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Tucker: A Look At The Amazing Tucker Exhibition At The AACA Museum – Full Cars, Prototype Engines, More

Tucker: A Look At The Amazing Tucker Exhibition At The AACA Museum – Full Cars, Prototype Engines, More

(Photos by Joe Grippo) –The Tucker 48 will remain one of the most rare, intriguing, valuable, and interesting cars in American automotive history until the end of time. Was Preston Tucker a visionary? Was he a huckster? Was he a guy that actually scared the Big 3 to their core deep enough that they actively squashed his business or was he a guy that just got in deeper than he could handle and came just shy of pulling off an amazing American success story. Those are also points that will be debated long into the years of American automotive history but there’s one thing we do know. We know that Preston Tucker and his pluggy little company produced 51 supremely cool Tucker automobiles before slipping under the financial waves via their own hands or because of outside forces. The cars they did produce were far and away different (superior?) to what was on the market and they really took a clean sheet look at the automotive world of the late 1940s.

The AACA was the beneficiary of David Cammack’s posthumous generosity because upon his passing in 2013 his extensive collection was donated to the museum and it is housed there today. This is an amazing look at Tucker because you not only see some pretty cars sitting there, you see prototype engines, components, and some of the “accessories” that were actually used against Tucker in hastening the fall of the company. Tucker was dragged into court when the government took umbrage with him selling accessories for cars that were not exactly being built yet. Stuff like the radio you’ll look at below. Once embroiled in court, the whole thing unraveled and that was the end of the story of Tucker as a manufacturer but the innovations were many and important.

Windshields made of shatterproof glass, the headlight in the center of the car that turned with the wheel, and a ton more were all built into these cars. They also rank among the most valuable American cars now with auction prices soaring up over a million bucks for nice examples. Rather than ramble on, we’ll let Joe’s photos do the talking.

In the back of your mind as you look at this stuff, contemplate the fate of the Tucker company and how it came about. Was it just a business that overreached? Was it taken down by the colossus of the Big 3? Was it something in the middle?


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10 thoughts on “Tucker: A Look At The Amazing Tucker Exhibition At The AACA Museum – Full Cars, Prototype Engines, More

  1. jerry z

    IMHO, the big 3 had to be shitting in their pants when this car was unvailed. When I lived in NJ, there was a Tucker owner only 2 towns away but rarely took it to car shows.

    Woulda, coulda, maybe took the automotive world by storm? We’ll never know.

  2. mooseface

    Thanks for sharing this, Brian!
    It was cool to see some of the obscure components, like the hydraulically-modulated ignition and rubber torsion structures in the suspension.

    As much of a marvel as this car was, it was simply far too complicated for practical use. Simple repairs and maintenance would have been astronomically costly. Still, if it weren’t for these kids of flights of fancy, where would our hobby be?

  3. Matt Cramer

    It looks like they got a picture of one of the most fascinating Tucker engine prototypes there – it’s the one that looks like it was covered in orange spaghetti. I believe that’s the one with the hydraulically operated valvetrain. That idea has really intrigued me – what sort of variable valve timing and lift tricks could you pull off with a hydraulic valve distributor?

    1. mooseface

      Right? That engine was nuts!
      It also had hydraulic-actuated ignition as well, all driven by the valve system. Pretty amazing stuff. With the computer systems we have now, such a system could be a fuel-sipping commuter one minute and retune itself into a firebreather the next. Pretty fantastic.

  4. Dave the Bartender

    My running buddy, “Just Adam” will have his Tucker (#48) on the Power Tour this year ! Stop by the Pilot Transport in Madison, take a look at it and tell him or his Dad that Dave the Bartender sent ya !

    He tested it out last week on the expressway at 70 mph and it is ready to go. I have a video to prove it !

    Kudo’s to them sharing thier car with more than just the Pebble Beach crowd !

    You heard it first here DTB

  5. Scott Inman

    I know where another Tucker is sitting in a personal collection with a spare engine as well. I was allowed to take picture only if I promised not to publish them any where. Also in the collection was a 1929 and 1932 Duesenburg and 1937 Packard,also 1930’s Cadillacs, many old 1920′ engines, bicycles and other memorabilia. He also has the 1934 Indianapolis 500 winner that was driven by Bill Cummings. I will try to get permission to publish the photos

  6. Scott Liggett

    Brian, next time you fly into LAX, run next door to El Segundo to the Automobile Driving Museum. They have Preston Tucker’s own Torpedo. I think it may have the Cord transaxle due to it having the small shifter just like the Cords had. It’s only 15 minutes from the terminals, so it’s close enough to run to during a lay over.

  7. Lee

    Revolutionary . . .and complicated. Making repair on the car in the event of an accident would be a nightmare, especially the cooling system. Lots of long run plumbing their. I am faciniated by the body off frame. I have never seen what was underneath a Tucker body. It definitely looks strong – a lot stronger than what the Big 3 were using back then.

    Were the Big 3 scared of the Tucker? Maybe. And then again maybe not. They had seen so many car companies birthed and died before Tucker emerged. If he was successful, then one of them might have bought him out or just joined him into their stable of cars. Each of the Big 3 were a conglomeration of multiple car brands . . . what’s one more?

  8. TheSilverBuick

    Great pictures! I was just looking over one of these at the Reno Automobile Museum yesterday.

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