Auto World Museum selected as hidden gem of Callaway County

Anakin Bush/Fulton Sun A 1947 Hudson pickup truck at the Auto World Museum, which general manager Tom Jones said was his favorite car in the collection. The museum has a collection of 150 cars, with about 80 on display. The Auto World Museum is located at 200 Peacock Drive.

The Auto World Museum was recently recognized as a "hidden gem" of Callaway County by Missouri Life magazine.

The May edition of the magazine highlighted a hidden gem in all 114 Missouri counties.

In the magazine, it states that the 18,000-square-foot museum displays "both vintage cars and modern classic cars within a historical context relevant to their particular era."

For Auto World Museum general manager Tom Jones, his journey with the museum has been a long one.

The museum originally opened in 1996 by William Backer, former owner of Backer Potato Chip Company. Back then, the museum was located at what Jones called "the old Kmart building, which is now Tractor Supply."

The museum at the time held around 150 cars. Jones said at this building, the cars "were just kind of crammed all in there."

Jones returned to Fulton in 2003 to take care of his parents. That is when he was hired by Backer and his daughter, Vicki McDaniel, to "do something a little more interesting other than just a bunch of cars thrown together."

He began to incorporate local history in with the history of the cars.

"Trying to get people, you know, so it's not just a car museum, essentially," Jones said.

The museum moved to its current location at 200 Peacock Drive in 2006.

After Backer's death in 2007, McDaniel asked Jones to redesign the middle of the museum to be an event space.

He said this space can host up to 120 people. The museum hosts everything from weddings to reunions to birthday parties.

Jones wishes the space was a little bigger, as the museum can't fit all the larger events.

The museum now houses around 80 cars, although Jones said there are 150 cars in the collection.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones rotated some of the cars in-and-out of the museum. He said the process of moving the cars takes about five people.

Two of the volunteers who helped Jones with the moving process died, and two other volunteers retired and moved away from the area.

Auto World Museum is a nonprofit organization. Local college students used to help move around the cars, but Jones said "they've just kind of lost interest.

Jones said one reason he thinks the museum was chosen as the hidden gem of Callaway County is because of how unassuming the building looks from the outside.

"...People tell me they drive by it (the museum) all the time," Jones said. "And then they go 'Well, I've never been here,' and then they show up and they're like 'Wow.'"

The Auto World Museum is open Friday-Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Jones said the museum used to be open seven days a week, but decreased the schedule during the pandemic. He added that the museum's attendance hasn't decreased since the hours of operation changed.

Jones said his favorite car in the museum's collection changes every day of the week.

"Overall, I think I always fall back on the 1947 Hudson pickup truck," he said.

Only 3,000 of this car were ever made.

Other vehicles on display include a 1903 Humberette, a 1909 Ford Model-T, a 1957 Ford Thunderbird and a 1982 Delorean Coupe.

The museum will host the annual Willys Reunion in Sept. This event is a reunion for Willys or Jeep drivers, as well as a swap meet. To learn more about the event, visit

To learn more about the museum, visit