Automobile museum chief to leave post Sunday

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Allen McDaniel’s six-year tenure as curator of the Tupelo Automobile Museum will come to an end Sunday.
It took about 30 minutes to remove the pictures from his office walls and empty his desk, but the classic car aficionado was just getting started.
“I had 11 cars I had to do something with,” he said. “Some are at friends’ houses, some are at my house. I have some at my business, and I even put a couple up for sale.”
He also had enough “good junk” to fill a 20-feet-by-20-feet storage building. Five friends spent the better part of a day helping him haul that away, and there’s still another truck-full that McDaniel will handle over the weekend.
Once his stuff is cleared out, McDaniel will still leave behind a legacy of bringing cars and car lovers together at the museum.
He’s particularly proud of a series of special exhibits he started to give people new reasons to visit. He went to his friends and asked to borrow their cars to put on display.
“I said, ‘I’ll be responsible for it. It’ll be all right,’” McDaniel said. “My friends, bless their hearts, said ‘OK.’”
Exhibits have featured muscle cars, Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, Pontiacs, tractors, trucks and more.
“The first one we had was the 1957 Chevrolet,” he said. “It was 2007 when I started, and that was the 50th anniversary of the ’57 Chevrolet. This place was filled with fins.”
When the Tupelo resident took the job, his friends thought he would be paid to work on classic cars. Actually, other than occasionally wiping dust off a car or cleaning oil off the floor, he wasn’t responsible for maintaining the cars.
“The big thing was meeting with people. You get to meet people from all over the world, and they all have that same love for old cars, that common denominator,” he said. “They may be from a foreign country and speak very little English, but when they were in here, we could be best buddies with that one thing in common. I really enjoyed that part.”
McDaniel, 64, is co-owner of Copywrite, and he’ll manage the New Albany branch when he leaves the museum.
The change will allow more free time to spend with his 12 grandchildren.
He’ll also see his mother more often since she lives about six miles from the Copywrite office in New Albany. No successor has been named.
“The museum is a great asset to the city of Tupelo. It brings a lot of people to Tupelo,” he said. “It’s just time for me to move on to the next chapter.”
A Corvette exhibit is on display now, and it’ll end Sunday, McDaniel’s last day on the job.
“I’ll help them get their cars out; I’ll wipe up the oil on the floor if there is any; I’ll put my key on the desk,” he said, “and I’ll walk out the back door.”
scott.morris@journalinc.com