A NEW car museum is opening in Taunton town centre next month.

County Classics Motor Museum is revving up to welcome its first visitors from Monday, November 20, in a historic department store building dating from 1836.

The grand opening will be carried out in front of invited guests and local dignitaries by TV star and petrolhead Richard Hammond.

Entry to members of the public will be from the following day (Tuesday, November 21).

The personal passion of local businessman Patrick Hawkins, a true car enthusiast who has sunk his life savings into converting the former County Stores into a car museum, it is focussed on affordable and accessible cars and motorcycles, mostly from the 1960s to the 1990s.

READ MORE: County Stores closes after almost 200 years.

Beautifully detailed and featuring a café and small shop, the Tardis-like building extends 110 meres back from the street front over two floors to house around 100 cars and 80 motorcycles – and an aeroplane.

Vehicles are from Pat's own collection and loaned by local enthusiasts.

Pat's life story could be titled Against All Odds, as he started from nothing, buying and selling his first car at the age of 11.

He built a highly successful car sales business, with tyre wholesale and retail, owning 13 garages by the age of 36.

READ MORE: Plans to open car museum - before Covid struck.

Having spent almost all his life in Taunton, he saw the museum as a way he could help breathe life back into the town centre, as it began to suffer from the exodus of shops that has hit so many towns and cities in recent years.

Covid and lockdowns made his task massively more difficult, as materials quadrupled in price and tradesmen became ever harder to find.

The conversion took two years longer than planned – the reward for visitors is that the museum is now completely furnished and finished, with delightful details at every turn.

The museum website goes live at the end of October, when it will then be possible to book tickets in advance, on www.countyclassicsmotormuseum.co.uk while the museum can also be contacted on 01823 253777.