Friday, March 23, 2012

What if....

A post on Jalopnik by Jason Torchinsky speculates on what could have been if Preston Tucker had been successful in manufacturing and distributing the Tucker '48.

(Post credit: Kit Fox, image credit: Jason Torchinsky)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tucker No. 1034 Sells for $1,320,000!

Tucker No. 1034
Just moments ago, Tucker No. 1034 sold for $1,320,000 (including fees) at Gooding & Company's Amelia Island (FL) auction.  This appears to be the second-highest recent auction price paid for a Tucker '48, falling between the record high of $2,915,000 paid for Tucker No. 1043 in January 2012, and the previous second-highest price of $1,127,000 paid for Tucker No. 1045 in August 2010.

(Post credit: Kit Fox; photo credit: TACA website)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MISSING: Tucker No. 1018

Tucker No. 1018
Tucker No. 1018 was sold to Buffalo (NY) Motor Sales in July 1948. During the fall of 1948, the car was driven around and displayed widely in New York and Pennsylvania by George McKinney, who owned the Buffalo distributorship and a dealership in Titusville, PA.

Unfortunately, some time in late 1948 or early 1949, Tucker No. 1018 struck a tree near South Wales, NY and was a total loss (luckily, there were no injuries). However, many parts of the car were salvaged and later sold to other collectors, including the front clip that TACA Director John Schuler is using to assemble his Tucker No. 1052.

(Post credit: Jay Follis and Kit Fox; photo credit: TACA website)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This Month in Tucker History

1947 - Excitement was in the air! The March 1947 issues of the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune introduced many readers to the Tucker with full-page advertisements. Those who picked up LIFE or Saturday Evening Post magazines nationwide found two-page ads announcing the "Most Completely New Car in Fifty Years." In all of these ads the car was described as the Tucker '48 and not the Tucker Torpedo as early promotional items had called it. If you have ever doubted the success of the initial promotion of the Tucker Motorcar, you only need to remember that even today many people will refer to the car as the Tucker Torpedo!

The future looked bright and, with all the activity, most were confident that Tucker Corporation would be in production shortly. By March 1947, the company had already raised $20 million with its sale of stocks and was able to secure a purchase / lease agreement with the War Assets Administration for the Dodge-Chicago plant.

Preston Tucker brought in the J. Gordon Lippincott design team, made up of Read Viemeister, Hal Bergstrom, Tucker P. Madawick, Budd Steinhilber, and Philip S. Egan, to complete design details for a Tucker prototype. Two full-scale clay models -- those of Chief Designer Alex Tremulis and the Lippincott team -- would eventually be built side by side as each team highlighted different features.

1948 - By the following year, March 1948, the highlight of the first annual stockholder's meeting was the demonstration of a complete car featuring the modified helicopter engine. The pilot production of Tucker automobiles had begun and 125 engines were ordered from the Franklin - Aircooled Motors plant in New York. Within just days of that order, Preston Tucker announced the purchase of Aircooled Motors by Tucker Corporation for a reported $1.8 million. It was also at this time that Audrey Moore, a leading female in the automobile industry, joined the Tucker Corporation design staff to handle interior styling.

1949 - By March of 1949 what had started as the vision of one man and became the dreams of so many seemed to be lost as Tucker Corporation entered into receivership with Preston losing control of his company to trustees A.J. Colnon & J.H. Chatz.

A factory inventory compiled by Dan Leabu on the third of March appeared to list Tucker # 1040 as being the last completed car. Sixteen other cars were shown as being "nearly complete," but without installed transmissions, engines or both, and Tucker Corporation's "cash on hand" was reported as only $219,193.00. Today, you would be hard pressed to find any owner of a restored Tucker willing to sell it for that amount! Also in March of 1949, the Detroit News brought further negative attention to the Tucker saga when it published, based on leaked SEC reports and misinformation, the very damaging article entitled "Gigantic Tucker Fraud."

1953 - Preston Tucker's own response to the demise of his car of the future -- "My Car Was Too Good" -- appearing in the premier issue of Cars Magazine, didn't hit newsstands until March of 1953.

(Post credit: Jay Follis)