For the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi, these are unfortunate times. Yet for car collectors, this is a chance to own some pretty extraordinary cars.
According to a Hemmings report last December, Bonhams will host a no-reserve sale for the 178 museum-owned lots currently part of the collection. All proceeds will benefit the educational charities of the museum's founder Frank Spain.
Spain owned all of the vehicles headed to auction. He died in 2006, and his wife has continued to operate the museum as curator. Low attendance in recent years meant there was no choice but to cease operations.
The cars are incredibly varied, with the youngest of them being a 1994 Dodge Viper that only shows 12 miles on its odometer and is completely original.
Every car part of the collection is entirely original save for a single replica: one of the oldest automobile known, an 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
Other cars that will head to auction include a Tucker 48, a Duesenberg Model J, a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller, a Lincoln Continental with ties to Elvis Presley, and a Triton Aero Car. On the more familiar side of the collection, there's a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang, 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, 1971 Dodge Challenger, and 1974 Porsche 914.
The museum originally intended to sell all of the cars as one lot, but finding a suitable buyer proved challenging. Thus, the museum made the decision to let each car go without a reserve. A low estimate for the entire collection's worth sits at $7 million, while a high estimate places the cars' collective values at $25 million. Buyers will have the chance to scoop up these obscure and rare machines at the auction, which runs from April 25-27.