If cars could talk – behind every classic, there’s a story


For €2.3million, you’d think an Aston Martin DB5 would have all the gadgets and modifications that famously adorn James Bond’s cars. Alas, this is not the case. But for any 007 super-fan, the 2022 auction of Sean Connery’s DB5 presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Everyone is drawn to a particular classic for a different reason. Whether a personal connection or nostalgia, every classic car has a story behind it. 

Many of these stories are lost to us – but here are a few that we do know.

How Ireland’s first car came home

The first petrol-powered car driven in Ireland had been lost for nearly 80 years – until one vintage car enthusiast stumbled across it.

The German-manufactured Benz Velo Comfortable was imported to Dublin in 1896 by Dr John Colohan, a medical practitioner who owned The Grand Hotel in Malahide. With a top speed of 16mph, the doctor caught the public’s attention by travelling 130 miles from Dublin to Galway in 12 hours.

Scrapped in 1907, the car was presumed lost forever. In 1984, however, it was discovered after Mercedes-Benz employee Denis Dowdall made a chance visit to a Kilkenny farm. Despite the Victorian-era vehicle being in a terrible state, Dowdall was able to bring the car back to life.

Restored to its former glory, the Benz Velo returned to the residence of its original owner in 2013, taking pride of place at a vintage car show in the grounds of The Grand Hotel.

Ireland and Ford: a special relationship?

Many Irish vintage car clubs are dedicated to preserving vehicles produced by the American motor giant Ford. Why is this brand from across the Atlantic held in such affection?

In 1917, the American industrialist Henry Ford chose his ancestral home of Marina, Cork to build the first purpose-built Ford factory outside of North America.

Offering £5 a week for 40 hours work, the factory soon became an integral part of Cork’s economy, employing 15% of the workforce by 1923.

The factory was a source of pride for the community, surviving political turbulence and tariffs, and provided a livelihood for many generations of Irish workers and their families. The people of Ireland returned the favour, with Fords accounting for at least a third of all cars on the road well into the 1960s.

By the time the factory closed in 1984, it had produced some of Ford’s most iconic cars, including the Model T, Escort, and Prefect.

The ‘rarest car in Ireland’

Although Ireland is not renowned for its home-grown cars, there is one such 1960s creation that has since become a coveted collector’s item.

Struck by the poverty he saw while visiting Ireland in 1958, the Irish-American coffee pot manufacturer Wilbur Curtis devised a plan to help: he would manufacture a luxury car in Ireland and export it to the diaspora across the Atlantic.

Marketed as Ireland’s answer to the Ford Thunderbird, the Shamrock was to be built in a huge factory in Castleblaney. However, the car went down badly with the Americans and failed to generate the pre-orders Curtis expected. Production stopped in 1960 after producing just ten models.

The factory was shuttered and, in what was not the most environmentally friendly move, the remaining parts were hurled into the Muckno Lake.

Most of the cars were dispersed around Ireland. Although at least one did eventually make its way to America – a green Shamrock often takes part in California’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

Only nine are now believed to remain. Consider yourself lucky if you spot one at a classic car show this year!

Classic cars need quality insurance

Preserving old cars is often a labour of love for their owners. They are frequently restored at a substantial cost and must be meticulously maintained.

Your client needs quality insurance to give them the peace of mind that their car is protected.

If your client insures their everyday car through DUAL’s Private Motor policy, cover is also available for any classic cars they own, from class A to class H.

DUAL considers cars classic after 20 years, far earlier than many insurers. So, your client can enjoy the same benefits of classic car insurance when insuring a modern classic.

Like all cars insured under our Private Motor policy, we offer agreed value settlements for classic cars.

Classic cars often need replacement components to keep them at their best. DUAL is a helpful partner here, too. We offer unlimited cover for glass, keys and locks, and accessories.

Our Private Motor policy also includes wedding hire for classic cars, and fully comprehensive cover to drive other vehicles for all named drivers.

For quality classic car insurance, speak to DUAL.

Shauna Fogarty is an Underwriter for DUAL Underwriting Ireland DAC. DUAL specialise, amongst other areas, in high net worth personal insurance in Ireland and are backed by Aviva. DUAL Underwriting Ireland DAC (trading as DUAL Private Client) is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered No. 633531. Registered office: 98 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 D02 V324.