Ford collector Michael Rigney tells Jessica Casey about his passion for the brand and the one ultra-rare motor that is missing from his remarkable line-up of classics.
Car enthusiast Michael Rigney is very particular when it comes to his amazing collection of vintage vehicles.
It’s a case of him taking on any make... as long as it’s Ford!
He paraded 26 of his favourites for our photograph here — and there were many more recent ones which didn’t make the final cut!
Michael, who has been collecting and refurbishing Ford cars, vans and trucks in Dungourney in East Cork for more than 40 years, purchased his first van in 1975.
“It’s a lifetime job,” he says.
His father opened the family garage in 1931 and today, Michael and his brother Pat run Rigney Brothers, where they buy and sell and service cars, as well as specialising in restoring classics.
“It was all Fords at that time, and I worked in a Ford van dealership at one time,” says Michael. “My father had a lot of old cars and there were a lot of Fords long ago.
“Some fellow will say, ‘I’ve such a thing’ and, you know, I’ll say that’s a very rare car and I should buy it. Next thing, the collection just grew like that. We’ll pick them up here and there.”
“My father was here and he had some very fine cars. He died young and all the cars had no value at that time,” adds Michael.
Apart from the Model T, his favourite vehicle in his collection is the 1906 Model N, which he says is the only one in Ireland. He is pictured on it with wife Joan on the right.
“When the lads were small, they all travelled in it,” he says.
Mr Rigney’s four sons, Damien, Paul, Aiden and Micheál, all share their father’s passion for collecting and restoring Fords.
The time it takes to restore each car can vary depending on the condition it’s in, he explains. For instance, a bright blue Ford Teardrop from 1937 took six years to refurbish.
“It was a car my father drove at one time and it was very rusty,” he says.
“It was just thrown there. It was what we call a ‘basket-case’.
“They were American cars so the ones that came into Ireland weren’t exactly the same as the American ones so we found it very hard to get the parts.”
After each vehicle is restored, the Rigneys try to paint them as close to their original colour as possible.
“It’s very hard to match them because all the paint now is mixed by computers,” Michael says. “Long ago there was only a bit of black, white and blue.”
The Corkman says one car that he would dearly like to add to his collection is the Model F, an early Ford from 1905. “There’s none in Ireland,” he says.
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