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Ireland’s first motor car comes home to Malahide

The North Dublin village of Malahide is set to go back over 100 years in time when, later this month, the first petrol-driven car ever to run on Irish roads returns to the Grand Hotel which, at the time it was imported into Ireland, was the residence of its owner, medical practitioner Dr. John Colohan.

This unique car, an 1898 Benz Velo Comfortable, will be the centerpiece in an exhibition of classic and vintage cars that takes place in the grounds of the hotel on Sunday, May 19th next.


Manufactured in Germany by Karl Benz, creator of the world’s first motor car, whose enterprise was later to become the Mercedes-Benz company, the vehicle later fell into disrepair only to be discovered in a dilapidated condition on a Co. Kilkenny farm some 20 years ago.

In the intervening period, it was fully restored to its original condition by Dubliner Denis Dowdall who, at that time, was service manager with Mercedes-Benz in Ireland. Through his connections to the German carmaker, Denis was able to secure copies of the original drawings of the vehicle and many of the hand-made parts he required to bring the car back to life.

Now in full working order, the single cylinder ‘horseless carriage’ bears the number IK 52, denoting the fact that it was the fifty-second car to apply for registration after the system was introduced here in the early 1900s.

Returning to Malahide, it will be one of an estimated 90 cars going on display in the grounds of the Grand Hotel as part of a charity fundraising initiative being organized by Malahide Lions Club.

Open to the public from 12 noon until 6pm, the exhibition will feature cars drawn from all parts of the country to create what Malahide Lions Club P.R.O Brian Dooley says will be “a great afternoon of motoring nostalgia and family entertainment.”