As all of us planning to do some green-tinted vomiting later today can tell you, it’s St. Patrick’s day. That’s why I’d like to take a moment to introduce everyone to the DAWB 6, what I think might be the strangest Irish car of all time. That’s saying a lot, because Irish-designed cars aren’t common, but they tend to be unique.
While a good number of cars from many manufacturers have been built in Ireland, both the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland itself, the number of cars uniquely produced in Ireland isn’t big. The most famous one is, of course, the DeLorean, but the Irish have also given us, in quite small numbers, the Shamrock and the TMC Costin.
But today I want to talk about the DAWB 6, and you’ll soon see why. The DAWB 6 was built between 1955 and 1962 in Belfast, Northern Ireland (I know I’ll get comments about using a Northern Irish car, but I really wanted to write about this car), by an engineer named Davy Woods and a motorcycle racer named Artie Bell. That’s where the car gets its name, too, from the combined initials of both men.
According to the placard in front of the car at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, the car was planned for five years, and then took eight years to build, using “the very best bespoke parts.”
Also, the car seems to have been built just because Woods wanted to see if it could be done, and once completed, it was rarely driven, as Woods lost interest. It seems to have been built at the company Woods owned, Belfast Tool & Gauge, and workers there called it “Davy’s Folly.”
So, it’s a one-off, very carefully built and with seemingly no expense spared. It looks very professional and impressive, and feels like a car built by a high-end manufacturer like Aston Martin or something than a one-off built by a strangely driven guy.
The styling is quite striking, and the double glassed-over headlights make the front end feel a little like a Monsters, Inc. version of an Aston Martin DB5 or something. It has pleasing proportions, sleek lines, and nice details like flush door handles.
But what really makes this car the weirdest Irish car I’ve ever seen is under the hood. Here, look for yourself:
What the hell is going on there? If I’m interpreting this right, to me it looks like an inline-6 engine, air cooled, laid down flat with the top of the engine set towards the front of the car. A three-carb intake manifold sits there in the very front. Oh, and it’s transversely mounted, right in front of the front axle.
What the fuck, right? Has there ever been another car, made anywhere, that uses a front-mounted, transverse, air-cooled inline 6 laid flat? This is like the automotive equivalent of unwrapping a burrito and finding that it’s filled with candy corn, sea urchin meat, and Doritos. I mean, it’s all food and you could technically eat it, but who the hell would think of such a combination?
I really like this one-off elegant weirdo. The engine seems motorcycle-inspired, so perhaps that’s the reason, given the background of the founders. I’d love to hear what this thing sounds like, or know what it drives like.
Anyway, happy St.Patrick’s day!