Beautiful bubbles, cheap taxes, blackened nails and understanding spouses. In an age when the combustion engine is seen as an unbearable misfire, we chat with some classic and vintage car owners about the automotive love of a lifetime.
Finding yourself with several vintage cars is a natural evolution from owning the first one. Trevor Mitchell has seen it all.
âMake sure you have storage space for at least eight cars. Let me explain. When you buy an antique or classic car and start using it, you will discover one of two problems, âhe says.
âFirstly, the car is very well restored and has no problems, but you are bored and you want to work on something. So you buy a project car. Alternatively, the first car isn’t as good as you thought it would be, and you think you can do better. So you buy a project car. Now the project will need spare parts.
âSo you look for a donor car and along the way you find another project, a brand completely different from the first car. So this is project number two.
“Do you see where it’s going now?” By taking parts of the donor’s car for project number one, you realize that the donor isn’t too bad and can be restored, so it’s project number three. Another donor is now required. And so on. This is what happened here with my dad 45 years ago, and now he has over 30 restored cars and more waiting, and we have the Kilgarvan Motor Museum. “
Dublin owner David Fitzgerald has a race-ready 1976 Mini Cooper. âI bought my Mini when I was 15 for Â£ 50. It underwent its first restoration very slowly when I was between 18 and 22 years old, âhe says.
âI got it at a decent level, but I had a lot to learn. I worked part time in engine overhaul, motorsport engine building for two summers, one year part time in auto body repair, traditional panel threshing and took a course evening in welding. I have never owned a garage.
This is far from ideal as most classics’ worst enemy is rust, given the Irish climate. âI use blankets in the winter, but without the right blanket you can do more damage than not using any at all. I am currently thinking about building a carport, âhe adds.
âI’ve already spent more than double what the car could be worth and that’s literally hundreds of hours of work myself, leaving out the cost of all the tools. I hate to say it, but unless you have a lot of time and dedication, you’re going to need a good big wallet.
âOf course, it also depends on what make of model you decide to use and how easily parts are available for it.
âBrexit has had a huge effect on British auto parts. Previously, you didn’t have to think much about buying a box full of bits. Now it’s a very different story.
âFor anyone who isn’t at least ‘a bit of a handyman’ this can be overwhelming given the amount of smaller and bigger issues you inevitably run into. Even in the best case scenario, there’s always a list of 5. 10 jobs to be done to both maintain the car and keep it at a certain level.
Barry Patrick imported his 1970 VW Beetle from Tracey, California, USA to his home in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. There was method in what seemed like madness. âI would suggest considering a car from a dry, sunny location. Fifty-year-old cars can be like new rather than falling apart with rust, âhe says.
âThis VW is a rare model of a steel sliding sunroof and still wears its original paint (a little washed out on the roof). It has no rust stains anywhere. It cost me less both to buy it and to ship it to Ireland, than what people are asking for old rusty sheds here. The money saved on the body was spent on repairs to the 2.3 liter engine, so I now have 160 hp instead of the standard 45 hp it was originally (stored) with.
Relatively new to the vintage car scene, Anthony Scott lives in Swords. Her decision to go vintage accelerated the change in her already busy life. âThe car is a 30-year-old S3C TVR handcrafted under 2,000 years old in Blackpool,â he says. âI have been a longtime TVR fan. Large-engined, light, loud, hand-built British sports cars are rare in Ireland. Road taxes killed that.
A strange thing happens when a car turns 30 years old. The road tax falls to 56 â¬ / year, the import is only 200 â¬.
âI did a lot of research, joined the auto club and talked to the regional organizer about cars. I used Facebook and put seller probes, then saw an ad for one in Larne.
âBuying a locked out car is strange and the car was not 30 years old until November. In August 2020 I went to Belfast for a weekend and immediately fell in love when starting the car. He had a nice burble.
Six months later, after having organized a few events, Anthony was entrusted with the management of the TVR automobile club. âSince then we have been to Waterford, Galway, Mayo and Cork. Handcrafting means everything – bolts or loosening, so it’s easy to work on, and the internet is full of information for newbies, changing UJs, manifolds, engine mounts, cats, expansion vessels. He said.
âThe most important thing about owning one is the attention it gets. Roof down – invariably someone will start talking to you saying they love TVR, and the TVR community is fantastic.
Somewhere in Rathdrum, County Wicklow is a garage, and buried under piles of family trash is the 1948 Alvin, car lover and devoted father, Paul Ryan. He describes it as his poor, tragic and neglected treasure. âI wish I had known that my wife was lying when she said that if I agreed to have children, she would take care of most of the parenting. The Alvins have been hiding in this hangar since my first child came home from the hospital 10 years ago!
Paul, like many owners, had to contend with the family reality of car ownership, supported by Abner Brown who lives in Dublin, with similar twin passions including a 1977 Triumph Spitfire.
âMy advice for newbies is to make sure you have an understanding wife / husband, as well as a bottomless money pit. Never expect to get to this destination without breaking down. Yet when all goes well, you’ll be smiling the whole way, âhe says.
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