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Classic Cheshire sports car, once the star of adverts, retires to Lakeland Motor Museum

Chris Lowe, curator at the Lakeland Motor Museum, with the Mazda RX7

A classic 1985 sports car that once starred in adverts for a Cheshire hotel is finally retiring to the Lakeland Motor Museum – after three decades sitting unused in a garage.

The Mazda RX7 Sports Coupe was registered in January 1985, making it nearly 40 years old, but it has just 15,000 miles on the clock and is in mint condition, and an ideal gift to the museum from the family of former owner Sheila Sides.

Sides, a Cheshire hotel owner, drove the car for just six years after buying it new from a Warrington dealer for £10,995.

The new owner loved the car, and even used it as the star of advertising materials for the Highlands Private Hotel, which she ran in Helsby, Cheshire.

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Mazda RX7
The car starred in adverts for The Highlands Private Hotel in the eighties

Unfortunately, the car became too much for her, as her son Chris Sides explained: ““Firstly, she wasn’t very tall and the Mazda had a long bonnet she couldn’t really see over! We partly resolved this with the addition of a cushion to sit on.”

That issue may have been fixed, but there were more to follow: “The car didn’t have power steering either and was very heavy to drive,” Sides went on. “With advancing years, it became too much for her and was used less frequently as the months passed.”

Mazda RX7
Mother and son with the car before it was garaged for good

The car was eventually garaged in 1991, and even when Sheila passed away in 2008, Chris says that his father didn’t have the will to dispose of the long-term tenant of his garage.

Now his father too has passed, and faced with the prospect of keeping the car for another 40 years he decided to take action: “We had visited the Lakeland Motor Museum with my father in his later years and he really enjoyed the visit – so we decided to approach them to see if they might be interested.”

Chris Lowe, curator at the museum, said: “We were delighted to accept the generous offer – and have spent time carefully cleaning and restoring the car before giving it pride of place in the museum.

“It’s a First-Generation 3rd Series RX7 with a twin-rotor Wankel rotary engine. It is in a wonderful condition and is a great addition to our collection. We would like to thank the family for donating such a lovely example of this classic.”

Sides added: “They have done a wonderful job of cleaning it up. We are delighted that it has a new home and that many people will get pleasure from seeing a classic like this in such good condition.”

Mazda RX7
The museum has restored the car to pristine condition before it goes on display

The Mazda joins a collection of over 140 classic cars and motorbikes, automobilia and historical displays at the museum in Backbarrow, Cumbria. Located in the Leven Valley and open seven days a week, the museum says it presents all its exhibits in a social context. It also features a riverside café to relax after a long day socially contextualising twin-rotor Wankel engines.

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