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Shamrock Motors: The Short-Lived Irish Car Company



A Forgotten Automaker

Typically, when people think of an Irish car company, they think of DeLorean. Yes, technically, it was headquartered in Detroit, and the factory was in Northern Ireland, not the country of Ireland, but that’s still close enough, right? Besides, it’s not like there were ever any other Irish car companies. Except there were, one of which went by the incredibly on-the-nose name Shamrock Motors.

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If you’ve never heard of Shamrock Motors, you’re not alone. An automaker so short-lived that built so few cars isn’t likely to be a household name unless you have some personal connection to the brand. Or if you’re a fan of old Top Gear and remember this segment on Shamrock from all the way back in 2001.

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A Brilliant Plan

As host Andy Wilman explains in the video above, Shamrock’s founder had a brilliant plan. Since so many Irish people had immigrated to the U.S., he would simply build a car in Castleblaney, Ireland and export it to America. When all those Irish immigrants heard they could buy a car from the homeland, they’d flock to the dealership, and he would get rich.

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Quality Concerns

Except it didn’t exactly work out like that. The Shamrock’s body was made out of fiberglass, and the build quality wasn’t exactly what you’d call good. And despite its massive 17-foot length, it was built on a small Austin A55 chassis and powered by a 1.5-liter Austin engine that Hagerty reports made only 53 hp. So it wasn’t exactly quick or nimble.

As the owner says in the video, it’s best to keep the Shamrock under 30 mph. But what do you want to go fast for? It’s a big cruiser inspired by the Ford Thunderbird with a removable hardtop. Just enjoy the drive (and spending your weekends getting it running again).

A Hard Sell

Unfortunately for Shamrock Motors, that was a hard sell in both Ireland and the U.S. American styling on a car built with British parts may as well have been the worst of both worlds, and the demand simply wasn’t there. According to the former employee interviewed by Top Gear, the factory closed down after less than a year. In total, only nine or 10 Shamrocks were ever produced. But hey, it was worth a try.

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