Tucker 48

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Tucker '48
1948 Tucker Torpedo 8511815871.jpg
1948 Tucker Sedan
ManufacturerTucker Corporation
Production1947–1948 (MY1948; total of 50 cars completed)
Model years1948
AssemblyChicago, Illinois, United States
DesignerGeorge S. Lawson, Alex Tremulis, Read Viemeister, Budd Steinhilber, Tucker Madawick, Hal Bergstrom, Philip S. Egan
Body and chassis
LayoutRear engine, rear-wheel drive, 4-wheel independent suspension (rubber torsion tube (no springs) with shock absorbers)
EngineH-6 (horizontally opposed), OHV, 334.1 cubic inches (5.475 L)[1] (4.50" bore × 3.50" stroke), 7.0:1 compression ratio, 166 bhp, 372 lb⋅ft (504 N⋅m) torque
TransmissionCord 810/812; Tucker Y-1 (Modified Cord 810/812);[1]
TuckerMatic (R-1, R-1-2, R-3 versions)
Wheelbase128 in (325 cm)
Length219 in (556 cm)
Width79 in (201 cm)
Height60 in (152 cm)
Curb weight4,200 lb (1,900 kg)

The Tucker 48 (named after its model year) is an automobile conceived by Preston Tucker while in Ypsilanti, Michigan and briefly produced in Chicago, Illinois in 1948. Only 51 cars were made including their prototype before the company was forced to declare bankruptcy and cease all operations on March 3, 1949, due to negative publicity initiated by the news media, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and a heavily publicized stock fraud trial (in which the allegations were proven baseless and led to a full acquittal). Tucker suspected that the Big Three automakers and Michigan Senator Homer S. Ferguson also had a role in the Tucker Corporation's demise.[2]

The 48's original proposed price was said to be $1,000, but the actual selling price was closer to $4,000.[3] A 1948 Tucker sedan was featured in the July 26, 2011, installment of NBC's It's Worth What? television show. The car's estimated value at that time was US$1,200,000. The car is commonly and incorrectly referred to as the "Tucker Torpedo". This name was never used in conjunction with the actual production car, and its name was officially "Tucker 48".[3][4]

The 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on the saga surrounding the car's production. The film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, is a Tucker owner and displays his vehicle on the grounds of his winery.[5]


After World War II, the public was ready for new car designs, but the Big Three Detroit automakers had not developed any new models since 1941. This provided opportunities for new, small automakers[citation needed] which could develop new cars faster than the huge legacy automakers. Studebaker was the first to introduce an all-new postwar model, but Tucker took a different track, designing a safety car with innovative features and modern styling. His specifications called for a water-cooled aluminum block[1] flat-6 rear engine, disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension,[1] fuel injection, the location of all instruments within reach of the steering wheel, seat belts and a padded dashboard.

Tucker Torpedo brochure, c. 1947. This concept drawing includes a centrally positioned steering wheel, doors that wrap up into the roof, and front fenders that turn when the car is cornering. These features did not reach production

Before the war's end, Preston Tucker began working on plans for his new automobile. In the summer of 1944, he hired noted car designer George S. Lawson to style his new automobile.[6] Lawson worked on the project for over a year and a half before his design debuted publicly, beginning about February 1946 and found as late as a year later in March 1947.[7] Lawson was named the Tucker Corporation's "chief stylist" in February 1946, immediately upon the company's formation.[8]

In December 1946, Lawson resigned from the company after a disagreement with Preston Tucker, and shortly thereafter, stylist Alex Tremulis of local Chicago design firm Tammen & Denison was hired and furthered the development of the Lawson design. Tucker gave Tammen & Denison and Tremulis a three-month contract, which expired in March 1947 and was not renewed.[9] The culmination of Tremulis' efforts during this phase of design development was featured in a full-page advertisement run in numerous national newspapers in March 1947. Tremulis' design was based directly upon the work of George Lawson, but incorporated his own artistic flair.

Simultaneous with Tremulis' departure, Preston Tucker hired a team of five designers (Read Viemeister, Budd Steinhilber, Tucker Madawick, Hal Bergstrom and Phillip Egan) from the New York design firm J. Gordon Lippincott, who updated Tremulis' design just as Tremulis had done with Lawson's.[10]

(Left): Tucker Torpedo photographed at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed, England; (right): Tucker 48 at the San Diego Automotive Museum

After a month's absence, Tremulis was rehired and the two independent design groups developed full-size clay models side by side in direct competition.[9] Surviving photographs of the two models reveal that Tremulis' clay design remained unchanged from his March 1947 advertisement proposal and was not chosen for production. The passenger side of the Lippincott team's clay model (they submitted two designs), which incorporated the side profile developed by Tremulis prior to their arrival, was chosen virtually intact for the production automobile's styling.[10]

The Tucker '48's evolving appearance in the company's press releases and other promotional materials, combined with suggestive statements such as "15 years of testing produced the car of the year"—despite no running prototype existing at the time—were instrumental in the SEC filing mail and conspiracy fraud charges against Preston Tucker. The SEC, however, failed to prove its case, and Tucker was acquitted of all charges in January 1950.[11] However, the company never recovered.

Tremulis, like George Lawson, was eventually named the Tucker Corporation's "chief stylist," although the first reference to him holding this position does not appear until 1948, after the Tucker '48's exterior styling was completed.[12]

The Tucker automobile was originally named the "Torpedo," but was changed to "Tucker '48" around the time of Lawson's departure and Tremulis' arrival, reportedly because Tucker did not want to remind the public of the horrors of World War II. Alex Tremulis has claimed responsibility for dubbing the first prototype automobile the "Tin Goose," which is presently used in a loving manner but at the time was considered derogatory.[13]

Innovative design features[edit]

A Tucker '48 Sedan design patent illustration[14]

The Tucker was a pioneer in terms of engineering and safety features. A rear engine, rear wheel drive configuration had been employed in Tatras and Volkswagens, and headlamps that turned with the front wheels had been available since the 1920s, but they would have been firsts for a modern American production car. The most recognizable feature of the Tucker '48, was a third directional headlamp. Centrally located, it would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car's path around corners. At the time, 17 states had laws against cars having more than two headlights.[15] Tucker fabricated a cover for the center light for use in these states.

The car had a rear engine and rear-wheel drive. A perimeter frame surrounded the vehicle for crash protection, as well as a roll bar integrated into the roof. The steering box was behind the front axle to protect the driver in a front-end accident. The instrument panel and all controls were within easy reach of the steering wheel, and the dashboard was padded for safety.[16] The windshield was made of shatterproof glass and designed to pop out in a collision to protect occupants. The car's parking brake had a separate key so it could be locked in place to prevent theft. The doors extended into the roof, to ease entry and exit.[15] Each Tucker that was built differed somewhat from the previous car, as each car built was basically a "prototype" where design features and engineering concepts were tried, improved, or discarded throughout the production cycle. The door releases on the interior of the Tucker came from the Lincoln Zephyr. The steering columns used in the Tucker were donated by Ford and are from the 1941 Lincoln. Preston Tucker held a patent for a collapsible steering column design. A glove box was added to the front door panels instead of the more conventional location in the dashboard to provide space for the "crash chamber" that the Tucker is now famous for. This is a padded area ahead of the passenger seat, free from obstructions, providing the front seat passengers an area to protect themselves in the event of an accident.[3] The engine and transmission were mounted on a separate subframe which was secured with only six bolts. The entire drive train could thus be lowered and removed from the car in minutes. Tucker envisioned loaner engines being quickly swapped in for service in just 30 minutes.[17]

Tucker envisioned several other innovations that were later abandoned. Magnesium wheels, disc brakes, fuel injection, self-sealing tubeless tires, and a direct-drive torque converter transmission were all evaluated or tested, but were dropped on the final prototype due to cost, engineering complexity, and lack of time to develop.[18]

Tucker initially tried to develop an innovative engine, with help from Ben Parsons, then owner and president of the Fuelcharger Corporation, and would later be Tucker's VP of engineering.[19] It was a 589 cubic inches (9.65 L) flat-6 cylinder with hemispherical combustion chambers, fuel injection, and overhead valves operated by oil pressure rather than a camshaft. An oil pressure distributor was mounted in line with the ignition distributor and delivered appropriately timed direct oil pressure to open each valve at proper intervals. The oil pressure fed to each valve was "timed" by intake and exhaust eccentrics and measured by spring-loaded plungers.[19] It had large pistons built of aluminum and magnesium castings with steel-plated cylinder linings.[19] This unique engine was designed to idle at 100 rpm and cruise at 250-1200 rpm through the use of direct-drive torque converters on each driving wheel instead of a transmission. It was designed to produce almost 200 hp (150 kW; 200 PS)1 and 450 lb⋅ft (610 N⋅m) of torque at only 1800 RPM. When cruising at 60 mph (97 km/h), it would only turn at approximately 1000 rpm.[19] These features would have been auto industry firsts in 1948, but as engine development proceeded, problems appeared. Six prototypes of the 589 engine were built, but it was installed only in the test chassis and the first prototype.[15]

Troubled premiere[edit]

The world premiere of the much-hyped Tucker '48 car was set for June 19, 1947. Over 3,000 people showed up at the factory in Chicago for lunch, a train tour of the plant, and the unveiling of the first prototype. The unveiling appeared doomed, however, as last-minute problems cropped up. The night before the premiere, two of the prototype's independent suspension arms snapped under the car's weight. (The prototype was extremely heavy; much heavier than the other '48s.) Minor engine problems were fixed, and the car was presentable by the time of the premiere. However, the experimental 589 engine was extremely loud. Tucker told the band to play as loud as possible to drown out the noise. Additionally the high-voltage starter required the use of outside power to get the engine started, so Tucker had the engineering team keep the engine running during the entire event, fearing that the public would see how much effort was required to get the engine started.[19] As the car was driven on to the platform, the liquid coolant boiled over and some steam escaped from the car, but no one seemed to notice.[10]

Drew Pearson, one of the top newspaper columnists of his time, reported publicly that the car was a fraud because it could not go backward and it went "goose-geese" going down the road.[20] Despite the fact that this problem was limited to the first prototype only, a symptom of the speed with which the first car was put together, the damage to the car's reputation was done, and a storm of negative media followed.[20]

Tucker suffered another setback when his bids to obtain two steel mills to provide raw materials for his cars were rejected by the War Assets Administration under a shroud of questionable politics.[21]

Continued development[edit]


Tucker 589cu.in. prototype direct drive engine. (Note torque converters at each end and the early rubber disk-type suspension used on prototype)
Franklin O-335 engine and Tucker Y-1 transmission.

Tucker had promised 150 hp (110 kW; 150 PS), but his innovative engine was not working out. The valve train proved problematic and the engine only produced approximately 88 hp (66 kW). The high oil pressure required a 24-volt electrical system, up to 60 volts to get it started, and a long cranking time at start-up. Additionally, the oil pressure required to maintain valve function was not achieved until the engine was turning at higher RPM and Tucker's engineers struggled with keeping the valve train working at idle and lower speeds/RPM.[19] Having wasted nearly a year trying to make the 589 work, Tucker started looking for alternatives.

The company first tried the Lycoming aircraft engine, but it would not fit in the car's rear engine compartment.

An air-cooled flat-6 engine, the O-335 made by Air Cooled Motors (and originally intended for the Bell 47),[22] fit, and its 166 hp (124 kW; 168 PS) pleased Tucker. He purchased four samples for $5,000 each, and his engineers converted the 334 cubic inches (5,470 cc) engine to water cooling (a decision that has puzzled historians ever since).[22] The Franklin engine was heavily modified by Tucker's engineers, including Eddie Offutt and Tucker's son Preston, Jr. at his Ypsilanti machine shop. Using an aircraft engine in an automotive application required significant modification; thus, very few parts of the original Franklin engine were retained in the final Tucker engine. This durable modification of the engine was tested at maximum power for 150 hours, the equivalent of 18,000 miles (29,000 km), at full throttle.[23]

Tucker quickly bought Air Cooled Motors for $1.8 million to secure the engine source, then canceled all of the company's aircraft contracts so its resources could be focused on making automotive engines. This was a significant decision, since at the time of Tucker's purchase, Franklin held over 65% of post-war U.S. aviation engine production contracts. The loss of income was substantial.


With the horizontal, between-the-wheels 589 motor and its double torque converter(s) (and no reverse) drive system out, Tucker now needed a transmission to mate with the Franklin O-335. This motor was also horizontal, but its driveshaft pointed towards the front of the car. It was discovered, after a few sketches were made, that it was theoretically possible to adapt a previous transmission design intended for front-engine/front wheel drive use. This transmission served as a temporary "fix" for a very real problem for the success of the Tucker.

Pre-Selector manual transmission

Cord-Auburn Gear-Bendix Unit- It was discovered that the Cord 810/812's Auburn Gear, front-wheel-drive; 4-speed transmission, with the Bendix "Electric Hand" electro-vacuum shifting mechanism, fit the immediate design requirements needed to get the cars built, and on the road; until a future automatic (Tucker-built transmission) was worked out. This transmission was designed originally behind a standard V-8 engine, and pointed forward towards the front of the car, for the front wheels. However, this transmission came with a poor reputation, following its original use, in the Cord 810 automobile. (In 1936, when the Cord 810 made its debut at the New York Automobile show, the transmissions were so problematic that 810 models were mostly shown without any transmission installed. Problems abounded until the last Cord was produced in 1937.) The Cord transmissions, even with refurbishing, were initially inadequate for the power and torque of the O-335 engine. The Cords lacked adequate lubrication and the main shaft was so long that it warped under load (causing gears to pop out of play), and the gear-teeth were quite weak. Nevertheless, in the Tucker, this transmission worked well enough for the new engine configuration; it provided an adequate (albeit fragile) transmission, with a reverse gear. The company then sent several of its staff, including Preston Tucker Jr., on a campaign to buy used Cord transmissions, for reconditioning; a total of 22 used transmissions were acquired from junkyards and used car dealers. These transmissions were taken to the Ypsilanti Machine And Tool Company. After refurbishment, several were mated to the O-335 and found to work, providing four speeds forward and reverse. It was decided, consequently, that the Cord design, nearly 12 years old, would become the "manual transmission" for the 1948 and subsequent Tucker automobiles. About eight to 10 of the 22 Cords were found to be usable and – since newly made Cord Y-1 transmissions were not yet available – were installed in production Tucker vehicles. Several of these cars, with Cord transmissions, have survived.

Ypsilanti Y-1 transmission Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, which was tapped to recondition the Cord units, began immediately redesigning the transmission for mass production for Tucker. This new design, which had few similar parts to the Cord transmission, still used the same basic indirect transmission design, but had all new gearing, shafts and electro-vacuum controls. Tucker and his engineers modified it, installing stronger gears and lengthening the case. The modified Cord transmission was named the Tucker Y-1 (Ypsilanti-1) and was installed in a few Tuckers. Both also used a Bendix designed electric vacuum shift mechanism with no mechanical linkage to the steering column shift lever. These EVS's had problems of their own with electrical connections and vacuum leaks that hindered shifting, so a new fully mechanical shift design would have been needed, had the Tucker made it into 1949, and beyond.

Tucker-Matic drive

Tucker 335 engine and Tuckermatic R-1-2 transmission (trans recovered from car #1042; note second torque converter on the end).

To solve the transmission problems with a new final transmission design, Warren Rice, creator of the Buick Dynaflow transmission, was consulted. A unique continuously variable transmission called the "Tucker-Matic" was designed, which was strong enough to handle the Franklin O-335's power and torque. It was a simple but effective design, with double torque converters and only 27 basic moving parts which was about 90 fewer than normally required for a contemporary automatic. The double torque converters allowed a continuously variable drive ratio with only one forward gear and one reverse gear which used the torque converters to vary the transmission ratio based on load and engine speed.

The only surviving car with a Tucker-Matic installed had a standard column shift lever, with a three position quadrant on the steering column. Up was reverse, the middle was neutral, and down was drive. Due to the Tucker-Matic's design, no lower gear selections were necessary, hence there was no need for a multi gated selector like other automatics.

Three versions of the Tucker-Matic were made, the R-1, R-1-2, and R-3, (R for Warren Rice, its designer). The first version, the R-1, was not installed on any of the final cars. It required the engine to be off in order to select a gear. The R-1-2 was improved by adding a layshaft brake to allow gear selection while the engine was running. This version was installed on cars #1026 and 1042 only. The R-3 version had further improvements including a centrifugal clutch to help shifting between forward and reverse even further, but it was never installed in any of the final cars.

Because the two torque converters on the Tuckermatic made the engine-transmission unit longer, the fuel tank in the Tucker '48 had to be moved from behind the rear seat to in front of the dashboard for all Tuckers from car #1026 forward, even though only two of them actually had the Tuckermatic installed. This had the added advantage of improving weight distribution in the car.

Other drives contemplated for the Tucker 48 A Borg-Warner based, 3-speed automatic was supposedly tested and was installed on car #1048 at some point when the company was in business. Although no histories written ever mentioned such a drive. That said, Tucker ultimately wanted to design his own transmission for the final car, which came to fruition with the Tucker-Matic discussed below. In 1949, #1048 was sold at the receivership auction WITHOUT a transmission installed. Today, #1048 has the 4 speed pre-selector transmission that was used on all but 2 of the Original 50 pilot models. It is likely this transmission was privately installed after the auction transpired. Further likely is that the unit was the Ypsilanti Built Y-1 transmission.

Suspension and body[edit]

Tucker rear suspension rubber torsion tube (left) and Sandwich type front suspension (right) used on cars #1001–1025.
Tucker Rubber Torsion Tube (version2) Front Suspension used on car #1026-on. This unit taken from car #1046 for V8 conversion.

Suspension designs, especially the front suspension, had to be changed throughout development. Rather than steel springs, Tucker used an elastomeric (rubber) 4-wheel independent[15] suspension similar to what was used on the race cars he developed with Harry Miller at the Indianapolis 500. The rubber elastomers were developed with assistance from the Firestone Tire Company and used a special Vulcanization process to produce a specific spring rate.

Tucker's suspension designs were plagued with severe stiffness throughout development, which, while good for handling, caused front-wheel corner lift when cornering on uneven surfaces. The test bed and the prototype had a double-rubber disc type front and rear suspension, similar to Miller's race cars, which was too weak for the weight of a passenger car. On cars #1001 and 1002 the rear wheels could not be removed without removing the fender or suspension due to the stiffness of the suspension and the rear wheel arch fender design. From car #1003 on, the rear fender shape was changed so the tire could be removed easily. Aside from the fender changes, the rear suspension remained the same from car #1001 on.

Three versions of the front suspension were installed in the cars (aside from the rubber-disc style used on the prototype). Cars #1001–1002 used a rubber torsion tube design, which suffered from severe toe-in during heavy braking. Tucker then switched to a rubber sandwich type suspension (with a rubber block sandwiched between the upper and lower A-arms) on cars #1003–1025, however, this type was severely stiff. Starting on car #1026, Tucker finally settled on a suspension design with a modified version of the rubber torsion tube with the toe-in braking problem corrected.

Original Tucker paint color codes:[1]

  • 100: Black
  • 200: Waltz Blue
  • 300: Green
  • 400: Beige
  • 500: Grey (Silver)
  • 600: Maroon

Original Tucker interior trim color codes:[3]

  • 900: Green
  • 920: Blue
  • 940: Beige

Funding and publicity[edit]

Having raised $17,000,000 in a stock issue, one of the first speculative IPOs, Tucker needed more money to continue development of the car. He sold dealerships and distributorships throughout the country. Another money maker was the Tucker Accessories Program. In order to secure a spot on the Tucker waiting list, future buyers could purchase accessories, like seat covers, radio, and luggage, before their car was built. This brought in an additional $2,000,000.

With the final design in place, Preston Tucker took the pre-production cars on the road to show them in towns across the country. The cars were an instant success, with crowds gathering wherever they stopped. One report says Tucker was pulled over by a police officer intent on getting a better look at the car.[citation needed]

To prove the road-worthiness of his cars, Tucker and his engineers ran several cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in several endurance tests. During this testing, car #1027 was rolled three times at 95 miles per hour (153 km/h), and the driver (chief mechanic Eddie Offutt) walked away with just bruises. During the crash, the windshield popped out as designed, verifying Tucker's safety features were effective. Afterwards, upon replacing a damaged tire, the car started up and was driven off the track.

SEC investigation and demise[edit]

1948 Tucker at Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States

One of Tucker's most innovative business ideas caused trouble for the company. His Accessories Program raised funds by selling accessories before the car was even in production. After the war, demand for new cars was greater than dealers could supply, and most dealers had waiting lists for new cars. Preference was given to returning veterans, which meant that non-veterans were bumped down on the waiting lists indefinitely. Tucker's program allowed potential buyers that purchased Tucker accessories to obtain a guaranteed spot on the Tucker dealer waiting list for a Tucker '48 car.

This concept was investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney, and led to an indictment of company executives. Although all charges were eventually dropped, the negative publicity destroyed the company and halted production of the car.

Tucker '48 cars[edit]

The first Tucker produced was a prototype sedan, known as the "Tin Goose". Fifty-eight frames and bodies were built at the factory. From these parts, 36 sedans were finished before the factory was closed. After the factory closed, but before liquidation of his assets, Tucker retained a core of employees who assembled an additional 14 sedans, for a total of 50. A 51st car was partially completed. A few of the remaining frames and bodies were built into complete cars specifically #1052 and #1057 (the 1949 prototype with design changes), but the fate of others is unknown.

In the early 1950s, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, fairgrounds owner Nick Jenin purchased over ten Tuckers, the original Tucker testbed chassis, numerous Tucker parts, photos and documents.[24] He developed a traveling display called "The Fabulous Tuckers". He hauled the cars and memorabilia around the country for nearly 10 years displaying them at fairgrounds and car shows. His display highlighted the questionable policies and SEC fraud investigation which brought Tucker down.[24]

When the cars appear at auction, which is rare, they command prices attained by only a few marquee cars. In August 2010 Tucker #1045 sold for $1.127 million[25] while Tucker #1043 went for $2.915 million at auction in 2012.[26]

Tucker Cars #0000-1050 Completed at the Tucker Factory
Chassis number Location Owner Engine Transmission Front suspension version Original body color/paint code
0000 (prototype) Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Swigart Antique Auto Museum Tucker 589 cu in. Direct Drive (Original); Converted to Franklin O-335 by Tucker after first showing. Direct drive torque converters (Original); Converted to Tucker Y-1 by Tucker after first showing. Rubber Disc Type Maroon/600
The prototype was the only complete Tucker with Rubber Disc prototype suspension, the 589 engine, and direct torque converter drive (with no reverse gear). After the first showing it was converted to an O-335/Y-1 at the Tucker factory.
1001 Hershey, Pennsylvania AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 1 Maroon/600
Car #1001 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon Cammack's death in 2013 his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1002 Clayton, Ohio Owned by Elaina Hill Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 1 Waltz Blue/200
Fenders changed from 1003-on to allow rear wheel removal. Rubber Torsion tube front suspension plagued by severe toe-in when braking.
1003 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
Car #1003 is currently on display at the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum in San Francisco.[27] Sold at Gooding & Co's Pebble Beach Auction in 2014 for $2,035,000[28]
1004 Nagakute, Japan Toyota Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
Car was originally Grey(Silver)/500 but was painted Maroon/600 when it was restored in 1978. Was reportedly entered in two NASCAR races in 1950.[29]
1005 Tallahassee, Florida Tallahassee Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1006 Clayton, Ohio Owned by Elaina Hill Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Custom Gold
1007 Tacoma, Washington LeMay Family Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Originally Green/300 Repainted Navy Blue
Tucker #1007 left the factory in the Green color (#300) with the Green interior(#900) trim. There were only eight Green Tuckers, and only 5 remain in the factory Green color. During the early 1960s, Tucker #1007 was painted a bright red-orange, then later painted black, then lastly painted its present deep metallic blue color in the early 1990s. It is currently on display in the LeMay Family Collection at the Marymount Event Center in Tacoma, Washington.[3]
1008 Chicago, Illinois Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
Car was originally Beige but is now Maroon/600. It is currently located in The Richard Driehaus Collection at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage.
1009 California Lucasfilm Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
1010 Washington Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
After 50 years stored in a barn near Tacoma, Washington Tucker #1010 was sent to auction in January 2011 via Gooding and Co in Scottsdale, Arizona for a starting bid price of $750,000. Reports and photos indicate the engine was seized, with rust damage throughout the vehicle and some minor exterior parts missing, including original hubcaps. Major restoration is necessary.
1011 Montana Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
1012 LaPorte, Indiana Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
On public display at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum as part of the Kesling Auto Collection.
1013 Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Swigart Antique Auto Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1014 San Francisco, California Privately owned/Francis Ford Coppola Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
This car is currently on display at Inglenook Winery in Rutherford, California, located in Napa Valley.
1015 St. Clair Shores, Michigan The Stahls Collection Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
1016 Dearborn, Michigan The Henry Ford Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Black/100
1017 Colorado Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
1018 Grand Rapids, Michigan Incomplete/ Remains are privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
This car was damaged beyond repair in 1953, broadsiding a tree in South Wales, NY. The remnants of the frame are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and some body panels are in Roscoe, Illinois with the owner of Tucker 1027. The engine and Y-1 transmission from #1018 are located at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.[30][31] The front end sheet metal from car #1018 was used to complete car #1052 in 2015.[32]
1019 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey/500
Painted light blue by its owner in 1959, shortly after purchasing the car. He repainted it again a few years later in a metallic blue shade approximating Waltz Blue, applied to the car in his driveway at night, a flashlight in one hand, the spray-gun in the other! That paint-job remains on the car to this day.
1020 Japan Hani Corporation Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
1021 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Black/100
1022 Hershey, Pennsylvania AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
Car #1022 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, VA. Upon Cammack's death in 2013 his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1023 Florida Destroyed in Fire Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
In 1978, while in storage awaiting restoration in a DeLand, Florida warehouse owned by Allied Van Lines, #1023 was destroyed when the huge warehouse burned to the ground. Remains of car after fire were sent to the crusher in 1980 by the owner, a TACA founder.[33][34]
1024 Lincoln, Nebraska Museum of American Speed Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1025 Frankfort, Indiana The Goodwin Collection Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
Rubber sandwich front suspension abandoned due to severe stiffness
1026 Hershey, Pennsylvania AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tuckermatic R-1-2 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600 (Repainted in Bronze during restoration)
Arguably the most valuable Tucker[citation needed], #1026 is the only remaining complete Tucker with the Tuckermatic transmission. Car #1026 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, VA. Upon Cammack's death in 2013 his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. From #1026-on the fuel tank was moved to the front of the car and the Rubber Torsion Tube 2 style suspension with improved toe-in was used. Tucker #1025 and below used a mechanical linkage for the Cyclops Eye, whereas #1026 and above used a new, simpler cable design.[3]
1027 Unknown Unknown Franklin O-335 Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Car was rolled in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Tucker Corp, 1948. The engine/trans were removed at the factory, the chassis was sold at the Tucker factory auction after its closure. Museum used to own some body panels to wrecked Tucker 1018, other parts were either lost or used in restoration of other Tuckers. The car was sold by the owner of Historic Auto Attractions; current location is unknown.[35]
1028 Arundel, Maine Maine Classic Car Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Beige/400
Car was sold in an auction on April 27, 2019 for $1.8 million to Tim Stentiford, owner of Maine Classic Car Museum.

To date there are 2 Tuckers that reside in the state Maine, thus being the only one on public display in New England.[36]

1029 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
Preston Tucker's personal car that he drove for seven years until he sold it in 1955 to Winthrop Rockefeller. Until October 2017 it was located in the Lew Webb's Classic Car Museum in Aliso Viejo, California. In 2018 #1029 was auctioned by RM Sotheby's in Arizona for $1.8 million.[37][38][39][40]
1030 Los Angeles, California Petersen Automotive Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Black/100
1031 Los Angeles, California Breslow Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1032 Reno, Nevada National Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
1033 South Paris, Maine Privately owned in the Bahre Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
This is one of the most original Tuckers out there, unfortunately it is in a private collection, but the collection is open once per year in July to raise money for the town of South Paris and to befit the Hannibal Hamlin Estate where it resides. See their website at http://www.hamlin.lib.me.us/founders_day.html
1034 Tucker, Georgia The Cofer Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1035 Caçapava, Brazil Privately owned/City of Caçapava Franklin O-335. Car now has a Cadillac drivetrain Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1035 was exported to Brazil in 1949, where it was eventually kept in a private collection along with 50 other cars. When the owner died in 1975, the collection was claimed by several people within his family. The car had fallen into disrepair since that time until recently, currently undergoing restoration[when?]. It should soon be displayed at a local museum in Caçapava.[41]
1036 Nevada Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1036 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Monterey on August 15, 2014 for $1,567,500.[42]
1037 Geyserville, California Privately owned/Francis Ford Coppola Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/200
On public display in the wine tasting room at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville (Sonoma County), California.
1038 Unknown Privately owned Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
1038 was owned by Bernard Glieberman. It was on display in Shreveport, Louisiana, while Glieberman owned the Shreveport Pirates. In 1995, creditors moved to seize the car due to Glieberman's financial problems, and Glieberman's lawyer attempted to steal the car and hide it from authorities, only to run out of gas. Glieberman was eventually allowed to keep the car.[43] The car was sold at auction in August 2006 for $577,500 ($525,000 plus fees) and sold again in August 2008 for $1,017,500 ($925,000 plus fees).
1039 Washington, DC Smithsonian Institution Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
After years hidden in Smithsonian storage, Tucker #1039 was finally placed on public display in the Museum of American History in 2011. Tucker #1039 was acquired by the Smithsonian through the U.S. Marshals Service which had previously seized the car in a 1992 narcotics arrest. Instead of selling the car, the U.S. Marshals Service decided to donate the car to the Smithsonian. Currently on loan as of February 2012.[44]
1040 Sylmar, California The Nethercutt Museum
was auctioned by Sotheby's on January 18, 2019, going for $1.6 million.
Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Beige/400, now Waltz blue
1041 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Black/100
Tucker #1041 was sold at the Clars Auction on June 7, 2009 for $750,000 ($765,000 with fees).
1042 Memphis, Tennessee (Last seen) Abandoned/Destroyed/Lost Franklin O-335 Tuckermatic R-1-2 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Car #1042 was sold at the Tucker auction without an engine. Rumors exist that it was used in a "Bash a Tucker" fundraiser in the 1950s or may have been hauled off from its storage location by a disgruntled renter. Its location was unknown until 1960 when it was reportedly found abandoned along the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee, totally destroyed. A Memphis policeman took possession of the remains, but they were later stolen from his property. Most of the Tuckermatic transmission was found and is currently located at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1043 Arizona Privately owned Franklin O-335 Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1043 was sold at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 21, 2012 for $2,915,000, presumably the highest sale of a Tucker '48 sedan to date.[45]
1044 Roslyn, New York Privately owned/Howard Kroplick Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
Tucker #1044 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Arizona on January 19, 2017 for $1,347,500 to current owner Howard Kroplick.[46] The car, which had been painted a Root Beer Brown, was restored to its original color in 2018.[47]
1045 Melbourne, Australia Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
Tucker #1045 was sold at RM Auctions Sports & Classics of Monterey on August 13, 2010 for $1,127,500.[48]
1046 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 (original) / Oldsmobile Rocket 88 / Mercury 390CID Cord Rubber Torsion Tube 2 (Original)/Removed for front engine conversion Maroon/600
This car was converted to a front-engine Oldsmobile drive train in the 1950s by Nick Jenin for his daughter. In 1963 it was sold to a Mercury dealer in Oregon and converted to a 1964 Mercury Monterey chassis with 390 CID front engine. Sold on eBay for $202,700 (8/20/07) and reportedly returned to original specifications, including a correct Tucker engine. In 2017 it was offered for sale for $2.1 million.
1047 Hickory Corners, Michigan Gilmore Car Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1048 Hartford, Wisconsin Privately owned Franklin O-335 * Originally a Borg-Warner 3 speed automatic was installed at the factory for testing. Later, this car was sold at the factory auction WITHOUT a transmission installed. It is VERY possible a Y-1 was installed when the car was completed privately. Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
1049 California Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1049 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Monaco on May 14, 2016 for €1,344,000 (approximately $1,519,850).[49][50]
1050 San Marcos, Texas Dick's Classic Garage Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Lowest mileage Tucker with 0.4 miles on the odometer.
Incomplete Tucker Cars Chassis #1051-1058 Completed after leaving the factory or Parted out
Chassis Number Location Owner Engine Transmission Front Suspension Version Original Body Color/Paint Code
1051 Butler, New Jersey Privately owned Franklin O-335 Unknown Unknown dark red
Tucker 1051 was not completed at the Tucker factory, so it is not technically considered one of the original 51 cars (prototype + 50). The car was purchased at the Tucker auction in an incomplete state, and was finished in the late 1980s using leftover Tucker parts and fiberglass replica doors. The chassis used to complete #1051 is actually numbered #1054.[32]
1052 Aurora, Indiana Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Unknown dark red
Tucker 1052 was not completed at the Tucker factory, so it is also not technically considered one of the original 51 cars (prototype + 50). #1052 was a test chassis used at the factory for testing automatic transmission designs. The car consisted of only the chassis, driveline and suspension, dash and seats. The car was completed in 2015 by Tucker Enthusiast John Schuler using NOS (New Old Stock) parts he collected over many years, along with front sheetmetal sourced from car #1018. Reproduction floorpans, roof and rear doors were used.[32]
1053 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1054 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
The chassis of car #1054 may have been used to complete car #1051.[32]
1055 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1056 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1057 Unknown Privately owned Franklin O-335 Cord 610/812 Unknown Waltz Blue/200
#1057 was the prototype being worked on by Tucker designer Alex Tremulis for the 1949 model year. It was one of eight incomplete body shells (believed to be #1051-1058) left on the assembly line at the time the Tucker plant was closed. Photos from the factory show #1057 was being built with a "wrap around rear window" as one of the 1949 year design changes and is the only 1949 model. But #1057 was later converted to a convertible, whether at the factory or later is unknown.
1058 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

Replica vehicles[edit]

In 1997, Rob Ida Automotive started work on a replica of the Tucker '48 Sedan, which culminated in the release and marketing of the 2001 Ida Automotive New Tucker '48. This replica faithfully recreates the Tucker's external bodywork, but is built on a hotrod chassis with resin-infused plastic body panels. The paint and wheels reflect modern hotrod styling, and the interior is fully modern. It is powered by a mid-mounted Cadillac Northstar V8. Claimed performance is 0–60 in 7 seconds, with a top speed in excess of 120 mph (190 km/h). Ida has built three cars.[51]


Several Tuckers were entered in the NASCAR Grand National series in the 1950s.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The 1948 Tucker: Specifications". The Showroom of Automotive History. The Henry Ford. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Lehto, Steve; Leno, Jay (July 1, 2016). Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-61374-956-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f http://www.lemaymarymount.org/vintage-car-collection.htm.
  4. ^ "Tucker History: Fact Sheet". Tucker Automobile Club of America. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  5. ^ "Francis Ford Coppola Winery - Page Not Found". www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Cite uses generic title (help)
  6. ^ Lawson SEC Trial Testimony, National Archives, Chicago
  7. ^ "Car of the Future". San Antonio Light. February 11, 1946. p. 5.
  8. ^ "Torpedo Car Will Be Made in Chicago". Traverse City Record-Eagle. United Press International. February 11, 1946. p. 2.
  9. ^ a b Tremulis SEC Trial Testimony, National Archives, Chicago
  10. ^ a b c Egan, Philip S. (1989). Design and Destiny: The Making of the Tucker Automobile (1st ed.). Orange, CA: On the Mark. ISBN 978-0-924321-00-9.[page needed]
  11. ^ "Tucker Acquitted of Fraud; Wants to Build Autos". Jacksonville Daily Journal. January 24, 1950. p. 1.
  12. ^ Tucker Topics," Tucker Corporation, 1948
  13. ^ "Fantastic Tucker Story". Waukesha Daily Freeman. June 29, 1949. p. 8.
  14. ^ U.S. Design Patent no. 154,192, P.T. Tucker, Design for an Automobile, June 14, 1949
  15. ^ a b c d Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. (2008). American Cars, 1946–1959: Every Model, Year by Year. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 855, 1013–1015. ISBN 978-0-7864-3229-5.
  16. ^ "Directory Index: Tucker/album/album". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  17. ^ Duchene, Paul (February 1, 2011). "11 things you didn't know about the Tucker '48". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  18. ^ Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2011). A Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists and Inventors in American Film and TV since 1930. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. pp. 235–237. ISBN 978-0-8108-8128-0.
  19. ^ a b c d e f Wipff, John (1978). The Compleat History of Corvair, Vol 1, Chapter 2 Tucker and Corvair - Two of a kind?. Shelburne Falls, MA: Clark's Corvair, Inc. pp. 12–14.
  20. ^ a b Duchene, Paul (February 1, 2011). "Preston Tucker: The Man behind the Car". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  21. ^ Mitten, Ray (January 24, 1948). "Tucker Fights Republic for Steel Plant". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 18. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Burgess-Wise, David (1977). Ward, Ian (ed.). The World of Automobiles: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Motor Car (Reference ed.). Milwaukee: Purnell Reference. p. 2386. ISBN 978-0-8393-6009-4.
  23. ^ Auto editors of Consumer Guide (2002). Cars of the Fascinating '40s: A Decade of Challenges and Changes. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International. pp. 264–265. ISBN 0-7853-6274-6.
  24. ^ a b Ash, Agnes (May 8, 1960). "The Car Arrived Before Its Time". The Miami News.
  25. ^ "Lot 246 1948 Tucker 48 4Dr Sedan". RM Auctions. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  26. ^ "Barrett-Jackson Lot 5008: 1948 Tucker Torpedo". Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  27. ^ "Academy Vintage Car Collection Showcased at SF Auto Show, Nov. 22–29 - Academy of Art University". www.academyart.edu.
  28. ^ "Gooding's Pebble Beach 2014 Auction". Gooding and Company. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
  29. ^ "Racing See Photo at the 2:20 time on the YouTube video EXACTLY titled: "Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy). Jim Croce. (1974)" The Car is Racing as #12, and may have ben run by "Dealer In Fine Used Cars" Chuck Beckman from Mt Oliver - Pittsburgh, Pa. Rarity". www.hemmings.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  30. ^ http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/1018-Accident.jpg
  31. ^ http://www.kustomrama.com/images/8/8a/Tucker-1018.jpg
  32. ^ a b c d "The Last Tucker Assembled from Original Parts". Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  33. ^ http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/1023-post-Fire-1.jpg
  34. ^ http://www.kustomrama.com/images/d/db/Tucker-48-1023.jpg
  35. ^ http://www.kustomrama.com/images/d/d0/Tucker-1027.jpg
  36. ^ https://www.djournal.com/news/star-of-tupelo-automobile-museum-goes-for-m/article_367d6912-6c46-51c0-b5fa-7075ade286e9.html
  37. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6jzCdESDrc
  38. ^ http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/buying-maintenance/a14498169/buy-preston-tuckers-personal-tucker-48/
  39. ^ "Preston Tucker's Personal Car Is A True Piece Of Automotive History". Carscoops. December 16, 2017. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  40. ^ "RM Sotheby's Auctions - 1948 Tucker 48, #1029".
  41. ^ Hemmings Daily, Long-neglected Tucker exhumed, headed for restoration by David Strohl, February 15, 2011, Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  42. ^ RM Sotheby's Auctions - 1948 Tucker 48, #1036, Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  43. ^ Tobas, Daniel. "The Great Tucker Caper (Or: Glieberman Schlepped Here!)". Archived from the original on February 8, 2001. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  44. ^ "Tucker automobile". America on the Move Collection. National Museum of American History. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  45. ^ Barrett-Jackson, 1948 Tucker Torpedo, #1043, Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  46. ^ RM Sotheby's Auctions - 1948 Tucker 48, #1044, Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  47. ^ "Vanderbilt Cup Races - Blog - On the Road to Pebble: The First Video of the Newly Painted Tucker 1044". www.vanderbiltcupraces.com. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  48. ^ RM Sotheby's Auctions - 1948 Tucker 48, #1045, Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  49. ^ RM Sotheby's Auctions - 1948 Tucker 48, #1049, Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  50. ^ "Euro (EUR) To United States Dollar (USD) Exchange Rate on 14 May 2016". eur.fxexchangerate.com. FxexchangeRate.com. May 14, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  51. ^ Matras, John (July 2001). "Ida Automotive New Tucker 48". Car and Driver. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  52. ^ Schutta, Mike (March 1, 2012). "Racing Rarity". Hemmings Motor News. Retrieved August 18, 2013.)

External links[edit]