The Rides of Ireland
Ireland is famous for its Blarney Stone, multitudes of busty redheads and the famous rock band U2, but many for many gearheads, the land of St Patrick lies under the radar. Sure, it’s got miles of winding roads that are perfect for flogging a Ferrari 458, but it has little in the way of local automakers. However, those few companies that have made their home on those fair isles made some pretty fascinating automotive hardware in their day. DeLorean DMC-12
This futuristic gullwing became part of America’s pop culture after 1985’s blockbuster hit Back to the Future. The car had many idoncraystic features, including gullwing doors and stainless steel body panels. Another odd aspect of the DMC-12 was that it was manufactored in Northern Ireland. The brainchild of the DMC-12, John DeLorean, originally planned on assembling the cars in Puerto Rico. However, the Irish government offered him financial inventives to start a factory in Ireland.
Located in a suburb of Belfast, the factory had issues from the start. The factory’s opening ceremony attracted IRA protestors, who disrupted the proceedings by hurling Molotov cocktails over the fence. After the first batch of 75 cars, DeLorean realized build quality was going to be absymal, so he set up finishing facilities on the East and West coast. Over time, the work force at the DMC factory became more competent, but there were still manufactoring issues that would continue until the car’s demise.
The fledgling car company went bust in 1982 amid financial troubles and DeLorean’s arrest for cocaine smuggling. An estimated 9,000 cars were sold before the collapse, and today they remain popular collector cars.
This car made no bones about being Irish, as evidenced by the obvious name. Built as a partnership by two American businessmen, the Shamrock borrowed heavily from the Ausin A55, using its 1.5 liter powerplant and suspension. The car utilized a two-door bodystyle, with both a retractable cloth top and a removable hard top.
The Shamrock’s owners had high hopes for the car, with plans for producing 10,000 units a year and exporting them to America to compete with the Big Three on their own turf.
The car itself was a fascinating concept, however the design was severely flawed and these issues ultimately doomed the Shamrock. Around ten examples were made before the head honchos decided to stop the endeavour. The remaining parts were dumped into nearby Lough Muckno. Today, around 7 examples still exist, including this one that was featured in Autoweek.
The Thompson Motor Company, based out of Wexford, Ireland was well known in 1980s racing circles for their lighweight Costin roadster. Like Caterham and Westfield, the Costin was loosely based on the Lotus Seven. The car was built by TMC from 1982 to 1987, however only 39 units were finished in that period. In 1988, founder Thomas Costin sold the remaining assets of the company to Daniel Panoz. A rebodied version of the Costin was produced by Panoz beginning in 1992.