Reunited with pride and joy

Ian Etheridge with Steve Hodgson and the car at the Blackpool hot rod show

Ian Etheridge with Steve Hodgson and the car at the Blackpool hot rod show

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Thirty years ago, the custom car which Ian Etheridge lovingly built was his pride and joy.

The stunning vehicle, a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am (Celestial), took pride of place in Blackpool when it won best in show at the Blackpool Hot Rod Custom Car and Bike Show back in the 1970s.

Forced to sell it five years later, and since having suffered a number of health problems, Ian, 75, had long resigned himself to the fact his creation had been scrapped.

But he was stunned when a friend of his managed to track down the car’s current owner - and reunite Ian with it - as it took the stage at the very same show in Blackpool once again.

The car is now owned by Steve Hodgson, 44, after he bought it from Holker Hall museum in Cumbria and spent time restoring it to its best.

Several months ago Steve was contacted by a friend of Ian’s from the car world, who had traced the car back to Steve through the internet.

Steve was displaying the vehicle at the Hod Rod show at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool earlier this month, and Ian and his niece went along to see it – exactly 30 years to the day since it took the winning cup.

Ian, who lives in Stockport, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw it looking very much as it did all those years back.

“I thought it had long been on the scrapheap as I hadn’t seen it since the day it was sold some 25 years ago.

“The idea for the car’s design came to me in a dream and I built it completely from scratch. The painting alone took me a full year.”

Ian said seeing the car again in all its glory had given him a new “lease of life”.

Steve, who lives in Morecambe, said he was thrilled to meet the creator once again.

Ian has now agreed to help Steve restore it to its former glory following its Blackpool appearance.

Both Steve and Ian were given special trophies by Hoyles Promotions, organisers of the Blackpool show.

Owner of Hoyles Promotions Shaun Hoyle said “It was fantastic to see Ian back at the show and it brought a real sense of nostalgia, thinking of all the many characters and enthusiasts who have shown their cars and bikes over the decades.

“He seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and enjoyed many a handshake and pat on the back throughout the afternoon.

“His car certainly was a show stopper then, and thanks to Steve, it still is today.”

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