Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MISSING: Tucker No. 1027

Tucker No. 1027
Tucker No. 1027 is perhaps one of the better known of the missing Tucker 48s, thanks to a dramatic scene in Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

In the early fall of 1948, seven cars were driven from the Chicago Tucker Corporation factory to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 24-hour endurance testing.  At 3:00 AM on or about October 18, 1948, chief engineer Eddie Offutt was behind the wheel of Tucker No. 1027 when it spun out and rolled twice into the infield. The car's safety features (including the pop-out windshield) functioned exactly as designed and Offutt suffered only a bruised elbow.  In the movie, these events were re-created with the famous "Stucker" stunt double car, which was actually a modified Studebaker.

Tucker No. 1027 was not scrapped, but was returned to the Engineering Department and eventually sold at auction in 1950, listed as "no engine, wrecked."  Today, although it is not clear what happened to the body and chassis of No. 1027, some parts have been used in the restoration of other cars, while other parts are in the hands of private collectors.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This Month in Tucker History

1947 - It was May of '47 that the J. Gordon Lippincott & Company design team completed its work on a full-sized clay model. The Lippincott group had been brought in not as automotive engineers, but as product designers and setup next to Alex Tremulis' model. The friendly competition wasn't to change any of the Tremulis fundamentals - wheelbase, basic body, center headlight, but was purely for styling.

May of 1947 also found work beginning on the first Tucker prototype - the "Tin Goose."

1948 - It was in 1948 that Herbert D. Wilson published a glowing review of the Tucker in the May 2nd edition of the Chicago Herald-American.

Tucker Corporation ordered 500 engines from Aircooled Motors of Syracuse, New York, the new Tucker-owned subsidiary. While the location of the Aircooled Motors is referred to as Syracuse even on Company letterhead, the plant was actually located a few miles to the west in Liverpool, NY. It was also in 1948, during the month of May, that the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated a second investigation of Tucker Corporation.

Those highly sought-after Tucker promotional ashtrays featuring a model of the car were first offered to dealers from the pages of the TUCKER TOPICS, the Company's dealer newsletter in May 1948. The price then - painted for $10 and gold-tone plated for $12.50. The price today - in the $800.00 to $1,200.00 range!

On May 18, 1948 veteran racecar driver and Tucker Corporation's West Coast regional manager, Ralph Hepburn, was killed when his NOVI Special struck the wall during a practice lap for the Indy 500. Preston Tucker, a close friend of many years, was at the speedway when the accident occurred.

(Post credit: Jay Follis)