My photographer fixed me with a quizzical gaze as he shouted above the din of revving engines.
“I thought you were only expecting ten old Fords here today!”
“I was!” I yelled back. “But it seems word got round and... jeez, there must be 30 here at least!”
While Larry got on with the tricky job of herding together as many of the classic Fords and their owners as he could, I got to chat to some of the motorists and found out about their passion for their vehicles.
I had got in touch with Muskerry Veteran Vintage Car & Tractor Club before Christmas and informed them of my aim of meeting some of their members who drive Fords, to mark the centenary of the company in Ireland.
Luckily, they had a Car and Coffee meeting booked at the Abbey Hotel in Ballyvourney early in the new year and put word around to their Ford owners that we were keen to see them.
On a grey and drizzly old morning, the turn-out exceeded all expectations. These were men — and I can safely use that gender specific description without fear of offending — who were mad about their motor, passionate about their pride and joy.
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Among them was Cormac Daly, of Kanturk, chairman of the Cortina Owners Club of Ireland, who had brought along his Mark IV Ghia.
The Cortina was built from 1962 to 1982 and picking a favourite of the five marks was like picking a favourite child for Cormac. “I have no favourites,” he said.
Cormac worked for years at the Dunlop factory on the Marina and for a car enthusiast like him, it was like a child being next to a sweet shop.
“I would rather have worked for Ford,” he said, “but I didn’t have the specific skills required.
“There was no security between the two factories and I used to wander in and have a look at the cars.”
Many of the old vehicles at the Car and Coffee event were high-specification, such as Vincent O’Mahony’s 1963 Mark 1 Ford Consul Cortina 150D Super, with twin chrome side strips. “It’s very comfortable to drive and has lots of power,” commented Vincent, from Milltown in North Cork.
The only non-car among the group was a fabulous Ford Ten pick-up truck, which had been bought from Kellehers in Macroom in 1956 for £445.
It was used locally to deliver milk to the creamery and gifted to current owner Denis Twomey by his neighbour in 1983.
The oldest vehicle on view was a gleaming red and extremely rare Ford Model B, perhaps the only one in all of Ireland and Britain.
Owner Con Griffin, from Rylane, Co. Cork, bought it three years ago and restoring it has proved a labour of love for the 73-year-old.
“It was made in 1932 and the Yanks actually called it ‘The 32’,” explained Con. “It was originally owned by a County Down man who owned the first cinema in Cork.
“It has three gears, first, second and what was known as ‘Top’, as well as a reverse.”
Con has had to call on expert engineers in Cork to restore the engine, and even obtained some parts from a specialist in New York.
Some of the owners’ stories had an air of poignancy.
Michael O’Sullivan brought along his 1969 Mk 2 Cortina 1600E and explained: “I always wanted a Cortina as a lad but couldn’t afford one — I ended up getting an Anglia.”
But the 53-year-old from Kanturk finally realised his teenage dream 10 years ago when he got to purchase the 1969 model.
Just about every Ford make was on show that day — Corsairs, Sierras. Capris, Zephyrs and Zodiacs, many of them made in Cork.
However, John O’Sullivan, a former Cork Ford worker, from Freemount in North Cork, explained that his Mk IV 1977 Cortina must have been made in England, as it was an automatic and they were not made in Cork.