Cars of Ireland: The Shamrock and the Costin
Since everyone’s Irish today, let’s take a moment and remember the cars that were built on the green isle. The first one to come to mind, and the most successful car assembled in Ireland, was the DeLorean DMC-12. Regardless of the fact that the DeLorean is also a time machine, it sold only about 8,500 copies before the company shut down.
Yes, believe it or not, it’s possible to discuss Ireland’s car industry without mentioning the DeLorean. The country certainly isn’t known for its auto industry, which today is non-existent, but a couple of interesting little automotive gems existed there in the past.
Good luck finding one today, though.
Shamrock (pictured above)
The dream was simple: Build a large luxury sports convertible in Ireland and ship to the United States for mass consumption. Internet lore tells us that the Shamrock’s founder, American businessman James Conway, had the ambitious goal of selling 10,000 Shamrocks per year in the States. There were only two problems: Conway forgot to give the car any power and made it impossible to change the tires in the event of a flat.
The engine, a 1.5-liter 55-horsepower 4-cylinder, couldn’t propel the heavy car fast enough for American tastes. Plus, the rear body panels were not removable, and the wheels could be removed only by dropping the rear axle. Ten thousand cars? Nice dream. In reality, 10 Shamrocks were sold in 1959 and 1960, and only one is known to exist in the U.S.
The Costin had a slightly more successful life, enjoying a production run from 1983 to 1987 in Wexford, Ireland. Only 39 cars were built in those few short years, but it spawned another forgotten classic: The Panoz Roadster, which in turn influenced the Plymouth Prowler just a few years later.
If you happen to own a Prowler, drive it proud today, and know your car has some true Irish heritage!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Drive safe, friends.