On March 9th, 2013, an American legend 1948 Tucker 48, one of 51 ever built, with 166 bhp, 335 cu. in. OHV horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, four-speed pre-selector transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes will be offered on RM Auction on Amelia Island as lot 155.
The Tucker 48 remains a rolling symbol of the American dream, as well as one of the most advanced, early post-war automobiles. Tucker’s concept for his car was revolutionary. He intended to use a Ben Parsons-designed rear-mounted engine, with all-independent Torsilastic rubber-sprung suspension and a disc brake at every wheel. Drive was to be by twin torque converters, one at each rear wheel.
The body design was penned by former Auburn Automobile Company designer Alex Tremulis, and it incorporated numerous safety features that Tucker promoted, including a windshield that would pop out in an accident, a wide space under the dash-pad into where front seat passengers could duck before a collision, and a center-mounted third headlight that would turn with the front wheels. Tucker purchased Air Cooled Motors, a New York manufacturer of small aircraft engines, and reworked their product for water-cooling. He installed it in his car, along with a four-speed transaxle borrowed from the Cord 810 and 812.
Serial number 1003, the car which is offered, was the third car built, and it was the first to have the valance panel between the body and front bumper. Of the six factory colors available, this car is one of 12 originally painted Maroon. Number 1003 in the late-1980s, purchased by none other than George Lucas. After several years, the filmmaker decided to sell car on in June of 2005. It was eventually acquired by the present owners in California, who elected to have the Tucker fully and properly restored.
Several years of exhaustive work followed, including the straightening and refitting of all body panels, installing all new wiring throughout, restoring all instruments and unique switches, crafting correct upholstery and interior fittings with many NOS parts, carefully refurbishing and refitting all chrome, with special attention given to the rear grille, which required extensive restoration, crafting new, correct wheel-covers, and matching the as-delivered Maroon paint to an original. Photographic documentation of the restoration is available for review.
Tucker number 1003 spectacularly represents the fulfillment of Preston Tucker’s dream. A little knowledge about cars can be dangerous, but it can also result in something so full of passion and fascination that it can survive bureaucracy and time to become an icon of its age and the ultimate validation of its creator. It is the American dream on four wheels.