Tupelo Automobile Museum

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[citation needed]

Vehicles at the Tupelo Automobile Museum

Tupelo Automobile Museum is located in Tupelo, Mississippi. This museum has over one hundred cars that date back to 1886. Consisting of the late Frank Spain's personal collection which totals 150 vehicles, the cars range from antique, rare, and celebrity and are displayed in chronological order to illustrate the history of automotive design and innovation. [1]

Museum to close[edit]

Jane Spain’s (Frank's widow) favorite car in the Tupelo Automobile Museum is a 1954 Mercury Sun Valley. Painted a pale yellow, its innovative and distinctive plexiglass panoramic roof allowed passengers to soak up the views.

And that’s what she and her late husband, Frank, did in the late 1990s, when they drove the car from Alaska back to Tupelo. The memories of that trip – even when the car broke down in the Yukon, where they had to wait a few days for parts – are indelibly etched in her mind. “It was an awesome adventure,” she said with a smile. But the Sun Valley, along with the other 177 vehicles in the museum, will be sold at auction in late April, never to be gathered under one roof again. Spain made the bittersweet decision to sell the cars because, after 16 years, it was no longer sustainable to run the museum. Most importantly, she said it was time to do what the construction of the museum was meant to do – fund a charitable educational foundation Frank had envisioned. Proceeds from the sale of the collection – whose value ranges from nearly $10 million to perhaps twice as much or even more – will go to the foundation. “Every nickel will go toward it,” Jane said. “I’m not keeping any of it.” Nor is she keeping any of the cars, despite the many memories and stories that so many of them hold. Not even the beloved Sun Valley. “I have plenty of memories, but you know, if I clung to every memory, I’d keep so many of them and then I’d feel guilty if I didn’t keep this one or that one,” she said. “So my thing is it needs to make more memories – all of them do.” The cars will all find new homes. Some will go to collectors, some will likely go to museums in Europe and elsewhere. But Spain hopes that some of them, like the Sun Valley, will be driven again. “They have sat here, and we took very good care of them, but they need to be out on the road, and they need to start new experiences,” she said. “Most will hopefully go somewhere where somebody will make new memories with them.” The Tupelo Automobile Museum opened on Dec. 7, 2002, and in the spring of 2003, it was officially designated the State of Mississippi automobile museum. Establishing the museum was a 28-year process, beginning when Frank Spain bought his first antique car in 1974. Spain, the television pioneer who started WTVA and who helped develop color technology and other innovations, scoured North America and Europe to find cars for his growing collection. He and then museum curator, Max Berryhill, drove most of them to Tupelo, sometimes breaking down or running out of gas. “We have 178 cars owned by the museum, and 233 cars in the museum on display, some of which are on loan,” he said. “My job is to make sure we have paperwork on everything we have, to document it and transferring titles to the museum since some of that was never done.” And the car collection is indeed impressive. With vehicles from every decade, it includes many rare vehicles, including some that are among only a handful remaining in the world.

Museum at a glance[edit]

Display of a 2014 Toyota Corolla built by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

Located at 1 Otis Boulevard (across from the BancorpSouth Arena) in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi, this automotive museum displays, in the 120,000 sq. ft. facility, over 100 of the 150 car collection. Special interest automotive exhibits supplement the permanent display throughout the year. Vehicles date from 1886 to 2011 and feature rare vehicles such as a '48 Tucker, 1916 Owen Magnetic, 1920 Cord L-29, 1929 Duesenberg Model J, 1937 Lagonda and a large array of 50's, 60's and 70's cars and celebrity vehicles including one purchased by Elvis Presley. The cars are displayed in chronological order to illustrate the progress of automotive design and innovation. The collection is owned by a non-profit educational foundation. The museum is open daily, Monday-Saturday, 9am to 4:30pm and Sundays noon to 4:30pm, and only closed on Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving and Easter days.


The museum has over one hundred cars on display. Some of the cars are: a Tucker 48, an 1899 Knox, a 1964 Leslie, Liberace's Corvette, a never driven Dodge Viper, and a 1976 Lincoln Mark IV. The specially built "Leslie Special" was in the film The Great Race. The 1976 Lincoln Mark IV was once owned by Elvis Presley.[1] The museum also features Hispano-Suizas.[2]


  1. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, Marlo Carter. Mississippi. Guilford: Morris Book, 2007. 34. Print.[citation needed]
  2. ^ "Auto Museums in the Deep South". The New York Times. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2017.

External links[edit]

  • Tupelo Automobile Museum - official site
  • [1] Tupelo Automobile Museum to close, its contents sold to benefit charitable educational foundation

Coordinates: 34°15′32″N 88°41′49″W / 34.25889°N 88.69691°W / 34.25889; -88.69691