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Million-mile Volvo becomes the AACA Museum’s latest acquisition

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Seldon Cooper’s former 1987 Volvo 240, now a resident of the AACA Museum. Photos courtesy AACA Museum, unless otherwise specified.

In September of 2012, Maryland resident Seldon Cooper pulled into Lehman Motors Volvo for the 200th oil change on his 1987 Volvo 240 sedan, turning the odometer past the one-million mile mark in the process. Almost three years later, in June of 2015, the car was donated to dealership, and earlier this month Lehman Motors donated what may be the second-best-known high mileage Volvo in the United States, after Irv Gordon’s three-million mile P1800, to the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Seldon’s first Volvo was a 1975 164E, purchased new and kept for 12 years and “just” 250,000 miles. Impressed by the car’s longevity, his next Volvo was a 1987 240 sedan, the same car that would ultimately top the million-mile mark, though doing so wasn’t an initial goal. As Seldon related in a 2012 interview, he began to think it was possible at 500,000 miles, achievable at 667,000 mile, and, after cresting the 750,000 mile mark, even likely.

1987 Volvo 240

Seldon Cooper with his Volvo 240 in 2012. Photo courtesy Volvo.

When the dealership realized that Seldon was close to rolling over his odometer, it scheduled an event and invited all of its high-mileage customers. As sales manager Dan Lehr related to us, the shop has around 25 customers with 250,000 miles or more on their cars, though Seldon was the first to top one million miles. The actual odometer rollover occurred in Lehman Motors’s parking lot, where it was (safely) filmed for posterity.

His secret to such a long lifespan was simple: follow the maintenance schedule published by Volvo to the letter. At Seldon’s 2012 recognition ceremony, Lehman Motors service manager Mike Danzi stated that the shop had never taken more than the valve cover off the engine, meaning that the internals were the same components fitted by Volvo during the car’s assembly. Seldon’s 240 had visited the Lehman Motors body shop on a few occasions, and one reason for the car’s near-pristine appearance is a courtesy repaint given by the dealership.

How did Seldon rack up a million miles in just 25 years? Early on, his commute took him from his home in Hershey, Pennsylvania to an office in New Jersey, and later, Washington D.C. His family would take regular trips to North Carolina, interspersed with the occasional SCUBA diving vacation in south Florida. At 700,000 miles or so, the Volvo carried the family to a vacation in Nova Scotia, and Seldon admits that he never had any trepidation about taking the high-mileage car on longer trips.

1987 Volvo 240

Moving the car to its (temporary) new home.

After reaching the million-mile mark, Seldon declared that he would keep his quarter-century old Volvo, saying, “It does everything I want, and it does it very reliably. It’s my absolute pleasure to drive it.” Eventually, though, the time came to pass the car along, and after purchasing a “low-mileage” 2005 Volvo S60 (with a mere 180,000 miles on the odometer), Seldon donated the 240 to the dealership in June of 2015.

The car was a hit with customers, but as Dan explained, the shop was running out of floor space with Volvo’s expanding product line, so the decision was made to donate the car to the AACA Museum. “There,” he said, “its story can continue to be told.”