Friday, August 31, 2018

Reviewing & Photographing The Tupelo Automobile Museum in Mississippi

Visiting The Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi

1929 Cord L-29 - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1929 Cord L-29 - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by ©Sylvestermouse
When my husband first suggested we jump off the gorgeous Natchez Trace Parkway to visit a car museum, my thoughts were not pleasant, but I did agree to make the stop.  To my surprise, what we found was a completely different kind of beauty.  I thoroughly enjoyed touring the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi.

It is a different kind of museum than what I normally prefer, but the relics made it well worth my while.   The museum is 12,000 square feet, but it was an easy walking tour thanks to the way the cars are lined up in rows.

I was fascinated by the older cars!  The Tupelo Automobile Museum has over 100 antique cars on display.  Some have been restored, out of necessity, while others appear to have just been well maintained by their owners.  

I especially loved the way the museum was laid out in chronological order.  From the entrance of the museum, we started our tour walking straight ahead with the oldest cars.  However, you could turn left and start with the race cars and take the route backwards to see the newest cars first.

Oh, and lest I forget to tell you, the museum is air-conditioned.  A huge improvement over an outdoor car show.

Reviewing & Photographing The Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo Mississippi
Exterior of the Tupelo Automobile Museum
Sadly, the Tupelo Automobile Museum Closed Down in 2019
Please enjoy the photos from the past!

Photos of The Tupelo Automobile Museum

1904 Reo - Tupelo Automobile Museum - photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1904 Reo
The exterior of the building doesn't begin to reflect or represent what you will see inside!

This collection of cars was originally a private collection owned by Frank Spain.  Mr. Spain decided to build the museum and share his collection with the world.  He had bigger plans for the museum that included a coffee shop for women and possibly a restaurant, but he died before he was able to add them.  I do think having a coffee shop for women, who are often less intrigued by cars than men, was a wonderful idea.  I would have welcomed a break for a sandwich and coke myself and then return to the museum to see what I might have missed on our first pass.

I took lots of pictures at The Tupelo Automobile Museum.  There are audio boxes by the cars that tell some of the history of the cars and interesting facts.  Honestly, I was more interested in looking than listening.  Of course, I was with my own historical scholar and I would much rather hear what he was saying than the recorded voice.

old automobile photos collage

1904 Model D

Unlike the Reo in the photo above, the Model D (below) provided covering for all of it's passengers.  However, the feature that got my attention here was that basket on the side.  This was a fun exercise for my imagination as I considered what would have been stored in that basket.  Perhaps a picnic (food always comes to mind), but then I thought what about the ladies parasols or the gentleman's hats.  Would they really make a provision for parasols or hats?  Why not!  Comfort was obviously a factor.  And, either way, I love the creative covered storage area. 

1904 Model D - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1904 Model D - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

1908 Columbus Firestone

1908 Columbus Firestone - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1908 Firestone Columbus - Side View
1908 Columbus Firestone - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1908 Columbus Firestone - Front View


I was fascinated by the 1908 Columbus Firestone. It is the first time I have ever seen this car. 
I couldn't help but note, if I only saw it from the side, I would have assumed it was a horse drawn carriage. Expensive, yes. Self-propelled automotive? Nope, I wouldn't have recognized that immediately.

1915 Trumbull

The 1915 Trumbull was notable for a totally different reason. It may not be obvious in the photo, but those seats were tiny!  A stark reminder of how much smaller people were in the early 1900's.  

From side to side, I doubt the seat is as wide as a Ferris wheel seat.  There is no question there is less leg room than a Ferris wheel seat.
1915 Trumbull - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1915 Trumbull

1912 Carter Car

This is one you would not want to miss!  At first, it did not grab my eye.  However, once I heard the history of the Carter Car - 4 Door, Model R, I was mystified by this car.  This is 1 of 6 known to exist! 

1912 Carter Car - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1912 Carter Car - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


The 1917 Pierce Arrow

The Pierce Arrow design appealed to me greatly.  I hated to move on past it.  What a difference a few years can make when truly creative geniuses are at work.  

Needless to say, I have expensive tastes.  The 1917 Pierce Arrow originally sold for $6,500.  Compare that to the 1915 Trumbull (shown above) that originally sold for $425.  Yes, I am still laughing, but I would love to own a Pierce Arrow, even today.  But, I would only sit in it in an enclosed garage.  I would never want the sun to touch that beauty and definitely not the rain!

1917 Pierce Arrow - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
1917 Pierce Arrow - Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

1923 Brewster

Take a look at the interior of the 1923 Brewster.  The front seat was leather, while the back seats were cloth.  The window between the driver and passengers could only be opened by a passenger, thus the reason for the "speaking tube" intercom.

1923 Brewster - Photo by Sylvestermouse
1923 Brewster - Photo by Sylvestermouse
1923 Brewster - Photo by Sylvestermouse
Brewster - Photo by Sylvestermouse

1927 Ford Model T

When we reached the Ford Model T, I felt I was in more familiar territory, simply because I have heard of a Model T before.  I have never ridden in one and it is considerably older than I am.  Yet, it looks like it is in a lot better condition.

Ford Model T - Photo by Sylvestermouse
Ford Model T - Photo by Sylvestermouse

Clearly with over 100 cars, I can't show you all of them.  If you like the cars featured in this article, you should definitely visit the Tupelo Automobile Museum.  There are dozens more that are just as beautiful and just as interesting as the ones I have shared.  You will note that I focused on cars from the first quarter of the century, but there are decades of cars that followed and are on display in the museum.

Inside the Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Sylvestermouse
Inside the Tupelo Automobile Museum - Photo by Sylvestermouse

The Gift Shop in the Tupelo Automobile Museum

For those of you who really are not interested in looking at the cars, or who have seen all you wish to see long before your partner has, there is a huge gift shop.  It is beautifully arranged and full of wonderful gift or souvenir items.

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  1. I've stayed overnight in Tupelo, MS several times on travel trips to visit family and never knew this auto museum was there. I know of a couple car enthusiasts who would truly enjoy touring this museum. I've been to several 'car shows' outside and would welcome an indoor air conditioned tour. Most outstanding photos, Cynthia Sylvestermouse. Thanks for the peek inside the Tupelo Automobile Museum.

  2. What a fantastic collection for sure. I have never heard of any of these cars with the exception of the Model-T. Loved your tour of this museum and your pictures are outstanding.

  3. Wow, I never knew a place like this existed. Now I need to make a big road trip and see this for myself. I love old cars and the history that goes with them. Imagine being one of the few people in town who could afford an automobile and then be riding about in it. Oh.....just let me close my eyes and imagine. What a great experience this would be for so many people. Thanks for putting it on the map for me!

  4. WOW, great photos! Very interesting review. The cars in the early 1900's look like bicycles lol. It would certainly make it fun to tour the building with the cars being presented in chronological order so that you can see the changes as time goes by. Just think, at some point, a flying car will be added to this museum! How crazy is that? Incredible changes in the last 100 years on just about everything.


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