on his near half century old Volvo.

Volvo Car’s PR operation appears to have at least fallen in love with Irv and his couple model generations and corporate ownership removed Volvo, as they’ve set up a whole website to celebrate his travels and try to suck us in to their “social media” marketing. It’d be even better if Volvo’s current engineers paid some attention, as their current products, even those of the still Swedish controlled truck operation, probably won’t live to see  million miles. Irv’s 60’s Volvo is what you’d expect if a group of obsessive Swedish engineers conspired to build the world’s most perfect MGB, and in fact a few parts interchange. Heck, if you wanted to design a car to last millions of miles, you’d probably design a 60s Volvo- understressed 4 cylinder engine, manual transmission with overdrive, simple shaft drive and conventional rear drive, and no power steering, windows, etc.. While that magic combination lasted through the 70s and 80s and earned Volvo their reputation for long life, Neither Volvo car nor Volvo truck even offer anything so long lived today, unless you spec that Volvo truck with a non-Volvo powertrain. Volvo cars first morphed into boxy FWD Audis complete with VAG powertrains, then under Ford’s decade or so of ownership started switching over to Ford power trains, and then Ford sold off Volvo cars to Chinese interests… What’s next? Volvo truck has stayed closer to home management wise, but for buying Renault and Mack and trying to devolve them into their North American vocational and Francophone market badge engineered trucks, respectively. And while million mile life has been expected in big trucks for decades, Volvo truck’s pushing an automated manual tranny that will maybe make it halfway to that million mile mark. But they warranty it for 750,000 miles, so if you can nurse it past 500k and have it die by 750k Volvo will give you a free rebuilt that may take you past the million mile mark. Have one fail at 800k miles and there’s no parts available, and a factory rebuild from Volvo may cost more that the truck is worth…

Meanwhile, auto sales for September are mostly down and the spinmasters at the http://www.media.(insert automaker name here).coms are doing there comedic best to ‘splain the disappointing results. Seems that the luxury brands are doing OK, but the mass market that relies on the middle class is shrinking along with said middle class. Focus sales are down 15%, and the Chevy Cruze absolutely cratered, down around 50%. No surprise… A formerly middle class buyer looking for and barely able to afford a $15k car will walk away from $20k and up loaded Foci and Cruzes, and the metro Ford and especially Chevy dealer lots are full of ’em. Throw in the botched introduction of the new failed Cruze diesel at a price point above VW’s Jetta with but “leather seating surfaces” and video game gadgetry thrown in to ease the pain of purchase, and no wonder the Cruze is crashing not even halfway through it’s model cycle.

So… The automakers are doing their best to undo the marketing genius of Henry Ford and Durant and turn the new car back into a luxury item, meanwhile turning the rest of us of more limited means into million milers. Irv and your Volvo, thanks for the inspiration!

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