Shamrock at RIAC National Classic Car Show
Organisers of the inaugural RIAC National Classic Car Show, supported by AXA Insurance, which takes place this weekend, at the RDS Dublin, has announced that visitors to the show will have the opportunity to see one of the rarest cars ever manufactured in Ireland, the legendary Shamrock.
Bob Montgomery, Event Manager, “The Shamrock is a leading example of our ties to car assembly and our efforts to manufacture our own marques in Ireland. Originally it was planned to produce about 10,000 cars a year from their Irish manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, the project never got that far and I believe that as few as three cars were fully manufactured prior to the company collapsing. Rumour has it that there may be four in existence in the world today and it is a privilege that we will have the only running Shamrock left in Ireland as a feature on the Irish Vintage Scene Magazine Stand at the show.”
William Curtis, a wealthy Irish American industrialist, was said to be shocked by the level of unemployment he witnessed while holidaying in Ireland with his Galway born wife in the early 1950’s. In an effort to give something back to the birth place of his wife he decided to start a car manufacturing business producing a luxury sports car primarily for export to the American market. The original plan to manufacture in Tralee Co Kerry but this was changed when agreement about the expansion of Fenit Harbour to accommodate large car transport ships and the location of the manufacturing plant fell through when negotiations broke down with officials in Kerry. As a result the factory was eventually established at Castleblaney in Monaghan.
The Shamrock was a mixed bag of innovation, styling and impracticality that has given it legendary status in the world of Irish classic cars.
Destined for export the Shamrock was designed and built to attract interest in the American market. At over 17 feet long the car makes an immediate impression. Built using the latest innovations in fibreglass production,
the open top convertible also encapsulated the desire for flair which is evident in the use of the fin-tail styling and the wrap around windscreen that were iconic of the era. The chassis and coil suspension were considered one of the best in use at the time. It was so impressive to look at that the vehicle was lauded for its beauty, styling and sheer elegance by the media at the time.
We are delighted to have the Shamrock as a feature car on our stand. We wanted to show a car with an Irish connection, and even though many people are aware of the Shamrock story, with less than a handful in existence, many have never seen one. The car we have on display has, in the past, made appearances on The Late Late Show and Top Gear, but in recent times has not made many public outings. So, this is a rare chance to see for yourself the legendary, Irish-built Shamrock.
For such a picture perfect car the Shamrock did have a few flaws. The engine, while practical, was considered to be quite underpowered for such a large vehicle competing in the convertible sports car sector of the time. The Impressive looking rear wheel overhangs led to a minor issue of been unable to change the wheel in the case of a puncture without dropping its axle and lowering the suspension first. Not a very realistic option for the casual driver.
Despite these issues the car did receive many plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic and it was suggested that Curtis had an order of 600 cars for the California market at one point but like many Irish car manufacturing efforts financial troubles beset the project and it was finally scrapped in the early sixties. The plant was closed and the unfinished fibreglass bodies and other parts where reportedly dumped into the local Lough Muckno.
Bob Montgomery Continued, “We have an amazing array of vehicles on display at the show and visitors will be left with a fantastic overview of the history of motoring in Ireland from the early 1900’s right up to the more modern day Classics of the last century. Rarities like the Shamrock will leave an impression but I know it is only one highlight amongst many that will delight all who come along.”
For spectacular displays of truly amazing classic cars and entertainment for all the family, visit The RIAC National Classic Car Show Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of February, 2013, open 10am – 6pm each day.