Sports & Classics of Monterey

15 - 16 August 2008

Lot 449

1948 Tucker Sedan

To be auctioned on Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sold for $1,017,500

  • Chassis no. 1038

166bhp, 335 cu. in. horizontally-opposed six-cylinder Franklin engine, four-speed electric pre-selector transmission, front and rear rubber torsion suspension with equal length, parallel A-arm front suspension and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130"

The name Tucker strikes a chord in the hearts of the public and car enthusiasts alike. Preston Tucker’s saga has been depicted as one man’s dream to build a revolutionary automobile. Although his company was short-lived with just 51 cars produced, Tucker’s legacy lives much larger, as one of the most famous auto manufacturers of the twentieth century. Tucker’s interest in automobiles was sparked by his friendship with the famous designer Harry Miller. As such, innovative engineering concepts were to be expected. While the Big Three were busy dressing up old prewar models in 1946, Preston Tucker went about producing an entirely new breed of car that would proudly bear his name.

Hiring gifted automotive engineers and skilled artisans, Preston Tucker acquired the enormous Dodge aircraft engine plant in Chicago as the manufacturing site for his dream car. Two clay mockups were built, each identical in mechanical dimensions, yet different in style and character, and both were brought to full scale. The car’s final appearance was decided by Preston Tucker who selected what he saw as the best features from each clay model and combined them into a final version – a metal prototype, affectionately dubbed the Tin Goose, unveiled on June 19, 1947.

With production plans moving ahead, Preston Tucker’s much anticipated 589 cubic inch engine was plagued by adversity. Company engineers found it too noisy, woefully underpowered and required multiple batteries to get it started. In addition, the ideas of utilizing fuel injection and fluid drive were also abandoned. Finally, Tucker’s engineers considered the 6ALV 335 Franklin helicopter engine as a replacement. They converted the engine to liquid cooling and employed a modified Cord 810 transmission. To their delight the modified 6 ALV 335 engine produced 166 horsepower and delivered an astounding 372 foot-pounds of torque. From a standing start, the engine could provide enough torque in first gear to strip teeth off the transmission.

The innovative 1948 Tucker automobiles remind automotive historians of Tucker’s creative thinking in mechanical engineering and design. Spearheaded by Preston Tucker’s own demand for vehicle safety, the cockpit was created using a padded dashboard and carried instrumentation that was grouped around the steering column, to ensure that protruding buttons or gauges would not harm passengers in the event of a collision. Of course, Tucker’s center-mounted steerable headlight has long been regarded as an example of the car’s innovative features.

By spring, Tucker ‘48s began rolling off the assembly line. Reviews from automobile magazines praised the car effusively.

Unfortunately, the Securities and Exchange Commission was not joining in the praise, targeting the Tucker Corporation with allegations of mail fraud and other violations. Negative publicity from the investigations caused the company’s stock to fall overnight. While investigations were underway, Preston Tucker struggled to reopen the facility, with a skeleton crew of production workers continuing to manufacture his automobiles.

Production lasted for several months until early March 1949, when the corporation fell into receivership and its assets were seized. Although ultimately acquitted of every charge against him and the company, the damage was irreversible – and the loss of his dream absolute.

According to historical records, S/N 1038 was completed on Oct. 25, 1948, finished in #300, Moss Green. The car was in inventory when the company entered receivership, and was without a transmission. At some point, a correctly modified Cord transmission was installed.

Although the early ownership is not known, by 1971 S/N 1038 was in the hands of Bill Goodwin of Frankfort, Indiana, who had the car restored by Tucker expert Bill Hamlin in Ontario, Canada. Goodwin sold the car in January 1974 at auction to William E. Beard, of Albany, Georgia. The previous owner purchased the car from Beard in February of 1989, before beginning a second restoration in California in early 1997.

Today, serial number 1038 is restored in the correct color of Moss Green. A comprehensive professional restoration carried out on a 3,100 mile original car has resulted in an award winning Tucker. The correct factory tan interior also sports a practical, yet novel innovation, as the front and rear seats can be interchanged to reduce wear. All interior fixtures were replaced or re-plated in durable and correct brushed chrome and nickel. Upon completion of the mechanical restoration of the engine, the water-cooled Franklin was tested on a dynamometer, where it generated a peak of 154.9bhp. At the same time, the electric pre-selector transmission was restored, including its vacuum/electric shift mechanism.

S/N 1038 is well equipped, including both the factory AM radio and a set of new old stock luggage (men’s luggage in leather, women’s luggage in vinyl.) Currently, the car is in very good overall condition. Cosmetically, the car is in nearly as new condition. The paintwork is lovely and the panel fit exceeds new standards. Similarly, the car’s brightwork, interior and detailing are very good. The underbody is clean and detailed, and the engine compartment offers a high quality appearance. The correct tan interior is excellent, and in near new condition throughout.

Tuckers have consistently proven excellent investments, a reflection of the car’s historical interest, rarity, and unique design and engineering. RM is pleased to offer this remarkable “car of tomorrow,” today.

RM Auctions is delighted to offer one of the finest, most well restored Tucker Sedans in existence today. One of only 51 examples ever built and the real life realization of one man's dream to revolutionize the automotive industry, there is perhaps no better example of the marque than this beautiful Sedan. Fully restored to correct original specifications and in absolutely stunning overall condition, the Tucker remains ready for immediate use or concours competition. Revolutionary in every aspect, this example is peerless in comparison. As Preston Tucker's advertising slogan said, "Don't Let a Tucker Pass You By."


Please note the serial number for this car is 1038.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

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California, USA

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