Again an auto museum has to close and sell its collection. The Tupelo Automobile Museum was founded in 2002 and had a collection of around 170 vehicles.
What is it with auto museums that makes them close one after the other? We’ve had several museums closing the past few years and it seems there is no end to it. Now it’s the Tupelo Auto Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi USA. This museum was founded by broadcast entrepreneur Frank K. Spain, who had been collecting cars since 1974. In 2006, Spain passed away and his wife Jane acted as curator of the museum. But by the end of last year, the decision was made to close the museum.
1899 Knox Porcupine
Frank Spain, together with his friend Max Berryhill, had built a huge collection of cars over the years. When it became too big to be stored as a whole, Spain came up with the plan to start a museum in his hometown Tupelo and it opened in 2002. There are many cars from the brass era in the collection, the oldest car being an 1899 Knox Porcupine and there is also a replica of the 1886 Benz. The collection of the museum holds over 170 vehicles.
Here’s how you were welcomed in 2012:
On March 29 2019, the museum was closed, and on April 27 the collection will be sold by auction house Bonhams. After 16 years the museum could not make ends meet. “The younger generation doesn’t quite have the fascination with cars as some of the previous and as attendance drew down”, said Stephen Mancuso, director of collections, to WCBI.
In the collection are some high-profile cars, like the beige Tucker. It is number #1048 and it is one of seven cars that Tucker used for endurance testing on the Indianapolis Speedway, it drove 2,931 miles there. The Tucker is estimated by Bonhams at USD 1,250,000 to 2,000,000.
Another eye-catcher is the 1934 Duesenberg Model J with Prince of Wales Berline bodywork by Rollston. This remarkable car is estimated at USD 500,000 to 600,000.
From the brass-era, there are several cyclecars in the collection, like the 1914 Trumbull and the Saxon of the same year. Also from 1914 is a Kimball-bodied Peerless town car. The remarkable thing about this car is that the engine is a huge Ahrens-Fox J-engine, and it has probably been owned by the Ahrens-Fox fire-engine factory.
Some long forgotten makes are in this collection, like Martin Wasp, Apperson, Owen and Knox. From more modern days there are cars like the British 1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster and an Allard M-series Drophead Coupé of the same year, the very pink 1951 Studebaker Starlight Coupé and the 1967 Citroën 2CV. So it is quite an eclectic collection, there’s something in it for everyone.
Some years ago, the value of the entire collection was valued at around USD 10 million, we’ll see what the outcome of the auction will be. The proceeds of the sale will go towards an educational fund which was also founded by Frank Spain. All cars are to be sold without reserve.