A whif of nostalgia, leather, and the odd plume of petrol were in the air when Jane McNamara attended the inaugural Cork International Car Show in the first weekend of April.
The event showcased more than 130 vintage vehicles from all over Ireland and also raised vital funds for the BUMBLEance Children’s Ambulance Service.
It was held at Cork International Hotel near the airport and it is hoped it will become an annual date on the car buff’s calendar.
Not surprisingly, given Cork’s long links with the motor company, there were a host of Ford vehicles on show — from the Model Y and Prefect, to the Anglia and Cortina.
I got to speak to some of the owners about their passions for their vehicles.
“I got the car last year in Belfast. Every weekend I am away with it. Once the summer starts there is something on every weekend.
“My wife and I and our two kids go out in it. My son, Conor, who is 13, washes it and cleans it for me, he absolutely loves it.
“Don’t ever lean against the car! Anyone who does, I send them straight away, and there is definitely no food ever in the car!
“I like any classic car but I love this, it is in excellent condition.
“It can be heavy on petrol but it drives absolutely beautifully and the slower you drive it, the more economical it is.
“It can get up to 80/90 miles an hour — it is still in miles.
“I drive it at the weekend but otherwise it is locked in the garage till the next Sunday.
“Growing up, I would have had a lot of neighbours working in the Ford factory, a lot deceased now. This year is for the Ford, certainly.”
“I bought it about two years ago from a chap who had half done it up. I finished it and have it on the road.
“It is my first vintage car. I remember the Ford factory alright because I worked with CAB motor company back in 1966-1968. I was a gofer! I had to go to the Ford factory to pick up new cars.
“I remember the assembly lines. When I would go in I would go to the office, give over the money and pick up the new car for a costumer. It was interesting there, very busy. At that time the factory was in its full swing. I had Fords back then myself, it was the car of choice, the most popular car in Ireland.
“In the factory everyone had their own individual job. One person was on tyres, one was on electrics, then there were the fellas assembling the gear boxes and engines.
“This Escort was the standard work man’s car of its time. A lot of people drove them and most of mine is original. The radio has FM and the car also has a sunroof and a cigarette lighter, though we don’t use that anymore!
“We take it out two or three times a month to shows. The tax is €56 a year for any car over 30 years old. The insurance for this and my other car is just over €200 a year. You only use it of a Sunday, you see. You go for a day and pay €20 for petrol and maybe an entry fee for a show and a bit of lunch. It is very enjoyable and not an expensive hobby at all.
“There is no comparison to driving a modern car! You don’t have power steering and you don’t have the mod cons. The steering can be quite tough, especially in tight places. Everything you do and use, you have to work for!”
Sean Ryan, Minane Bridge, Cork, 1984 Capri
“I bought it in Cobh six years ago for €2,200 and have spent about €3,000 on it. I got all new tyres, a complete respray, a new pump and changed all the electrics. The battery was new and that’s about it.
“It is handy enough to get parts. I can ring Long Island in New York at half-ten on a Monday night, that’s about half-five their time, and I can have my parts here the following Monday.
“With modern cars, everything is computerised whereas with this, it’s a spanner and that’s it, it is fixed. When you open the bonnet everything is in front of you.
“There is money to be made in this hobby, provided you buy right. But you can also buy a load of trouble, it can be as rotten as a pear! If you want to buy vintage you have to get a mechanic to look at it.
“If we only knew 60 years ago what is going on now. I had Fords lying there, for the dogs and hens to sleep in. The cars rotted and we dug a hole in the ground and threw them in. If we had only kept them, but no-one knew. I sold a Ford last year to a chap in Mitchelstown, a Model Y, for €6,500. When it was new, Henry Ford sold it for £100.”
“I have had the Escort for eight years, she was built in England. It had a mileage of 50,000 and now it’s up to 66,000. The longest journey I made was to and from Portlaoise and there was no problem at all.
“It is my first vintage car and is a nice hobby. I have always loved cars, I was a mechanic and worked in Cork Airport for years. One of the main reasons I went with Ford is because it is easy to get parts.
I take it out at least once a week, driving it really brings you back in time.
“The worst thing you can do is lean up against these cars in a pair of jeans — although if anything the old paint is stronger than this water-based paint they are using now.
“I have all the original interior and the radio. It crackles like mad!”
“I bought it a year ago and brought it to the mechanic, and he showed me the badge underneath which says it was made in the Cork factory.
“I knew someone who worked in the factory, there is still that big connection in Cork.
“I was always interested in vintage cars. I actually learned to drive in one of these Fords, a long, long time ago!
“It took me two years to find this exact model after I decided I wanted it. You have to search for parts, but you get a lot in England.
“When you are driving one of these, it’s like a boat! As we say, they are built like tanks. They will keep going and going, on forever. I don’t open it up on the road but you can do up to 140mph in it.
“Almost everything inside is original. The radio has long wave, but it depends on where you are. I would have to change the radio to get FM and I want to keep it as original as possible. Only for that I would be listening to 96FM all the time!
“I take it out as much as I can. If I could drive it every day I would, but it is mostly the weekends. I am very proud of it and keep it well covered when it is not in use.”
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