Weekend

1948 Tucker Model 48 Sedan

30. August 2019

Time to get this: 335 cid horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, 166 HP at 3,200 RPM, Tucker Y-1 four-speed pre-selector transmission, Torsilastic independent front and rear suspension, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 130”. On Auction soon

A Car with a lot of History

While the controversy surrounding the demise of visionary businessman Preston Tucker’s Tucker 48 continues, the vehicle he conceived and brought to life remains famous today as the vehicular embodiment of the American Dream. The Tucker 48 also stands as an enduring achievement as one of the most advanced automobiles of the early postwar era. Tucker’s revolutionary concept for his car included a Ben Parsons-designed, rear-mounted engine with all-independent Torsilastic rubber-sprung suspension and disc brakes all around. Drive was to be achieved with twin torque converters, one at each rear wheel. The distinctive, yet functional body was penned by former Auburn Automobile Company designer Alex Tremulis, including numerous built-in safety features.

Early on, Tucker’s design was heavily revised. While the safety features survived, the Parsons 589 engine and direct torque-converter drive system did not. Tucker purchased Air Cooled Motors, a New York manufacturer of small aircraft engines including the Franklin helicopter engine and reworked it for liquid cooling. Power was delivered by a four-speed transaxle borrowed from the advanced prewar Cord 810/812. Soon, 51 examples of the Tucker 48 were assembled, including the “Tin Goose” prototype and 50 pilot-production cars. Public demand was intense, but the Tucker Corporation came under the scrutiny of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. By the time Tucker and his executives were exonerated in early 1950, the public lost faith and Tucker lost his factory, yet the few Tuckers produced and surviving enjoy fierce collector demand today.

When Tucker folded, the company left behind several automobiles that had been partially but not fully completed. They included car number 1052, of which the chassis, firewall and suspension were accounted for as awaiting final assembly on March 3, 1949. According to Tucker historian, Jay Follis, 1052 was the factory test chassis for the Tuckermatic automatic transmission, making it a significant part of Tucker history. In 1950, car 1052 was sold at the Tucker bankruptcy auction to Ezra Schlipf, who intended to complete the car and to that end, gathered other components including the undamaged front-end sheet metal from car 1018, plus New Old Stock bumpers, front doors, quarter-panels, a decklid, and an original, correct engine and transmission. Subsequently, the project passed through Schlipf to Tucker Automobile Club of America co-founder and noted restorer, Stan Gilliland, then to famed Michigan collectors Richard and Linda Kughn. Subsequently, it was acquired by Wayne Lensing for a museum in Illinois, with the intention of incorporating the car into an exhibit replicating the Tucker assembly line.

Next, John Schuler acquired 1052. Given its unfinished status when Tucker production ceased, the 1052 project was not concerned so much with its restoration as about completing a vehicle the factory had never actually finished. Tucker expert Martyn Donaldson inventoried the thousands of original parts and determined what was still required. While 1052 was the test chassis for Tucker’s automatic transmission, the only surviving Tuckermatic transmission is kept at the AACA Museum; accordingly, former owner Stan Gilliland rebuilt a Tucker Y-1 preselector transmission for 1052 instead. Once the necessary parts were collected, the project was sent to Brian Joseph of Classic & Exotic Service in Troy, Michigan, for restoration and assembly, where the car’s floor, roof and rear doors were expertly fabricated using patterns taken from the original Tucker displayed at the Gilmore Car Museum. The restoration was completed beautifully with the body refinished in maroon, an original Tucker color, one also used on the “Tin Goose” prototype.

Following completion of the restoration in 2015, this historic Tucker was exhibited at several concours events, including the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, where it won Best in Class, in addition to display at the Red Barns Spectacular held at the renowned Gilmore Car Museum. Since virtually all original Tucker parts supplies have now been used, car 1052 will likely be the last to be completed. Remaining quite fresh in presentation, this example stands as a rolling piece of living history that beautifully documents an engaging chapter in postwar American industrial and technological history and the dream of one man – Preston Tucker. A report compiled by Tucker historian Jay Follis accompanies the sale. Mr. Schuler has made the decision to donate the proceeds of this Tucker to Mayo Clinic Cancer Research in honor of his late wife. We invite you to participate in this incredible and scarcely seen act of philanthropy and join the limited and prestigious ranks of Tucker ownership.

Images: Cortesy of WorldwideAuctioneers

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