There's vroom at the top - luxury-car sales double as Celtic Tiger goes shopping
A MASERATI, Bentley, or Ferrari is more likely now than ever to grace the front drives of Celtic Tiger homes, with the number of luxury cars on our roads having doubled in just 12 months.
Sales of some of the most expensive marques in the world have surged in this country, with official figures showing we now have 25 Maseratis (there were just 12 on the road here in 2004), 72 Bentleys (33 in 2004), and 38 Ferraris, compared with 20 two years ago.
The number of Land Rovers has also risen by 50pc, from 3,083 to 4,556 at the end of 2005. We have 27 Rolls-Royces on our roads, but this is only one more than in 2004.
These luxury cars have become the must-have accessory for the cubs of the Celtic Tiger.
Bono was recently pictured at the U2 Dublin studios in a Maserati. Members of Westlife and novelist Marion Keyes have also moved into top gear in Ferraris and Maseratis, while impressario Louis Walsh has been spotted in a Bentley.
According to the Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics, published today by the department of the environment, the number of top-end luxury cars on our roads doubled between 2004 and 2005.
But they do not come cheap. A new Ferrari can cost between ?295,000 and ?315,000, depending on the specification.
That Maserati will cost between ?146,000 and ?180,000, while the Bentley comes in at ?295,000 to ?395,000.
The more modest Porsche can be got for a snip at ?85,000, but the top-end model can cost ?210,000.
At the bottom of the scale there are just three Robin Reliants - the car of loveable sitcom character Del Boy - one Humber, six Yugos, 32 Triumphs, 20 Tatas, three Talbots and 22 Ladas.
Des Cullen, managing director of Des Cullen Motors in Sandyford, Dublin, says the increase in top-end luxury cars is the result of increased wealth.
"There's more money than ever before out there. And people are spending it. Just look at the building boom. I counted 14 cranes outside here," he said from his office. The increase in the numbers of luxury cars coincided with an explosion in the number of new cars in general. There was a sharp rise in the number of private cars - from 1,582,800 in 2004 to 1,662,200 last year.
Some 219,300 new vehicles and 61,300 imported used cars were licensed.
Car dealers put the boom in car numbers in general down to the extra wealth generated by the Celtic Tiger economy.
Toyota had the most cars on the road, at 225,652, followed by Ford with 186,004 and Nissan with 164,450.