Cars owned by Elvis, Liberace are in girl-friendly museum
Sunday, August 07, 2005
LYNN EDGE, For The Birmingham News
Talking about a recent trip to Tupelo with "the girls," I tried to convince some of my friends that going to a car museum really was a fun thing for females to do. They all were of the opinion that car museums are "guy places" and not the sort of thing they would want to check out.
I still think they are wrong. Cars with sleek lines and lots of shimmery chrome are sort of "girlie." And rows and rows of automobiles that glitter in the colors of jewels have to have great "bling, bling" value.
Plus, there's just something sexy about any car that Tony Curtis has sat in.
I found all of that and more at the Tupelo Automobile Museum, a sprawling 120,000-square-foot mecca for lovers of all things automotive. The real wonder of the museum is that, like the motorcycles at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Museum, the collection all belongs to one person.
Antique automobile signs and a replica of an old garage are woven among the more than 100 restored vehicles that fill the massive space.
It's almost more than anyone can take in. Here there's a Duesenberg, there an Auburn. There's an Edsel, a Studebaker, a Pierce Arrow, a Stanley Steamer.
There are cars from the movies, a Tucker and a "Leslie Special" from "The Great Race." There are cars owned by celebrities - Elvis' Lincoln, Liberace's Corvette.
The entire collection, valued at more than $6 million, belongs to Tupelo broadcast executive Frank Spain, who began this pursuit in 1950 with the purchase of a 1937 MGTD.
The new museum has "been a dream come true," he said. "I hope people from all over the world will find their way to Tupelo to enjoy this museum."
It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for 12 and under. Lynn Edge is author of three books on travel in Alabama as well as other books. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO GET THERE
To get to Tupelo, take U.S. 78 West. It is about 141 miles from Birmingham to Tupelo. The museum is one-half block off U.S. 45. Take the Main Street Exit. It is adjacent to Bancorp South Center on Otis Boulevard.
MORE TO SEE AND DO
Tupelo National Battlefield. Located on Tupelo's West Main Street. The small battlefield commemorates the last major engagement of the Civil War in Mississippi. The battle, which raged over two hot July days in 1864, was among the bloodiest in the state. At stake was the Union's ability to keep Nathan Bedford Forrest's corps in north Mississippi and not allow him to disrupt Union Gen.William T. Sherman's March to the Sea. So important was the victory to Sherman that he ordered Smith to make up a force and go out to follow Forrest to the death, if it cost 10,000 lives and breaks the Treasury. The Tupelo National Battlefield is open daily.
Lunch at Carmita's Of Course. The restaurant is set in The Rankin House, where the owners live upstairs and serve their lunch guests downstairs. The food is an eclectic blend of American, Latin American and European with a splash of influences from other countries visited by Carmita, a former Miss Ecuador. Carmita's is open Monday through Friday for lunch only.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
About the Tupelo Automobile Museum, 662-842-4242; www.tupeloautomuseum.com. About Tupelo, 800-533-0611.
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)