HomeThe MarketTupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection

Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection


The Tupelo Automobile Museum in Mississippi will close after 17 years and will sell its nearly 180-car collection at auction in late April 2019. Proceeds from the sale will be used to endow a charitable educational foundation, which was one of the motivating forces for Frank Spain to turn his car collection into a museum in the first place.

“Every nickel will go toward it,” Spain’s widow, Jane, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal newspaper of the proceeds for the auction. “I’m not keeping any of it.”

Tupelo museum, Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection, ClassicCars.com Journal
Auction set for April at Mississippi museum

Frank Spain was a television pioneer. He helped NBC produce its first live news telecasts from locations in Washington, D.C., and later designed TV and microwave relay and color television technologies. He returned to Tupelo to establish its first TV station and to establish TV microwave relay facilities across a dozen states.

Spain, who died in 2006, also assembled an outstanding car collection and in 2002 opened the Tupelo museum. Among the museum’s collection are a 1948 Tucker (No. 1028) used in speed trials at Indianapolis.

While the museum is endowed with money generated by the sale of 1,200 acres that Spain owned in Southern California, Jane Spain said that at age 66, she and a group of volunteers no longer can maintain museum operations.

“The purpose of all of this was to preserve the cars and to provide grants for educational purposes,” she told the Daily Journal. “I’ve come to terms with letting the collection go. Every nickel that has come into this building has gone toward operations, but now every nickel will go into an educational fund. It’s all going to a continuing purpose and I’m excited about that.”

The deaccession sale is scheduled for April 25-27 and will be conducted by Bonhams, which was introduced to the museum by classic car collector and television-show host Wayne Carini. The museum remains open daily until closing a few weeks before the auction.

’50s-style dealership theme for North Carolina museum building

Tupelo museum, Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection, ClassicCars.com Journal
Earl Congdon’s 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible will be part of the exhibit in the new building at the North Carolina Transportation Museum | Old Dominion photos

In 1983, the North Carolina Transportation Museum opened its inaugural exhibit at Spencer Shops, which formerly served as the Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive service center. Through the years, the museum expanded into more of the 60-acre site. Earlier this week, a new building was dedicated and, when finished and furnished in about a year, will look like a 1950s-era new car dealership.

Among the vehicles to be showcased in the new building is Earl Congdon’s 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible, which seems fitting since the building honors brothers Earl and Jack Congdon and their contributions to the transportation industry. 

Tupelo museum, Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection, ClassicCars.com Journal
David and Earl Congdon and one of the vintage Old Dominion trucks

In 1934, the Congdons’ parents, Earl and Lillian Congdon founded the Old Dominion Freight Line, running a single truck between Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia. The brothers succeeded their parents and Old Dominion has grown into a global enterprise with nearly 20,000 employees. 

The Congdon family is responsible for the new building at the North Carolina museum, where a trio of vintage OD vehicles already are on display at a facility that includes a train depot, 37-bay roundhouse and other buildings where it displays locomotives (one of which pulls visitors on a 25-minute ride around the 60-acre grounds), as well as vintage cars and trucks, and other transport vehicles.

The museum is located in Spencer, less than 50 miles northeast of Charlotte and just off I-85.

Tupelo museum, Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection, ClassicCars.com Journal
License plate honors Studebaker | Studebaker National Museum photo

Indiana offers special Studebaker license plates

Beginning January 1, 2019, people registering a vehicle in the state of Indiana can opt for the special Studebaker plate featuring the historic car company’s “red ball” logo. Those purchasing the plate also will be providing $25 to the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend.

By the way, the plate is good on any vehicle; you don’t have to be driving a  vintage Studebaker to help support the museum.

For details, visit the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.

Indiana offers a variety of special plates, including one benefiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. 

Beaulieu sets lecture series on pioneers and adventurers

Pioneers and adventurers is the theme of the spring lecture series at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, where the program begins January 12, 2019, with a showing of Spitfire, a cinematic account of the British fighter aircraft with British Film Company founder Steve Milne and co-directors David Fairhead and Anthony Palmer.

Other presentations include:

January 26, Charles Rolls and Britain’s first international aviation meeting presented by Stephen Robson, chairman of the Charles Rolls Memorial Trust.

February 16: Across Africa and Beyond: the Incredible Story of the 1988 London-Sydney Vintage Rally, with Paul Davies and James Wheildon recounting their 10,000-mile journey in a 1930 Talbot tourer they bought as a wreck and restored for the rally.

March 9, Steph Jeavons talks about her solo around-the-world journey o a 250cc Honda motorcycle, on which she traveled 74,000 miles, visiting 7 continents and 53 countries.

April 5, Automotive historian and author Karl Ludvigsen presents Cars and Stars.

April 13 and 27, museum manager and chief engineer Doug Hill leads an Under the Bonnet tours of the museum collection.  

2019 exhibit, programs set at British Motor Museum 

A two-hour drive north from Beaulieu is Gaydon and the British Motor Museum, where the 2019 calendar includes a new exhibit and more than 16 car shows.

“The Car. The Future. Me” is the title of an exhibit scheduled to pen July 13 to explore “futuristic car design and (to) challenge your idea of how we will interact with the cars for the future,” the museum said. 

Event highlights include the 60th anniversary of the Mini, the annual Land Rover Show, the National BMW Festival, the Vintage Motor  Club Banbury Run, the BMC & Leyland show, the Old Ford Rally, the Buses Festival, and others. A complete scheduled is available on the museum website.

Tupelo museum, Tupelo museum sets auction to sell its collection, ClassicCars.com Journal
Ferrari Museum celebrates Michael Schumacher’s 50th birthday | Museum photo

‘Michael 50’ exhibit opens January 3 at Ferrari Museum

A special exhibit celebrating the 50th birthday of former Ferrari racing star Michael Schumacher opens on that date, January 3, 2019, at the Ferrari Museum in Italy.

Staged in collaboration with the Keep Fighting Foundation, the exhibit will be staged in several rooms of the museum and will look at his racing career and his involvement in developing Ferrari cars for the roads as well.

Bicester Heritage plans expansion

Bicester Heritage, the former British Royal Air Force base turned into a collector car center, has outgrown its existing buildings and announced plans for a “new technical site” with eight new buildings. The facility said the new buildings will provide 70,000 square feet of space and will be designed to fit with the historic architecture of the former military base.

Bicester Heritage previously announced plans for a 344-bedroom hotel and conference center on the site. 

Special events this weekend

The Saratoga Automobile Museum in upstate New York will host a “Trim the Trunk” contest from 2 to 4 p.m. on December 21. The museum invites visitors to turn the trunks (or pickup beds) of their vehicles into holiday displays with lights and holiday decorations.

On December 22, America On Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, offers “Ice Cream with Santa” from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and a “Sweet Surprise Day” of sugar-cone decorating at 3 p.m. on December 23.

On December 22 and 23, the NASCAR Hall of Fame museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosts “Breakfast with Santa” from 8:30 until 10:30 a.m.

The 1930 Ernie’s GMC Taxi from It’s a Wonderful Life, the beloved 1946 holiday movie, remains on display at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, through February 2019.

Fioravanti exhibit extended to January 6, 2019

Because of the popularity of the exhibit, Rosso Fioravanti, featuring vehicles designed by Leonardo Fioravanti, creator of more Ferraris than any other designer, has been extended until January 6, 2019, at the Museo Nazionale del’Automobile in Torino, Italy.

Mark your calendar

From December 26-28, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will offer guided tours three times a day, and a tech talk and car demonstration at 12:30 p.m.

The Museo Nazionale del’Automobile in Torino, Italy, starts a third Saturday of the month “Asphalt and Star Dust” tour on December 29 featuring cars that have appeared on the big screen.

On December 29, America On Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, stages a “Big Dipper Family & Friends New Year’s Eve Party” from noon until 3 p.m.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts “Ring in the New Year” starting at 9 p.m. on December 31.

The special “Louis to Le Mans” exhibit at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, closes on January 4, 2019. It opens its “From Gas Station to Space Station: How NASA Conquered Low-Earth Orbit” exhibit in that same space on January 14.

A special cruise-in and tribute are planned for January 5-6, 2019, as the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles honors the late Carroll Shelby’s birthday. The tribute begins at 6:30 p.m. on January 5 with the cruise-in starting the following day at 9 a.m.

On January 12, the British Motor Museum hosts the Historic Rally Car Register Open Day and a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the British Motor Corp. Mini. The special event runs from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Another “Legends of Racing History” event is scheduled January 17, 2019, at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California, where a reception from 11 a.m. until 1 pm. will celebrate the display of the 1954 Sutton Jaguar.

“The Goodwood Story” will be presented February 2, 2019, as part of the speaker series at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, where Harry Sherrard, who was involved in the revival of racing at the Goodwood Estate, will discuss Goodwood’s history, from the founding of the Dukedom of Richmond in 1672 by King Charles II to the estate’s history with the Royal Air Ford and the current Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed. 

In conjunction with the February 16-24 school holiday in England, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu will host a Hands-on Half-Term event featuring its Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 Years exhibit with students invited to make like Caractacus Potts and create their own balloon cars and then see how fast they’ll go.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, opens a special “RCR 50 : Only in America” exhibit featuring 50 years of Richard Childress Racing in May, 2019. 

On August 3, 2019, the British Motor Museum will be the site of the Classic Mini Mosaic world-record attempt that is expected to draw more than 600 classic Minis. The following day the museum will be the site of the National Metro & Mini Show.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has opened registration of its Museum In Motion trip to the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 2019. The dates are June 6-17, 2019, and the trip includes four nights in London and three nights in Paris.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Please inform me of how to gt on your mailing list for copies of your magazine > I was the President and Co Founder of the Keels and Wheels Concours Show for 15 years .. Board Member of The Concours of Texas Show… A Board member of the AACA Gulf Coast Chapter,… member of the Triumph Car Club…, Early Ford V8 Club Member,… President and Co Founder of the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter Lincoln and Continental Owners Club, Nash and Metropolitan Owners Club…and a member of the Alvis Motoring and Standard Motor Clubs.. an invited guest on the radio station here.. In Wheel Time Show. I really like your on line information on what events calendar. Thank you very much Ron Stein Houston Texas.


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