By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
‘Staycations’ replace Education for summer
Like its student and teacher subjects, the Daily Journal’s Monday education page is taking a summer break.
Today in its place we begin a weekly series on interesting places to visit on day trips, or “staycations,” in Northeast Mississippi with a look at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.
The Monday series will run through Aug. 13 and the Education page will resume Aug. 20.
TUPELO – When a 1948 Tucker Torpedo sold at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., in January for $2.65 million, the executive director at the Tupelo Automobile Museum was paying close attention.
Among the inventory of more than 100 antique, classic and collectible vehicles in the collection that curator Allen McDaniel looks after is a 1948 Tucker, number 28 of only 51 that were ever built.
“Our visitors are impressed by the size of the building, but really don’t know what they’ll find inside,” McDaniel said. “They didn’t expect a museum of this size and quality in a little town like Tupelo, Mississippi.”
The Tucker Car Corporation and the Tucker Torpedo – later called the Tucker Sedan – were created through the vision of Preston Tucker in Chicago. None of his 51 vehicles were ever sold, and the 48 Tuckers in existence today are held in private collections or by museums.
A number of other vehicles in the collection stand out.
Located in the city of Elvis’ birth, it’s natural that one car in the collection have an Elvis link.
“A 1976 blue Lincoln was a gift to the chief of police in Denver,” McDaniel said.
The car is prominently displayed near a front wall covered with 33 original Elvis movie posters and a photo of Elvis handing the keys to its new owner, Chief Jerry Kennedy.
The museum was founded in 2002 as a nonprofit educational foundation with more than 100 vehicles in the personal auto collection of Frank Spain (1927-2006), founder of WTVA television station and a number of other communication interests.
The collection at that time was valued at $6.5 million, but McDaniel said its current value is estimated at $10 million.
The museum isn’t only a static collection of cars, however. Special exhibits have included tractors, Mustangs, muscle cars, Fabulous Fords, convertibles and other themes.
“We started planning special events with exhibits for a week or two and the results have been great,” McDaniel said.
Tupelo Automobile Museum
HOURS OF OPERATION: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 12-4:30
ADMISSION: $10 adults; $5 children 5-12; $9 AAA members, seniors, military; Free, children 4 and under CORVETTE SUMMER: Special exhibit continues through June 30. Called the “True American Sports Car,” the Corvette was introduced in 1953 and has become an American legend.
ADDITIONAL: Available for private functions, corporate receptions, company parties, private group tours and other special events.
INFORMATION: Call (662) 842-4242. For a listing of all the cars in the museum’s collection and other information, visit the website at www.tupeloautomuseum.co