TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s the last weekend for the public to visit one of the largest private automobile collections in the nation.
The Tupelo Automobile Museum will close its doors to the public after Sunday.
On the final Friday it was opened, a class from Heritage Academy looked at the collection, spanning more than 100 years of automobile history.
“I think my grandma used to drive some,” said Dylan Gordon.
Business has been steady since the announcement was made that the automobile museum would close.
The museum was the dream of broadcast entrepreneur Frank Spain, who began collecting cars in 1974. The automobile museum opened in 2002, featuring Spain’s vast collection of more than 170 cars.
There are some rarities, including a 1948 Tucker. Only 51 were made and none were ever sold.
There is also a Dusenberg. But, after more than 16 years, the museum could no longer sustain itself. It will all be auctioned off in late April.
“The public doesn’t exactly visit museums the way they used to, the younger generation doesn’t quite have the fascination with cars as some of the previous and as attendance drew down, the costs don’t change, utility costs, insurance, and all of those things continue on no matter how many people you have walking through the door,” said Stephen Mancuso, director of collections.
The Tucker and Dusenberg are expected to fetch top dollar and whatever the other vehicles bring at auction, all proceeds will go to a non-profit, educational foundation.
“It will not be localized in Tupelo but will offer opportunities for people all over the world,” said Mancuso.
While visitors said it’s sad the museum is closing, it’s good the cars will have new homes and money raised will go to charity.
“I’m very sad, this should be kept together, I mourn the loss of it, collection like this, no one will ever do it again,” said Rev. Arthur Lodge, of Tennessee.
“I’ve really wanted to come and see, but put it off and put it off and seeing it was closing, I said, we got to do this, it’s been great, it’s great seeing all this,” said Tom Hodge of Alabama.
The auction takes place April 25-27.
The building is owned by the Frank Spain Educational Foundation and it will be sold sometime after the auction.
The Tupelo Automobile Museum has extended hours this weekend.