Sports & Classics of Monterey

15-16 August 2008

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Lot 449

1948 Tucker Sedan

  • Chassis no. 1038

Sold for $1,017,500

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.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

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

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more