Three million miles is six round-trips between the Earth and the moon. Or, for the more local travelers, it’s 537 schleps from Los Angeles to New York City and back.

It’s also the distance 74-year-old Irv Gordon has driven -- in a single car. On Tuesday, Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800 passed the 3-million-mile mark during a road trip on Alaska’s Highway 1. 

The retired Long Island science teacher set a world record in his Volvo in 1998 (most miles driven by a single person in a non-commercial vehicle). But he says it’s never been about the number of miles, but rather what he’s seen during his journey.

“It’s not about getting to the 3 million miles; it’s about the trips that got me to the 3 million miles,” Gordon said. “I never had a goal to get to 1 million, to 2 million.”

After buying the cherry red coupe new in 1966, Gordon wasted little time piling on the miles. He picked it up on a Friday and put so many miles on it over the weekend, it was back in for service the next week.

“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,” Gordon said.

With a 125-mile daily commute, the mileage quickly stacked up. He reached 500,000 in 10 years. Just over 20 years after buying the car, he hit his first million miles.

Each of the million-mile marks has come during a special trip. The car rolled over to 1 million in 1987 while driving around Central Park. Two million also came during a New York City trip in 2002.

And this latest milestone came during a drive along the Turnagain Arm in Alaska, one of only two remaining states Gordon had never visited. “The best way to explore America is by car,” he said.

Now that he’s eclipsed 3 million, the possibility of another million miles depends more on him than it does the car, Gordon said.

“The car may be able to take it, but I’m not so sure about me.”

david.undercoffler@latimes.com

Twitter @LATimes_driven