1948 Tucker Torpedo Convertible

CrzRsn

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I've heard rumors about this car, but never thought any of them were true. Apparently they were.


If you want to start a fight, just log onto any Web site where Tucker automobile buffs hang out ? www.tuckerclub.org is a good place to start ? and start asking around about the existence of a Tucker convertible. Then put on your helmet and protective cup and wait for the sparks to fly.

Whether or not an unfinished, legitimate Tucker convertible ? one that was designed and at least partially assembled at the company factory ? actually exists has been a hot-button topic for years among Tucker club members and fans of the famous, star-crossed marque. Chat room debates have raged, tempers have flared and rocks have been thrown.

Now, more than 60 years after the factory closed, only two things are really clear:
1. The Tucker Corp. never ?officially? built any topless Tucker automobiles. It built 50 four-door sedans and one prototype. That?s it.
2. Today, a Tucker convertible DOES exist, its legitimacy, its history, and its significance depends on your interpretation and, ultimately, who you want to believe.

One fact that is clearly not debatable is that Benchmark Classics, a collector car dealership and restoration shop in Madison, Wis., currently has the Tucker that has sparked so many arguments, and the company plans to finish the car off and unveil it to the world in May. Justin Cole, president and sales manager at Benchmark, said his company bought the car last month from a fellow Wisconsin resident, Allen Reinert, who had owned it for many years.

He knows that the decision to purchase the topless Tucker, chassis No. 57, and Benchmark?s plans to finish the car, show it off, and ultimately sell it, will no doubt re-ignite debate over the car?s murky past. It was an opportunity, however, that was too tempting to pass up.

?We?re just trying not to get too excited about it,? Cole said. ?It?s a huge deal, we know that ? We?re planning on it bringing in a ton of work for us, for our restoration shop ? It?s going to be an unbelievable sight when it?s done.?

Currently, the car consists of: a reinforced 10-gauge steel chassis; Tucker front end; a special shortened windshield and extra-long doors that were obviously different from standard Tucker parts; Tucker body panels, including the fenders; a Tucker engine and some interior parts, such as the dash and seat frames. It also has a convertible frame that is believed to be from a Buick. What it is missing is basically upholstery, a canvas top, a ?landing? area for the convertible frame to reside in when retracted, and body panels for the area ahead of the rear fenders, but behind the doors. Since all other Tuckers had been four-door sedans with back doors, no panels apparently existed that would bridge the gap between the A-pillar of a convertible and the back fenders.

?The only parts of the car that are not (currently) bone stock are in the suspension,? said Cole. At some point in the car?s past, he noted, the original leaf suspension was converted to a better-performing coil-over arrangement.

That there is actually such a car is not in question. Clearly there is. The debate comes over where it was born, whether it was a factory project, some secret ?back room? scheme, or a car that was cobbled together outside of the factory well after the production facility was shuttered.

Cole says he has plenty of evidence that proves the Tucker brass were in on building the car and that the mystery car was either a prototype convertible that officials hoped to offer to the public in later years, or a custom one-off car that someone was putting together for Vera Tucker, Preston?s wife. The plot thickens and becomes harder to unravel with the involvement of a third-party design and manufacturing firm ? Lencki Engineering ? which had been working with Tucker. At some point, the car wound up under canvass at the Lencki building, where it remained until a retiring employee took possession of it.

One of the biggest bones of contention is whether the car was in a rolling, ?almost-done? state when it got to the Lencki grounds, or whether it was pieced together at a later date with leftover Tucker parts that Lencki had on hand or were acquired in auctions after Tucker went under.

Jay Follis, the president of the Tucker Automobile Club of America and the marketing director of the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Mich., says he?d love to be convinced otherwise, but he contends that factory records simply don?t support the notion of a convertible ever being built, even partially, at the Tucker factory.

?My conclusion?? he asks with a chuckle. ?Our conclusion is that we have no conclusion ? The preponderance of evidence that we have seen is that it was not a factory product. We invite somebody to prove to us otherwise.

?I am definitely not opposed to finding some new piece of history. I?d love that! I?d love for somebody to be able to prove something. The problem with this car is that the proof is always conjecture.?

When pressed for his guess as to where the car originated, Follis points to the number of Tucker parts that were available and that were bought at auction following the company?s demise. ?We know for a fact that several bodies, body systems, chassis, sheet metal ... it was all sold at auction,? he said. ?My guess is that Joe Lincke wound up with some of these parts, and over time thought, ?You know what? This would be a fun project. We have all the sheet metal we need. We can build the chassis right here in-house. We can build a Tucker convertible. Why not make a fun project out it??

?That?s where I feel its birth came from. The story of it being this off-site project ? I just have to laugh.?

Regardless of its pedigree, the car figures to be a showstopper when it?s finished. Cole said he is hoping to show it at the Pebble Beach and Amelia Island concours events in the next year, and perhaps show the car off at SEMA in Las Vegas in the fall. He says he is going to enjoy the ride while it lasts, because by this time next year somebody else will probably own it. Cole did not disclose his actual purchase price, but said he is giving Reinert a newly restored 1957 Corvette ?fuelie, a 2003 ?.007 Edition? Thunderbird, and ?a large amount of money? in exchange for the convertible. Reinert had the car up for sale on a few occasions over the years, usually as a package deal with Tucker No. 43, which he also owned. In 2001, according to Follis, the asking price for both was $1.1 million.

?We?re doing a concours restoration on it and we?re going to sell it,? the easy-going Cole said. ?We?d love to keep it, but the economy isn?t treating us any better than it?s treating any other dealer of luxury goods, I guess. It?s an awesome car, and it?s going to be beautiful when it?s done, but we?ll have to sell it.?

?It?s quite the project, and we?re just ecstatic to have it.?

http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/article/Tucker_convertible_will_finally_take_a_bow/
 

argatoga

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Looks fantastic. I love Tuckers.
 

CrzRsn

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Well now its up on eBay with a BIN of $5,000,000
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Other-Makes-1-of-1-Prototype-Tucker-Convertible-0-Original-Miles_W0QQitemZ250369129631QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Cars_Trucks?hash=item250369129631&_trksid=p4506.c0.m245&_trkparms=72:317|65:12|39:1|240:1308


So much for waiting until after it's first shown at the Pebble Beach and Amelia Island concours events. Benchmark Classics, the collector car firm that managed to procure the only known Tucker convertible in existence, has already placed the machine on eBay, despite the fact that the car's restoration has yet to be completed. It's not really known how this particular vehicle came into existence, with some claiming that it might have been a behind-the-scenes factory effort and others resolutely saying that it's nothing more than an interesting custom.

Regardless of its murky past, the future is looking bright for the droptop Tucker, which is scheduled to be completed in May. Judging from the pictures that have been made available, the car managed to survive in relatively decent shape considering its age, and the restoration work appears to be top notch to our untrained eyes. One thing is for certain: This car is not going to go cheap. The bidding starts at million dollars, but those wishing to cut right to the chase can opt to Buy It Now for $5,000,000. Check out the links below for the auction listing and the car's microsite.
 

bartboy9891

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Lets hope Jay Leno buys it then posts a test on his site! :)
Does Leno own a Tucker? I don't remember seeing one in pictures of his garage and I don't think he has a video of one on his site. He should definitely buy one if he doesn't have one, he might as well buy the convertible while he's at it :)
 

CrzRsn

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:drool:

Its finally finished and up for sale again!

It has been said that the Tucker 48 was "the most important American car" (which sounds like a quote from Preston Tucker himself.) Tucker, both the car and the man, remain the stuff of legends, uniquely American legends. There were but 51 Tucker 48 sedans completed; they remain some of the most desirable and valuable of all American cars.

Called a circus ringmaster in his day, permit me to channel Preston Tucker for a moment (and encourage you to join me) by picturing him announcing...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls: Unique in all the world! The one, the only Tucker 48 Convertible!"

That's right. This is a Tucker Convertible. Actually, let me restate that for accuracy: This is THE Tucker Convertible, the one and the only. Others will tell you the specifics of the story that brought this spectacular automobile to the Russo and Steele stage. You'll learn how Benchmark Classics in Madison, Wisconsin discovered, acquired and finally completed one of the greatest (and most secret) of Preston Tucker's dreams. It is a wonderful story. However, hearing about the car itself is even better.

This is, for all intents and purposes, a newly finished Tucker 48, completed upon the specially box-wrapped ovular body/frame #57 from the Tucker Experimental Department. Only by seeing it in person can you fully realize how perfectly this car fits into Preston Tucker's original dreams for the Great American automobile and what a piece of automotive art that stands before you.

The Tucker 48 Convertible is painted Waltz Blue, a color said to come from Mrs. Vera Tucker's favorite dress. The light tan of the interior and convertible top are as if they've just rolled off the line in Chicago. The fit and look of the convertible top are astounding. The chrome...well, the chrome is perfect, from that massive prow to the six individual tips on the exhaust. Out front, you'll find a Tucker hallmark, the center headlamp that turns with the steering wheel. And, this one works!

Out back is the Tucker-specific, water-cooled, 335 c.i. Franklin flat six engine, putting out 166 horsepower and, astounding for the era, 377 ft lbs of torque. The original Cord-sourced pre-selector gearbox is perfectly calibrated. It all sits on four of the very rare Kelsey-Hayes Tucker wheels.

Inside, are more of the "safety car" innovations Preston Tucker devised plus a couple of examples of Tucker's well-known skills of parts sourcing. The correct Tucker steering wheel contains a modified Lincoln horn ring (nothing too odd there) and a center hub crest that uses Mills jukebox parts. Go find some of those at your local NAPA! And you'll find the famous vertical factory Tucker AM radio, just to the right of the steering wheel.

The car is in "As New" condition; there is less than two (that's right, 2) original miles on the car. The paintwork is lovely and the panel fit exceeds new Tucker standards. The car's brightwork, interior and detailing are also beyond factory new. The underbody is clean and detailed. The engine compartment presents the outstanding mechanicals beautifully. The correct tan interior is of excellent quality and new throughout. The matching canvas top is beyond reproach. At the risk of repetition, this is, for all intents and purposes, a newly completed Tucker 48.

To top it all off, the Tucker Convertible has been authenticated (See Affidavit) by one of the classic car industry's most legendary figures, Al Prueitt. Mr. Prueitt, founder of Prueitt and Son's Restorations has been heavily involved in the classic car industry for over fifty years. He founded Al Prueitt and Sons Restorations over thirty years ago. Over the years, Al Prueitt and Sons has enjoyed a reputation for fine work, integrity, and dependability, with over 100 national awards from such clubs as the AACA, CCCA, and the RROC. Al is also one of a select few who have received a lifetime achievement award from the CCCA.

The Russo and Steele Tucker 48 Convertible from Benchmark Classics has never-before been available. Both the car and its auction are, in a dictionary sense, unique. This is a moment of real history. And this is a car that lives up to the legend. This is the most significant of ALL Tucker automobiles, THE Tucker 48 Convertible. As I said at the beginning, there were only 51 Tucker sedans; they remain among the most desirable and valuable of all American automobiles. There is only one Tucker convertible. Consider the possibilities.

Recap
? Less than two original test miles, zero owners, never titled
? Correct rear mounted aircraft derived Franklin-Tucker flat 6 engine
? Correct Cord "Invisible Hand" semi-automatic transmission
? Unique box-wrapped ovular frame engineered exclusively for the Tucker Convertible
? The famous experimental car #57
? The only convertible out of 52 Tuckers ever produced
? Authenticated by classic car expert Al Prueitt (See Affidavit)

The Tucker will be sold on Bill of Sale making the purchaser the original owner of this true piece of automotive history.








:drool::drool::drool:
I would do ANYTHING, ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING to be the first owner of that car. I've wanted to own a Tucker since I first found out about it about 10 years ago, but owning this would be insane. You'd be a true part of the company's history.



:drool:
:jawdrop:
 
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argatoga

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I like the evil monster of a rear end. :p
 

2Billion

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You know, on reflection, I wonder if the Tucker might be the inspiration for the Bugatti Galiber on some level. Think of it, fastback body, easily 2-tone design, simply ridiculous number of exhausts.

It's just a thought, Tuckers are pretty fantastic overall though.
 

MacGuffin

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I saw the movie and also read about the history of Preston Tucker and his cars.

Obviously the "Big Three" tried everything to prevent Tucker from launching his car and libeled him and his creation in every possible way, but what clings to my memory the most, is the statement that "a car, that needs safety belts, cannot be safe" :lol:

What impresses me the most about this car, is that it is said to be designed within 6 days, yet has an air drag coifficient of 0.27. That's the same as a current Audi A4!! The Mk. I and Mk. II Toyota Prius has 0.26.

If the Tucker '48 would have gone into production, the whole history of car design and safety features would have taken another direction and countless lives could have been saved in accidents.

Because Ford, GM and Chrysler would have had no choice but to adapt their cars as well. But they didn't. And the end result of this policy can be seen today.
 
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CrzRsn

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I saw the movie and also read about the history of Preston Tucker and his cars.

Obviously the "Big Three" tried everything to prevent Tucker from launching his car and libeled him and his creation in every possible way, but what clings to my memory the most, ist the statement that "a car, that needs safety belts, cannot be save" :lol:
One of my favorite bio-pics. A similar movie is coming out about John DeLorean in 2011 (theoretically).
 

Cobol74

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One of my favorite bio-pics. A similar movie is coming out about John DeLorean in 2011 (theoretically).
Is it being financed in the same manner as the factory? :lol: Mrs Thatcher the arch capialist doing a Socialist employment support act!


Should be an interesting tale; I wonder how much of the N. Ireland Politics they will go in to, probably get it wrong if they try anyhow.

/EDIT Tucker's advanced design and ideas were fantastic, no wonder the big three tried by underhand tactics to stop him. As has been said above his designs would have forced them to compete and advanced engineering and design would have been the order of the day, rather than luxury and "features" in NA cars. 48 onwards until the 60s was the US leading the way with styling - it then all went a bit pear shaped, some fine individual designs but the overall standard went into decline.
 
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laxmax613

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if I had a chance to go back in time, i'd totally invest millions in Tucker. He could have been the American Citroen.
 

MacGuffin

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Better not. Citroens were extravagant and comfy but often not really properly engineered ;)

I know about that, because my dad used to own two CX's in the 80's.

There were garages that refused to repair or do maintenance on Citroens, just because the components were so insanely difficult to access.
 
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