SCOTLAND'S leading motor museum, at Doune, west Perthshire, is to close at the end of the season, it was announced yesterday.

The museum's board, chaired by Lord Doune, blamed falling admissions for making the facility unviable.

The museum, which opened in 1970, has seen visitors numbers drop from nearly 50,000 a year in the 1980s to fewer than 30,000.

Director Michael Chapman said Lord Doune was extremely sad about the closure, but the whole board recognised its inevitability.

He said: ''We're not prepared to turn the area into a theme park, which seems to be what people want nowadays.

''The buildings are in a designated landscape, and I don't think the planners would want that in such an attractive skelp of countryside.

''These days the public are looking for more interactive displays, and although museums still appeal to car enthusiasts there aren't enough of them to keep us going.

''We've struggled with this for a number of years. We've consulted with the tourist board, and we've done our best.

''There will be no last-minute reprieve.''

Mr Chapman said the board's decision had been precipitated by the approaching retirement of the manager Jack Asher and his wife Jean, who is in charge of catering.

He said: ''We felt it would be unfair to recruit a new couple, uproot them and install them only to close in a year or so's time.''

The museum is home to around 50 cars, all on loan from private owners, who will now have to find somewhere else to store and maintain their vehicles.

It is described as an intensely personal collection of vintage and post-vintage thoroughbreds.

Some of its exhibits are as old as motoring itself.

The collection ranges from the second oldest Rolls in the world, owned by the Scottish RAC, to a Sinclair C5 - Sir Clive Sinclair's ill-fated electric car.

The closure, effective from November, will mean the loss of three full-time jobs and eight seasonal posts, and it's feared it will also hit local businesses.