1948 Tucker headed for June 7 auction at Clars gallery

1948 Tucker, one of only 51 made, to be auctioned by Clars on June 7. Image courtesy Clars Auction Gallery.

1948 Tucker, one of only 51 made, to be auctioned by Clars on June 7. Image courtesy Clars Auction Gallery.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Clars Auction Gallery will be selling a 1948 Tucker sedan on Sunday, June 7th, 2009 as part of their two-day Important Estate and Antiques Sale, with live Internet bidding provided by LiveAuctioneers.com. Several other noteworthy vintage and classic automobiles will complement this important piece of American history and engineering as it rolls onto the auction block.

The car, serial number 1041, is one of only 51 Tucker automobiles ever made, and is a prime example of what made Tuckers, according to their advertisements, “unlike anything else on the highway.”

The Tucker 48, unveiled on June 19, 1947, was the invention of car enthusiast and businessman Preston Thomas Tucker and renowned designer Alex Tremulis. Its creation symbolizes one of the last attempts by an independent car manufacturer to break into the world of high-volume automotive production.
The Tucker took the automotive world by surprise with its many modern innovations, including safety features such as a padded dashboard and a center-mounted steerable headlight referred to as “Cyclops.” Most remarkable was the Tucker’s converted Franklin helicopter engine, a 335-cubic-inch, 6-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine with 166 horsepower and 372 foot-pounds of torque. Thus equipped, the Tucker could accelerate from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 10 seconds and travel an estimated top speed of 120 m.p.h.

Despite the public’s enthusiasm for Tucker’s car, the Tucker Corporation was short lived. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Preston Tucker and his company of a variety of violations, including mail fraud. Although eventually cleared of all charges, the negative publicity and financial strains brought on by the SEC trials were insurmountable, and the Tucker Corporation closed its plant and fell into receivership in early 1949.

Although the early history of Tucker no. 1041 is unknown, it was acquired in 1954 by the now-defunct Sutro Museum at the Cliff House in San Francisco, where it was displayed alongside other rarities, including authentic Egyptian mummies. In 1970, the current owners purchased the Tucker at an auction of the Sutro collection. At that time, the car had traveled 90,000 miles. The current owners have put on an additional 30,000 miles. In 1988, the car was featured in the movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

Serial number 1041 was professionally restored in the early 1970s to enhance both its appearance and drivability. The interior is in extraordinary original condition – only the carpet has been replaced. The body of the car has been fitted with new wide whitewalls and more authentic hubcaps, and has been straightened and resprayed yellow. The car has also been fitted with a new condenser and new revulcanized underpinnings for its rubber suspension. A non-standard electric fuel pump has been added for quicker starting, and the flat-six engine has been professionally rebuilt with automotive pistons to prevent the copious oil consumption associated with aircraft-based engines. Although the car runs well, a spare, original, in-the-crate Tucker engine is included with the lot, as well as Tucker promotional materials.

Tuckers have long been sought-after investments, desired for their rarity, historical significance and innovative design and engineering. Serial number 1041 is ready for immediate use or concours competition.

For additional information about this or any other lot in the sale, call Clars at 510-428-0100. View the fully illustrated catalog online and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.