Sunday 23 July 2017

Vroom to improve

What better way to flaunt your riches than by buying a flash car — or a fleet of them. John Reynolds on Ireland’s serious car aficionados

Michael Flatley and his Jaguar E-Type.
Michael Flatley and his Jaguar E-Type.
Petrolhead: Andy Ruhan
The Aston Martin DB5
A John Deere tractor

John Reynolds

IF you've made it in business, you've got to have a great set of wheels... or do you?

Last year, The Grand Tour presenter Jeremy Clarkson recalled a visit to the south of France when he had borrowed Bono's very un-cool Opel Zafira people-carrier.

Petrolhead: Andy Ruhan
Petrolhead: Andy Ruhan

Rich Listers' tastes in cars are as varied as you'd expect. When money is no object, they can have pretty much any and every kind of car they want.

But there are a few who really stand out from the rest - the real petrolheads who have exquisite tastes. Among these are Eddie Jordan and Andy Ruhan - Ruhan having competed in a GT Cup at Brands Hatch, while Eddie took part in the BBC's Top Gear last year - own what many car aficionados might regard as the most beautiful car in the world, with its 1960s lines: the E-type Jaguar.

They can cost hundreds of thousands of euros, and a modernised version called the Eagle E-Type will set you back about €800,000.

The other contender for that title is a car some readers may remember from the James Bond film Goldfinger, the Aston Martin DB5 - a very classy automotive beauty. Collectors have been known to pay up to €1.2m for one.

The Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5

Among the wealthy Irish people who are known to have collections of more than a few cars, including many classics, are Michael Flatley, Martin Birrane and Paddy McNally. Flatley had a specially built garage included as part of the restoration of his stunning Castlehyde home in Co Cork which he requested be earthquake-proof.

Mayo man, Mondello Park owner and property tycoon Martin Birrane's collection includes another timeless classic, a Jaguar XK150, as well as some cars from his racing days such as a rare BMW M1 and quite a few faster machines. He recently told the Sunday Independent that he was hoping to treat himself to a Ferrari California.

Dubliner Philip Berber who made millions from day trading firm CyberCorp - as well as starting a charity to build water wells in Ethiopia and now backing social enterprise start-ups - had to build a second garage for his car collection. It includes a rare British-built track car called a Radical and some Ferraris. A Google search reveals a video of him driving a Ferrari 458 Italia around the Circuit of the Americas F1 track in Texas that he helped to set up.

A few successful entrepreneurs, including Gene Murtagh, are fans of Elon Musk's Tesla electric cars. More than one of them own the Model S. One is even rumoured to like them so much that he has three of them; one in Ireland, one in London and one in Europe.

As you'd expect, the Mercedes S-Class is another popular choice. Michael O'Leary famously had a taxi plate on his to ferry him between the Ryanair HQ and his Mullingar home. Alltech founder Dr Pearse Lyons has a souped-up version, the €200,000 S65 AMG, but told us that he prefers a classic VW Beetle that he also owns, which is like the one he used to be taken to school in.

But the tastes of the super-rich are not always predictable. Cavan-born ceiling tile manufacturer Eddie McElhinney might own two Porsche 911RSs, a Bentley and a limited edition Land Rover Defender. But in an interview last year he revealed he'd treated himself to a John Deere tractor and was enjoying it immensely.

Sunday Independent

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