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Tucker Corporation - Automotive Stock Certificate - Only 50 Tucker Cars were Made

Inv# AG1752   Stock
Tucker Corporation - Automotive Stock Certificate - Only 50 Tucker Cars were Made
State(s): Delaware
Years: 1940's
Color: Green

Stock with printed signature of Preston Tucker as president. Printed by Security Banknote Company. Portrait and biography included.

Preston Thomas Tucker (September 21, 1903 – December 26, 1956) was an American automobile entrepreneur.

He is most remembered for his Tucker 48 sedan, initially nicknamed the "Tucker Torpedo", an automobile which introduced many features that have since become widely used in modern cars. Production of the Tucker '48 was shut down amidst scandal and controversial accusations of stock fraud on March 3, 1949. The 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on Tucker's spirit and the saga surrounding the car's production.

Preston Tucker was born on September 21, 1903, on a peppermint farm near Capac, Michigan. His father was a railroad engineer named Shirley Harvey Tucker (1880-1907). His mother was Lucille Caroline (née Preston) Tucker (1881-1960). He grew up outside Detroit in the suburb of Lincoln Park, Michigan. Tucker was raised by his mother, a teacher, after his father died of appendicitis when Preston was 2 years old. First learning to drive at age 11, Tucker was obsessed with automobiles from an early age. At age 16, Preston Tucker began purchasing late model automobiles, repairing/refurbishing them and selling the cars for a profit. He attended the Cass Technical High School in Detroit, but he quit school and landed a job as an office boy for the Cadillac Motor Company, where he used roller skates to make his rounds more efficiently. In 1922, young Tucker joined the Lincoln Park, Michigan, police department (against the pleas of his mother), his interest stirred by his desire to drive and ride the fast, high-performance police cars and motorcycles. His mother had him removed from the force, pointing out to department officials that at 19, he was below the department's minimum required age.

Tucker and his new wife, Vera (married in 1923 at 20), then took over a 6-month lease on a gas station near Lincoln Park, running the station together. Vera would run the station during the day while Preston worked on the Ford Motor Company assembly line. After the lease ran out, Tucker quit Ford and returned to the police force again, but in his first winter back he was banned from driving police vehicles by the force after using a blowtorch to cut a hole in the dashboard of a cruiser to allow engine heat to warm the cabin.

During the last couple of months at the gas station, Tucker began selling Studebaker cars on the side. He met an automobile salesman, Michael Dulian, who later became sales manager for the Tucker Car Corporation. Dulian hired Tucker as a car salesman at his Detroit dealership. Tucker did very well, but the dealership was a long drive from his Lincoln Park home and so Tucker quit and returned to the police force for the last time. A few months later, Dulian, still impressed with Tucker's immediate success as a salesman, invited Tucker to move south with him to Memphis, Tennessee, to work as a sales manager. Dulian was transferred a couple of years later, but Tucker stayed in Memphis and was a salesman for Ivor Schmidt (Stutz) and John T. Fisher Motor Company (Chrysler), where he became general sales manager. While managing Chrysler sales in Memphis, Tucker made a connection with Pierce-Arrow. In 1933, Tucker moved to Buffalo, New York, and became regional sales manager for Pierce-Arrow automobiles, but after only two years, he moved back to Detroit and worked as a Dodge salesman for Cass Motors.

During the early 1930s, Tucker began an annual one-month trek to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Having a heavy interest in the race cars and their designers, Tucker met Harry Miller, maker of more Indianapolis 500-winning engines than any other during this period. Tucker moved to Indianapolis to be closer to the racing car development scene and worked as the transportation manager for a beer distributor, overseeing the fleet of delivery trucks for the company.

A better engineer than businessman, Miller declared bankruptcy in 1933 and was looking for new opportunities. Tucker persuaded Miller to join him in building race cars, and they formed "Miller and Tucker, Inc." in 1935. The company's first job was building 10 souped-up Ford V-8 racers for Henry Ford. The time to develop and test the cars was insufficient, however, and the steering boxes on all entrants overheated and locked up, causing them to drop out of the race. The design was later perfected by privateers, with examples running at Indy through 1948. Miller and Tucker, Inc. continued race car development and various other ventures until Miller's death in 1943. Tucker was close friends with Miller and even helped Miller's widow pay for her husband's funeral costs. While working with Miller, Tucker met the Chevrolet brothers and chief mechanic/engineer John Eddie Offutt, who would later help Tucker develop and build the first prototype of the Tucker '48. Tucker's outgoing personality and his involvement at Indianapolis made him well known in the automotive industry by 1939.

In late 1937, while recovering in an Indianapolis hospital from an appendectomy, Tucker was reading the news about war looming on the horizon in Europe. He got the idea of developing a high-speed armored combat vehicle. In 1939, Tucker moved his family back to Michigan and bought a house and property in Ypsilanti. He remodeled an old barn on his property and began and operated a machine shop called the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, planning to use the facility to develop various automotive products.

Opportunity arose for Tucker from the Dutch government, who wanted a combat vehicle suited to the muddy Dutch terrain. Continuing his working relationship with Harry Miller, Tucker began designing a narrow-wheelbase armored combat car powered by a Miller-modified Packard V-12 engine. The car was nicknamed the "Tucker Tiger".

At least one prototype of the combat car was built. Production of the car was to be done at the Rahway, New Jersey, factory owned by the American Armament Corporation. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in the spring of 1940 before Tucker could complete the deal, and the Dutch government lost interest, so he completed the prototypes and opted to try to sell the vehicle to the U.S. government. The car is said to have reached 100 mph (161 km/h), far in excess of the design specifications. The U.S. military felt the vehicle was too fast and had already committed to other combat vehicles. The highly mobile, power-operated gun turret featured on the Tucker combat car, which became known as the "Tucker Turret", earned the interest of the U.S. Navy. Harry Miller would later take some of the designs from the Tucker Combat Car to American Bantam, where he was involved in the development of the first Jeep.

The Tucker Turret was soon in production (initially at Tucker's Ypsilanti machine shop). While the turret is often reported to have been used widely on bombers, like the B-17 and B-29, it was actually developed for a different bomber, the Douglas B-18 Bolo. In the end no Tucker turrets equipped any bombers. Tucker's patent and royalty rights were confiscated by the US and Tucker was embroiled in lawsuits for years trying to recoup royalties for use of his patents on the turret.

In 1940, Tucker formed the Tucker Aviation Corporation, with the goal of manufacturing aircraft and marine engines. The corporation (Tucker's first) was initially based at his shop behind his Michigan home. A public corporation with stock certificates issued, Tucker raised enough to develop the design for a fighter aircraft, the Tucker XP-57, which earned the interest of the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Development of a single prototype of the airplane was started, powered by a straight 8-cylinder engine developed/influenced by Harry Miller, called the Miller L-510. Nicknamed the "Peashooter", this fighter competed for WWII government war contracts. However, financial problems within the company slowed the development of the prototype and the USAAC allowed the contract to lapse.

During World War II, Tucker became associated with Andrew Jackson Higgins, builder of Liberty ships, PT boats and landing craft. Higgins acquired Tucker Aviation Corporation in March 1942, and Tucker moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, to serve as a vice-president of Higgins Industries, specifically in charge of the Higgins-Tucker Aviation division. This entity was to produce gun turrets, armament, and engines for Higgins' torpedo boats. This relationship did not work out and Tucker severed his association with Higgins in 1943. Higgins referred to Preston Tucker as "The world's greatest salesman. When he turns those big brown eyes on you, you'd better watch out!"

After 1943, Tucker moved back to Michigan, intending to start his own auto company, the Tucker Corporation.

After the war, the public was ready for totally new car designs, but the Big Three Detroit automakers had not developed any new models since 1941, and were in no hurry to introduce them. That provided great opportunities for new small, independent automakers who could develop new cars more rapidly than the huge legacy automakers. Tucker saw his opportunity to develop and bring his "car of tomorrow" to market. Another small automaker, Studebaker, was first with an all-new postwar model, but Tucker took a different tack, designing a safety car with innovative features and modern styling.

Tucker's first design appeared in Science Illustrated magazine in December 1946, showing a futuristic version of the car with a hydraulic drive system designed by George Lawson, along with a photo of a 1/8 scale model blown up to appear full sized, titled the "Torpedo on Wheels". That was only an early rendering of the proposal, with its design features yet to meet reality, but the motoring public was now excited about the Tucker.

To finish the prototype design and get construction under way, Tucker hired famed stylist Alex Tremulis, previously of Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg, on December 24, 1946, and gave him just six days to finalize the design. On December 31, 1946, Tucker approved Tremulis's preliminary design. Tucker's future-car became known as the "Tucker Torpedo" from the first Lawson sketch; however, not desiring to bring to mind the horrors of WWII, Tucker quickly changed the name to the "Tucker '48". With Tremulis's design sketch, a full-page advertisement was run in March 1947 in many national newspapers claiming "How 15 years of testing produced the car of the year". Tucker said he had been thinking about the car for 15 years. The second advertisement described specifically many of the innovative features Tucker proposed for his car, many of which would not make it to the final car. This advertisement had the public very excited about this car, but Tucker had much work to do before a prototype was ready to be shown.

To finalize the design, Tucker hired the New York design firm J. Gordon Lippincott to create an alternate body. Only the front end and horizontal taillight bar designs were retained for the final car. Another car, a sportier version of the Tucker '48 called the Tucker Talisman, was sketched as well but never left the drawing board.

To diversify his corporation, Tucker imported Italian engineer Secondo Campini, who was well known and respected in the aviation industry. He was put in charge of pursuing a US Air Force development contract, hoping to use Tucker's huge Chicago factory to someday build more than just cars. Campini and Tucker also began developing plans for a gas turbine-powered car to be produced by Tucker.

The Tucker Export Corporation was also formed, based in New York, which was established as an entity to manage worldwide sales of Tucker's cars. Headed by Tucker's long-time friend, Colombian Max Garavito, distributorships were set up internationally, including South America and South Africa.

Tucker assembled a group of leaders for his corporation that read like a "who's who" of the automotive industry:

Fred Rockelman; Tucker VP and Sales Director (Formerly president of Plymouth)
Hanson Brown; Executive VP (Formerly VP for General Motors)
KE Lyman; Development engineer (Formerly of Bendix Corporation and Borg-Warner)
Ben Parsons; Tucker engineering VP and chief engineer (International fuel injection expert)
Lee S. Treese; VP of manufacturing (Formerly a Ford executive)
Herbert Morley; (Borg-Warner plant manager)
Robert Pierce; VP and Treasurer (Formerly secretary of Briggs Manufacturing Company)

Tucker and his colleagues were able to obtain the largest factory building in the world, the 475-acre (1.92 km2) Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant, which was later known as the Chicago Dodge Plant, from the War Assets Administration. The facility had previously been used to build the massive Wright R-3350 Cyclone engines for B-29 Superfortress aircraft during WWII. Tucker, thinking long-term, believed this large facility would fit his long-term goal of producing an entire line of Tucker automobiles under one roof.

Tucker signed the lease in July 1946, contingent on him raising $15 million in capital by March 1947. Tucker needed this money to get going, so he began raising money by selling dealership rights and floating a $20 million stock issue through the Chicago brokerage firm Floyd D. Cerf. With over $17 million in the bank by 1947, the Tucker Corporation was up and running.

While Tucker ultimately got the plant, he was not able to move in until September 1947 because of delays caused by counter-claims and disputes over the plant between Tucker and the Lustron Corporation. That delayed Tucker by almost a year, during which time development of the car continued at his Michigan machine shop. Tucker planned for 60,000 cars a year, with 140 per day produced for the first 4 months and 300 per day produced afterward.

Tucker suffered another setback when his bids to obtain two steel mills to provide raw materials for his cars were rejected by the WAA under a shroud of questionable politics.

Tucker's specifications for his revolutionary car called for a rear engine, a low-RPM 589 cubic inch engine with hydraulic valves instead of a camshaft, fuel injection, direct-drive torque converters on each rear wheel (instead of a transmission), disc brakes, the location of all instruments within the diameter and reach of the steering wheel, a padded dashboard, self-sealing tubeless tires, independent springless suspension, a chassis that protected occupants in a side impact, a roll bar within the roof, a laminated windshield designed to pop out during an accident, and a center "cyclops" headlight which would turn when steering at angles greater than 10 degrees in order to improve visibility around corners during night driving.

While most of those innovations made it to the final 51 prototypes, several were dropped for their cost and the lack of time to develop such mechanically-complicated designs. The low-RPM 589-cubic-inch engine, individual torque converters, mechanical fuel injection, and the disc brakes were all dropped during the design and testing phase.

Having run out of time to develop the 589-cubic-inch engine for the car, Tucker ultimately settled on a modified 334 in3 (5.47 L) Franklin O-335 aircraft engine. He liked the engine so much he purchased its manufacturer, Aircooled Motors in New York for $1.8 million in 1947. That secured a guaranteed engine supply for his car.

The Securities and Exchange commission bothered the Tucker Corporation from its earliest days. The SEC was embittered after small automaker Kaiser-Frazer was given millions of dollars in grants towards development of a new car, and subsequently squandered the money. While Tucker took no money from the federal government, small upstart automakers were under intense SEC scrutiny, and Tucker was no exception.

One of Tucker's most innovative business ideas caused the most trouble for the company and was used by the SEC to spark its formal investigation. His Accessories Program raised funds by selling accessories before the car was even in production. Potential buyers who purchased Tucker accessories were guaranteed a spot on the dealer waiting list for a Tucker '48 car. Tucker also began selling dealerships before the car was ready for production, and at the time of the trial had sold over 2000 dealerships nationwide at a price of $7500 to nearly $30,000 each.

Feeling pressure from the SEC, Harry Aubrey Toulmin, Jr., the chairman of the Tucker board of directors, resigned and wrote a letter to the SEC on September 26, 1947, in an attempt to distance himself from the company. In the letter, Toulmin indicated that he quit "because of the manner in which Preston Tucker is using the funds obtained from the public through sale of stock." Describing Tucker as "a tall, dark, delightful, but inexperienced boy", Toulmin added that the Tucker '48 machine "does not actually run, it just goes 'goose-geese'" and "I don't know if it can back up." In reply, Tucker stated that he had asked Toulmin to resign "to make way for a prominent man now active in the automobile industry." The "prominent man" turned out to be Preston Tucker himself.

In late 1947, a radio segment on Tucker by popular journalist Drew Pearson criticized the Tucker '48, calling it the "tin goose" (referring to Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose") and noting that the first prototype "could not even back up". The first prototype lacked a reverse gear because Tucker had not had time to finish the direct torque drive by the time of the car's unveiling. This was corrected in the final driveline, but the public damage was done and a negative media feeding frenzy resulted. Tucker responded by publishing a full-page advertisement in many national newspapers with "an open letter to the automobile industry" wherein he subtly hinted that his efforts to build the cars were being stymied by politics and an SEC conspiracy. Nonetheless, dealership owners began filing lawsuits to recover their money, and Tucker's stock value plummeted.

In 1949, Tucker surrendered his corporate records to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. United States Attorney Otto Kerner, Jr. began a grand jury investigation in February 1949. On March 3, 1949, a federal judge handed control of the Tucker Corporation over to Aaron J. Colnon and John H. Schatz. Soon thereafter on June 10, 1949, Tucker and six other Tucker Corporation executives were indicted on 25 counts of mail fraud, 5 counts of violations of SEC regulations and one count of conspiracy to defraud. The indictment included 46-year-old Tucker, Harold A. Karsten, 58, "alias Abe Karatz"; Floyd D. Cerf, 61 (whose firm had handled the stock offering); Robert Pierce, 63; Fred Rockelman, 64; Mitchell W. Dulian, 50, Tucker sales manager; Otis Radford, 42, Tucker Corporation comptroller; and Cliff Knoble, 42, Tucker advertising manager.

Tucker publicly called the charges "silly and ridiculous" and hailed the indictment as "an opportunity to explain our side of the story". Tucker and his colleagues' defense was handled by a team of attorneys led by William T. Kirby.

Another publication, Collier's magazine, ran an article critical of Tucker on June 25, 1949, which included leaked details of the SEC report (which was never released publicly). This article was reprinted in Readers Digest as well, expanding the scope of the negative press concerning Preston Tucker.

The trial began on October 4, 1949, presided over by Judge Walter J. LaBuy. Tucker Corporation's factory was closed on the very same day. At that point, only 37 Tucker '48s had been built. A corps of 300 loyal employees returned to the factory (some without pay) and finished assembly of another 13 cars for a total production of 50 cars (not including the prototype).

At trial, the government contended that Tucker never intended to produce a car. Throughout the trial, the SEC report on Tucker was classified as "secret" and Tucker's attorneys were never allowed to view or read it, but it was leaked to the press nevertheless.

As the trial proceeded, the government and SEC brought several witnesses (mostly former Tucker employees) to highlight the rudimentary methods used by Tucker to develop the car; the early suspensions were installed three times before they worked, and early parts were taken from junkyards to build the prototype. Answering back in Tucker's defense, designer Alex Tremulis testified that it was common industry practice to use old car parts for prototype builds, and pointed out this had been done when he was involved with developing the 1942 Oldsmobile under General Motors.

Tucker Vice President Lee Treese testified that Tucker's metal stamping and parts fabrication operations were 90% ready to mass-produce the car by June 1948 and that outside interference had slowed the final preparations for production. This back and forth between the prosecution and the defense continued until November 8, 1949, when the judge demanded the SEC prosecutors "get down to the meat of the case and start proving the conspiracy charge."

Defense attorney Kirby directed attention to automaker Kaiser-Frazer, pointing out that early models of their government-funded new car model had been made of wood and that when this project failed, Kirby stated in court documents that "Kaiser-Frazer didn't get indicted, and they got 44 million dollars in loans from the government, didn't they?" All told Kaiser-Frazer had received nearly $200 million in government grants, but did not produce the car they promised.

After a break for Christmas, the trial resumed in January 1950. The government's star witness, Daniel J. Ehlenz, a former Tucker dealership owner and distributor from St. Paul, Minnesota, testified that he had lost $28,000 in his investment in the Tucker Corporation. However, on cross-examination, the defense used this witness to their advantage when Ehlenz testified that he still drove his Tucker '48 given to him by Tucker and that the car had 35,000 miles (56,000 km) on it and still cruised smoothly at 90 miles per hour (140 km/h).

The tide turned in Tucker's favor when the government called its final witness, SEC accountant Joseph Turnbull, who testified that Tucker had taken in over $28 million and spent less than one-seventh of it on research and development of the car. He stated that Tucker had taken over $500,000 of the investors' money for himself, but never delivered a production car. Kirby rebutted Turnbull's claims on cross-examination, asking for proof of the allegations of financial mismanagement from Tucker's seized financial records. Turnbull was unable to offer such evidence. In closing his witness testimony, Kirby asked Turnbull, "You are not here suggesting these figures are figures of monies taken fraudulently, are you?" Turnbull's answer was, "Not exactly, no."

After this final SEC witness, Tucker's defense attorneys surprised everyone by refusing to call any witnesses to the stand. Defense attorney Daniel Glasser told the court, "It is impossible to present a defense when there has been no offense". In his closing arguments, Kirby became tearful and emotionally told the jury to "stop picking at the turkey," and stated that Tucker "either intended to cheat and that's all they intended to do or they tried in good faith to produce a car. The two are irreconcilable." He then invited the members of the jury to take a ride in one of the eight Tucker '48s parked in front of the courthouse before they made their decision.

On January 22, 1950, after 28 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty" on all counts for all accused. Tucker had prevailed at the trial, but the Tucker Corporation, now without a factory, buried in debt, and faced with numerous lawsuits from Tucker dealers that were angry about the production delays, thus, was no more.

Despite the outcome of the trial, speculation has continued with regard to the question of whether Tucker genuinely intended to produce a new car and bring it to market, or whether the entire enterprise was a sham, designed for the sole purpose of collecting funds from gullible investors. Tucker collectors of the Tucker Automobile Club of America have amassed over 400,000 drawings/blueprints, corporate documents, and letters which they believe suggest that Tucker was, in fact, developing the manufacturing process necessary to mass-produce the Tucker '48. They also point to the fact that by the time of the investigation, Tucker had hired over 1900 employees, including teams of engineers and machinists. At the trial, the Tucker VP Lee Treese testified that they were 90% ready with industrial machinery at the Chicago plant to mass-produce the vehicle.

Preston Tucker's reputation rebounded after the acquittal. His optimism was remarkable; after the trial was over, he was quoted as saying, "Even Henry Ford failed the first time out". Tucker Corporation assets were auctioned off publicly in Chicago. One remaining Tucker '48 car was given to Preston Tucker, and another to his mother.

In the early 1950s, Tucker teamed up with investors from Brazil and auto designer Alexis de Sakhnoffsky to build a sports car called the Carioca. Tucker could not use the Tucker name for the car, as Peter Dun, of Dun and Bradstreet, had purchased the rights to the name. The Tucker Carioca was never developed.

Tucker's travels to Brazil were plagued by fatigue and, upon his return to the United States, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Tucker died from pneumonia as a complication of lung cancer on December 26, 1956, at the age of 53. Tucker is buried at Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, Michigan.

In 1954, a group of investors tried to revive the Tucker Corporation by soliciting investors (mostly former Tucker distributors and dealer owners) for a new car. This effort was led by George A. Schmidt, former president of the Tucker Dealers Association. They developed sketches for a sleek 2-door convertible, but were unable to generate enough support to get it off the drawing board.

Tucker's defense attorney, William T. Kirby, later became Chairman of the Board of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Otto Kerner, Jr., the US attorney who had aggressively pursued the Tucker Corporation, was later convicted on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury, and related charges for stock fraud in 1974. He was the first federal appellate judge in history to be jailed. He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $50,000.

The location of the former Tucker Corporation at 7401 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60629–5818, is now the corporate headquarters of Tootsie Roll Industries and the Ford City Mall (the building was owned for a time by Ford Motor Company). The building is so large that it was split in two, and even with a large open area between the two resulting buildings, each structure is still substantial.

Tucker's 1948 Sedan's revolutionary ideas in car safety helped formulate car safety standards. The Tucker family held on to Aircooled Motors until 1961, when it was sold to Aero Industries. Today the remaining 47 Tucker cars are highly collectible. Some examples in very good condition can command prices of up to $3 million each.

Today, remaining original stock certificates for Tucker Corporation common stock, circa 1947, are valuable to collectors, and are worth more than when originally issued. Over 10,000 stock certificates were personally signed by Preston Tucker, making these the most desirable.

The Tucker 48, commonly referred to as the Tucker Torpedo, was an automobile conceived by Preston Tucker while in Ypsilanti, Michigan and briefly produced in Chicago, Illinois in 1948. Only 51 cars were made including their prototype before the company was forced to declare bankruptcy and cease all operations on March 3, 1949, due to negative publicity initiated by the news media, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and a heavily publicized stock fraud trial (in which the allegations were proven baseless and led to a full acquittal). Tucker suspected that the Big Three automakers and Michigan Senator Homer S. Ferguson also had a role in the Tucker Corporation's demise.

The 48's original proposed price was said to be $1,000, but the actual selling price was closer to $4,000. A 1948 Tucker sedan was featured in the July 26, 2011, installment of NBC's It's Worth What? television show. The car's estimated value at that time was US$1,200,000.

The 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on the saga surrounding the car's production. The film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, is a Tucker owner and displays his vehicle on the grounds of his winery.

The Tucker 48 is often referred to as its original name, the "Tucker Torpedo". This is actually incorrect; the name "Torpedo" was never used in conjunction with the actual production model, and the car's name was officially "Tucker 48".

After World War II, the public was ready for new car designs, but the Big Three Detroit automakers had not developed any new models since 1941 due to the war and the fact their factories were used to produce war goods during the war. This provided opportunities for new, small automakers which could develop new cars faster than the huge legacy automakers. Studebaker was the first to introduce an all-new postwar model, but Tucker took a different track, designing a safety car with innovative features and modern styling. His specifications called for a water-cooled aluminum block flat-6 rear engine, disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, fuel injection, the location of all instruments within reach of the steering wheel, seat belts and a padded dashboard.

Before the war's end, Preston Tucker began working on plans for his new automobile. In the summer of 1944, he hired noted car designer George S. Lawson to style his new automobile. Lawson worked on the project for over a year and a half before his design debuted publicly, beginning about February 1946 and found as late as a year later in March 1947. Lawson was named the Tucker Corporation's "chief stylist" in February 1946, immediately upon the company's formation.

In December 1946, Lawson resigned from the company after a disagreement with Preston Tucker, and shortly thereafter, stylist Alex Tremulis of local Chicago design firm Tammen & Denison was hired and furthered the development of the Lawson design. Tucker gave Tammen & Denison and Tremulis a three-month contract, which expired in March 1947 and was not renewed. The culmination of Tremulis' efforts during this phase of design development was featured in a full-page advertisement run in numerous national newspapers in March 1947. Tremulis' design was based directly upon the work of George Lawson, but incorporated his own artistic flair.

Simultaneous with Tremulis' departure, Preston Tucker hired a team of five designers (Read Viemeister, Budd Steinhilber, Tucker Madawick, Hal Bergstrom and Phillip Egan) from the New York design firm J. Gordon Lippincott, who updated Tremulis' design just as Tremulis had done with Lawson's.

After a month's absence, Tremulis was rehired and the two independent design groups developed full-size clay models side by side in direct competition. Surviving photographs of the two models reveal that Tremulis' clay design remained unchanged from his March 1947 advertisement proposal and was not chosen for production. The passenger side of the Lippincott team's clay model (they submitted two designs), which incorporated the side profile developed by Tremulis prior to their arrival, was chosen virtually intact for the production automobile's styling.

The Tucker 48's evolving appearance in the company's press releases and other promotional materials, combined with suggestive statements such as "15 years of testing produced the car of the year"—despite no running prototype existing at the time—were instrumental in the SEC filing mail and conspiracy fraud charges against Preston Tucker. The SEC, however, failed to prove its case, and Tucker was acquitted of all charges in January 1950. However, the company never recovered.

Tremulis, like George Lawson, was eventually named the Tucker Corporation's "chief stylist," although the first reference to him holding this position does not appear until 1948, after the Tucker 48's exterior styling was completed.

The Tucker automobile was originally named the "Torpedo," but was changed to "Tucker '48" around the time of Lawson's departure and Tremulis' arrival, reportedly because Tucker did not want to remind the public of the horrors of World War II. Despite the name change, the Tucker 48 is still often referred to as the Tucker Torpedo. Alex Tremulis has claimed responsibility for dubbing the first prototype automobile the "Tin Goose," which is presently used in a loving manner but at the time was considered derogatory.

The Tucker was a pioneer in terms of engineering and safety features. A rear engine, rear wheel drive configuration had been employed in Tatras and Volkswagens, and headlamps that turned with the front wheels had been available since the 1920s, but they would have been firsts for a modern American production car. The most recognizable feature of the Tucker 48, was a third directional headlamp. Centrally located, it would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car's path around corners. At the time, 17 states had laws against cars having more than two headlights. Tucker fabricated a cover for the center light for use in these states.

The car had a rear engine and rear-wheel drive. A perimeter frame surrounded the vehicle for crash protection, as well as a roll bar integrated into the roof. The steering box was behind the front axle to protect the driver in a front-end accident. The instrument panel and all controls were within easy reach of the steering wheel, and the dashboard was padded for safety. The windshield was made of shatterproof glass and designed to pop out in a collision to protect occupants. The car's parking brake had a separate key so it could be locked in place to prevent theft. The doors extended into the roof, to ease entry and exit. Each Tucker that was built differed somewhat from the previous car, as each car built was basically a "prototype" where design features and engineering concepts were tried, improved, or discarded throughout the production cycle. The door releases on the interior of the Tucker came from the Lincoln Zephyr. The steering columns used in the Tucker were donated by Ford and are from the 1941 Lincoln. Preston Tucker held a patent for a collapsible steering column design. A glove box was added to the front door panels instead of the more conventional location in the dashboard to provide space for the "crash chamber" that the Tucker is now famous for. This is a padded area ahead of the passenger seat, free from obstructions, providing the front seat passengers an area to protect themselves in the event of an accident. The engine and transmission were mounted on a separate subframe which was secured with only six bolts. The entire drive train could thus be lowered and removed from the car in minutes. Tucker envisioned loaner engines being quickly swapped in for service in just 30 minutes.

Tucker envisioned several other innovations that were later abandoned. Magnesium wheels, disc brakes, fuel injection, self-sealing tubeless tires, and a direct-drive torque converter transmission were all evaluated or tested, but were dropped on the final prototype due to cost, engineering complexity, and lack of time to develop.

Tucker initially tried to develop an innovative engine, with help from Ben Parsons, then owner and president of the Fuelcharger Corporation, and would later be Tucker's VP of engineering. It was a 589 cubic inches (9.65 L) flat-6 cylinder with hemispherical combustion chambers, fuel injection, and overhead valves operated by oil pressure rather than a camshaft. An oil pressure distributor was mounted in line with the ignition distributor and delivered appropriately timed direct oil pressure to open each valve at proper intervals. The oil pressure fed to each valve was "timed" by intake and exhaust eccentrics and measured by spring-loaded plungers. It had large pistons built of aluminum and magnesium castings with steel-plated cylinder linings. This unique engine was designed to idle at 100 rpm and cruise at 250-1200 rpm through the use of direct-drive torque converters on each driving wheel instead of a transmission. It was designed to produce almost 200 hp (150 kW; 200 PS)1 and 450 lb⋅ft (610 N⋅m) of torque at only 1800 RPM. When cruising at 60 mph (97 km/h), it would only turn at approximately 1000 rpm. These features would have been auto industry firsts in 1948, but as engine development proceeded, problems appeared. Six prototypes of the 589 engine were built, but it was installed only in the test chassis and the first prototype.

The world premiere of the much-hyped Tucker 48 car was set for June 19, 1947. Over 3,000 people showed up at the factory in Chicago for lunch, a train tour of the plant, and the unveiling of the first prototype. The unveiling appeared doomed, however, as last-minute problems cropped up. The night before the premiere, two of the prototype's independent suspension arms snapped under the car's weight. (The prototype was extremely heavy; much heavier than the other 48s.) Minor engine problems were fixed, and the car was presentable by the time of the premiere. However, the experimental 589 engine was extremely loud. Tucker told the band to play as loud as possible to drown out the noise. Additionally the high-voltage starter required the use of outside power to get the engine started, so Tucker had the engineering team keep the engine running during the entire event, fearing that the public would see how much effort was required to get the engine started. As the car was driven on to the platform, the liquid coolant boiled over and some steam escaped from the car, but no one seemed to notice.

Drew Pearson, one of the top newspaper columnists of his time, reported publicly that the car was a fraud because it could not go backward and it went "goose-geese" going down the road. Despite the fact that this problem was limited to the first prototype only, a symptom of the speed with which the first car was put together, the damage to the car's reputation was done, and a storm of negative media followed.

Tucker suffered another setback when his bids to obtain two steel mills to provide raw materials for his cars were rejected by the War Assets Administration under a shroud of questionable politics.

Tucker had promised 150 hp (110 kW; 150 PS), but his innovative engine was not working out. The valve train proved problematic and the engine only produced approximately 88 hp (66 kW). The high oil pressure required a 24-volt electrical system, up to 60 volts to get it started, and a long cranking time at start-up. Additionally, the oil pressure required to maintain valve function was not achieved until the engine was turning at higher RPM and Tucker's engineers struggled with keeping the valve train working at idle and lower speeds/RPM. Having wasted nearly a year trying to make the 589 work, Tucker started looking for alternatives.

The company first tried the Lycoming aircraft engine, but it would not fit in the car's rear engine compartment.

An air-cooled flat-6 engine, the O-335 made by Air Cooled Motors (and originally intended for the Bell 47), fit, and its 166 hp (124 kW; 168 PS) pleased Tucker. He purchased four samples for $5,000 each, and his engineers converted the 334 cubic inches (5,470 cc) engine to water cooling (a decision that has puzzled historians ever since). The Franklin engine was heavily modified by Tucker's engineers, including Eddie Offutt and Tucker's son Preston, Jr. at his Ypsilanti machine shop. Using an aircraft engine in an automotive application required significant modification; thus, very few parts of the original Franklin engine were retained in the final Tucker engine. This durable modification of the engine was tested at maximum power for 150 hours, the equivalent of 18,000 miles (29,000 km), at full throttle.

Tucker quickly bought Air Cooled Motors for $1.8 million to secure the engine source, then canceled all of the company's aircraft contracts so its resources could be focused on making automotive engines. This was a significant decision, since at the time of Tucker's purchase, Franklin held over 65% of post-war U.S. aviation engine production contracts. The loss of income was substantial.

With the horizontal, between-the-wheels 589 motor and its double torque converter(s) (and no reverse) drive system out, Tucker now needed a transmission to mate with the Franklin O-335. This motor was also horizontal, but its driveshaft pointed towards the front of the car. It was discovered, after a few sketches were made, that it was theoretically possible to adapt a previous transmission design intended for front-engine/front wheel drive use. This transmission served as a temporary "fix" for a very real problem for the success of the Tucker.

It was discovered that the Cord 810/812's Auburn Gear, front-wheel-drive; 4-speed transmission, with the Bendix "Electric Hand" electro-vacuum shifting mechanism, fit the immediate design requirements needed to get the cars built, and on the road; until a future automatic (Tucker-built transmission) was worked out. This transmission was designed originally behind a standard V-8 engine, and pointed forward towards the front of the car, for the front wheels. However, this transmission came with a poor reputation, following its original use, in the Cord 810 automobile. (In 1936, when the Cord 810 made its debut at the New York Automobile show, the transmissions were so problematic that 810 models were mostly shown without any transmission installed. Problems abounded until the last Cord was produced in 1937.) The Cord transmissions, even with refurbishing, were initially inadequate for the power and torque of the O-335 engine. The Cords lacked adequate lubrication and the main shaft was so long that it warped under load (causing gears to pop out of play), and the gear-teeth were quite weak. Nevertheless, in the Tucker, this transmission worked well enough for the new engine configuration; it provided an adequate (albeit fragile) transmission, with a reverse gear. The company then sent several of its staff, including Preston Tucker Jr., on a campaign to buy used Cord transmissions, for reconditioning; a total of 22 used transmissions were acquired from junkyards and used car dealers. These transmissions were taken to the Ypsilanti Machine And Tool Company. After refurbishment, several were mated to the O-335 and found to work, providing four speeds forward and reverse. It was decided, consequently, that the Cord design, nearly 12 years old, would become the "manual transmission" for the 1948 and subsequent Tucker automobiles. About eight to 10 of the 22 Cords were found to be usable and – since newly made Cord Y-1 transmissions were not yet available – were installed in production Tucker vehicles. Several of these cars, with Cord transmissions, have survived.

Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, which was tapped to recondition the Cord units, began immediately redesigning the transmission for mass production for Tucker. This new design, which had few similar parts to the Cord transmission, still used the same basic indirect transmission design, but had all new gearing, shafts and electro-vacuum controls. Tucker and his engineers modified it, installing stronger gears and lengthening the case. The modified Cord transmission was named the Tucker Y-1 (Ypsilanti-1) and was installed in a few Tuckers. Both also used a Bendix designed electric vacuum shift mechanism with no mechanical linkage to the steering column shift lever. These EVS's had problems of their own with electrical connections and vacuum leaks that hindered shifting, so a new fully mechanical shift design would have been needed, had the Tucker made it into 1949.

To solve the transmission problems with a new final transmission design, Warren Rice, creator of the Buick Dynaflow transmission, was consulted. A unique continuously variable transmission called the "Tuckermatic" was designed, which was strong enough to handle the Franklin O-335's power and torque. It was a simple but effective design, with double torque converters and only 27 basic moving parts which was about 90 fewer than normally required for a contemporary automatic. The double torque converters allowed a continuously variable drive ratio with only one forward gear and one reverse gear which used the torque converters to vary the transmission ratio based on load and engine speed.

The only surviving car with a Tuckermatic installed had a standard column shift lever, with a three position quadrant on the steering column. Up was reverse, the middle was neutral, and down was drive. Due to the Tuckermatic's design, no lower gear selections were necessary, hence there was no need for a multi gated selector like other automatics.

Three versions of the Tuckermatic were made: the R-1, R-1-2, and R-3 (R for Warren Rice, its designer). The first version, the R-1, was not installed on any of the final cars. It required the engine to be off in order to select a gear. The R-1-2 was improved by adding a layshaft brake to allow gear selection while the engine was running. This version was installed on cars #1026 and 1042 only. The R-3 version had further improvements including a centrifugal clutch to help shifting between forward and reverse even further, but it was never installed in any of the final cars.

Because the two torque converters on the Tuckermatic made the engine-transmission unit longer, the fuel tank in the Tucker 48 had to be moved from behind the rear seat to in front of the dashboard for all Tuckers from car #1026 forward, even though only two of them actually had the Tuckermatic installed. This had the added advantage of improving weight distribution in the car.

A Borg-Warner based, 3-speed automatic was supposedly tested and was installed on car #1048 at some point when the company was in business, although no histories written ever mentioned such a drive. That said, Tucker ultimately wanted to design his own transmission for the final car, which came to fruition with the Tuckermatic. In 1949, #1048 was sold at the receivership auction without a transmission installed. Today, #1048 has the 4 speed pre-selector transmission that was used on all but two of the original 50 pilot models. It is likely this transmission was privately installed after the auction, and that the unit was the Ypsilanti-built Y-1 transmission.

Suspension designs, especially the front suspension, had to be changed throughout development. Rather than steel springs, Tucker used an elastomeric (rubber) 4-wheel independent suspension similar to what was used on the race cars he developed with Harry Miller at the Indianapolis 500. The rubber elastomers were developed with assistance from the Firestone Tire Company and used a special vulcanization process to produce a specific spring rate.

Tucker's suspension designs were plagued with severe stiffness throughout development, which, while good for handling, caused front-wheel corner lift when cornering on uneven surfaces. The test bed and the prototype had a double-rubber disc type front and rear suspension, similar to Miller's race cars, which was too weak for the weight of a passenger car. On cars #1001 and 1002 the rear wheels could not be removed without removing the fender or suspension due to the stiffness of the suspension and the rear wheel arch fender design. From car #1003 on, the rear fender shape was changed so the tire could be removed easily. Aside from the fender changes, the rear suspension remained the same from car #1001 on.

Three versions of the front suspension were installed in the cars (aside from the rubber-disc style used on the prototype). Cars #1001–1002 used a rubber torsion tube design, which suffered from severe toe-in during heavy braking. Tucker then switched to a rubber sandwich type suspension (with a rubber block sandwiched between the upper and lower A-arms) on cars #1003–1025, however, this type was severely stiff. Starting on car #1026, Tucker finally settled on a suspension design with a modified version of the rubber torsion tube with the toe-in braking problem corrected.

Original Tucker paint color codes:

  • 100: Black
  • 200: Waltz Blue
  • 300: Green
  • 400: Beige
  • 500: Grey (Silver)
  • 600: Maroon

Original Tucker interior trim color codes:

  • 900: Green
  • 920: Blue
  • 940: Beige

Having raised $17,000,000 in a stock issue, one of the first speculative IPOs, Tucker needed more money to continue development of the car. He sold dealerships and distributorships throughout the country. Another money maker was the Tucker Accessories Program. In order to secure a spot on the Tucker waiting list, future buyers could purchase accessories, like seat covers, radio, and luggage, before their car was built. This brought in an additional $2,000,000.

With the final design in place, Preston Tucker took the pre-production cars on the road to show them in towns across the country. The cars were an instant success, with crowds gathering wherever they stopped. One report says Tucker was pulled over by a police officer intent on getting a better look at the car.

To prove the road-worthiness of his cars, Tucker and his engineers ran several cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in several endurance tests. During this testing, car #1027 was rolled three times at 95 miles per hour (153 km/h), and the driver (chief mechanic Eddie Offutt) walked away with just bruises. During the crash, the windshield popped out as designed, verifying Tucker's safety features were effective. Afterwards, upon replacing a damaged tire, the car started up and was driven off the track.

One of Tucker's most innovative business ideas caused trouble for the company. His Accessories Program raised funds by selling accessories before the car was even in production. After the war, demand for new cars was greater than dealers could supply, and most dealers had waiting lists for new cars. Preference was given to returning veterans, which meant that non-veterans were bumped down on the waiting lists indefinitely. Tucker's program allowed potential buyers that purchased Tucker accessories to obtain a guaranteed spot on the Tucker dealer waiting list for a Tucker 48 car.

This concept was investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney, and led to an indictment of company executives. Although all charges were eventually dropped, the negative publicity destroyed the company and halted production of the car.

The first Tucker produced was a prototype sedan, known as the "Tin Goose". 58 frames and bodies were built at the factory. From these parts, 36 sedans were finished before the factory was closed. After the factory closed, but before liquidation of his assets, Tucker retained a core of employees who assembled an additional 14 sedans, for a total of 50. A 51st car was partially completed. A few of the remaining frames and bodies were built into complete cars specifically #1052 and #1057 (the 1949 prototype with design changes), but the fate of the others is unknown.

In the early 1950s, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, fairgrounds owner Nick Jenin purchased over ten Tuckers, the original Tucker testbed chassis, numerous Tucker parts, photos and documents. He developed a traveling display called "The Fabulous Tuckers". He hauled the cars and memorabilia around the country for nearly 10 years displaying them at fairgrounds and car shows. His display highlighted the questionable policies and SEC fraud investigation which brought Tucker down.

When the cars appear at auction, which is rare, they command prices attained by only a few marquee cars. In August 2010, Tucker #1045 sold for $1.127 million, while Tucker #1043 went for $2.915 million at an auction in 2012.

Complete Tucker 48s #0000-1050 Completed at the Tucker Factory
Chassis number Location Status Owner Engine Transmission Front suspension version Original body color/paint code
0000 Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Intact Swigart Antique Auto Museum Tucker 589 cu in. Direct Drive (original)

Franklin O-335 (after first showing)

Direct drive torque converters (original)

Tucker Y-1 (after first showing)

Rubber Disc Type Maroon/600
The prototype model. Tucker #0000 was the only complete Tucker with Rubber Disc prototype suspension, the 589 engine, and direct torque converter drive (with no reverse gear). After the first showing, it was converted to an O-335/Y-1 at the Tucker factory.
1001 Hershey, Pennsylvania Intact AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 1 Maroon/600
Tucker #1001 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon Cammack's death in 2013, his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1002 Clayton, Ohio Intact Privately owned by Elaina Hill Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 1 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1002 was the last Tucker produced with Rubber Torsion Tube 1 front suspension, which was plagued by severe toe-in when braking and was replaced with Rubber Sandwich from Tucker #1003 on. The rear fenders were also changed from #1003 on to allow rear wheel removal.
1003 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
Tucker #1003 is currently on display at the Academy of Art University Automobile Museum in San Francisco. Sold at Gooding & Co's Pebble Beach Auction in 2014 for $2,035,000
1004 Nagakute, Japan Intact Toyota Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
Tucker #1004 was originally Grey(Silver)/500, but was painted Maroon/600 when it was restored in 1978. Was reportedly entered in two NASCAR races in 1950.
1005 Tallahassee, Florida Intact Tallahassee Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1006 Clayton, Ohio Intact Privately owned by Elaina Hill Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Custom Gold
1007 Tacoma, Washington Intact LeMay Family Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
Tucker #1007 left the factory in the Green/300 with the Green/900 interior trim, one of eight to be produced in green. During the early 1960s, Tucker #1007 was painted a bright red-orange, then later painted black, then lastly painted its present deep metallic blue color in the early 1990s. It is currently on display in the LeMay Family Collection at the Marymount Event Center in Tacoma, Washington.
1008 Chicago, Illinois Intact Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
Tucker #1008 was originally Beige/400 but is now Maroon/600. It is currently located in the Richard Driehaus Collection at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage.
1009 California Intact Lucasfilm Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
1010 Scottsdale, Arizona Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
After being stored in a barn near Tacoma, Washington for 50 years, Tucker #1010 was sent to auction in January 2011 via Gooding and Co. in Scottsdale, Arizona for a starting bid of $750,000. Reports and photos indicate the vehicle is in major need of restoration: the engine was reportedly seized, with rust damage throughout the vehicle and some minor exterior parts missing, including the original hubcaps.
1011 Montana Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
1012 LaPorte, Indiana Intact La Porte County Historical Society Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
Tucker #1012 is on public display at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum as part of the Kesling Auto Collection.
1013 Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Intact Swigart Antique Auto Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1014 Rutherford, California Intact Privately owned by Francis Ford Coppola Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1014 is on display at Inglenook Winery in Rutherford, California, located in Napa Valley.
1015 St. Clair Shores, Michigan Intact Stahls Collection Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
1016 Dearborn, Michigan Intact The Henry Ford Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Black/100
1017 Colorado Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
1018 Grand Rapids, Michigan Destroyed Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Beige/400
Tucker #1018 was damaged beyond repair in 1953 after broadsiding a tree in South Wales, New York. The remnants of the frame are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some body panels are in Roscoe, Illinois with the owner of Tucker #1027. The engine and Y-1 transmission from #1018 are located at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The front end sheet metal from #1018 was used to complete Tucker #1052 in 2015.
1019 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey/500
Tucker #1019 was painted light blue by its owner in 1959, shortly after purchasing the car. It was repainted again a few years later in a metallic blue shade approximating Waltz Blue; this color remains on the car to this day.
1020 Japan Intact Hani Corporation Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
1021 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Black/100
1022 Hershey, Pennsylvania Intact AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Grey(Silver)/500
Tucker #1022 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, Virginia. Upon Cammack's death in 2013 his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1023 DeLand, Florida Destroyed Privately owned   Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Maroon/600
Tucker #1023 was destroyed by fire in 1978 while in storage in a DeLand, Florida warehouse, awaiting restoration. The warehouse burned to the ground. The car's remains were crushed in 1980 by its owner, a founder of the Tucker Automobile Club of America.
1024 Lincoln, Nebraska Intact Museum of American Speed Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Sandwich Waltz Blue/200
1025 Frankfort, Indiana Intact Goodwin Collection Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Sandwich Green/300
Tucker #1025 was the last Tucker produced with Rubber Sandwich front suspension, which was abandoned due to severe stiffness issues and replaced with Rubber Torsion Tube 2 from Tucker #1026 on.
1026 Hershey, Pennsylvania Intact AACA Museum Franklin O-335 Tuckermatic R-1-2 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1026 is the only remaining complete Tucker with the Tuckermatic transmission. Car #1026 was previously owned by David Cammack as part of the Tucker Collection in Alexandria, VA. Upon Cammack's death in 2013 his entire extensive Tucker collection was donated to the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1027 Unknown Destroyed Unknown Franklin O-335 Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1027 was rolled during testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Tucker in 1948. The engine and transmission were removed at the factory, and the chassis was sold at the factory auction. The ACAA Museum used to own some body panels to wrecked Tucker #1018, other parts were either lost or used in restoration of other Tuckers. The car was sold by the owner of Historic Auto Attractions; its current location is unknown.
1028 Arundel, Maine Intact Maine Classic Car Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Beige/400
Tucker #1028 was sold in an auction on April 27, 2019 for $1.8 million to Tim Stentiford, owner of Maine Classic Car Museum. Tucker #1028 is the only Tucker on public display in New England.
1029 Aliso Viejo, California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
Tucker #1029 was Preston Tucker's personal car that he drove for seven years until he sold it in 1955 to Winthrop Rockefeller. Until October 2017 it was located in the Lew Webb's Classic Car Museum in Aliso Viejo, California. In 2018, Tucker #1029 was auctioned by RM Sotheby's in Arizona for $1.8 million.
1030 Los Angeles, California Intact Petersen Automotive Museum Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Black/100
1031 Los Angeles, California Intact Breslow Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1032 Reno, Nevada Intact National Automobile Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
1033 South Paris, Maine Intact Bahre Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Purportedly one of the most original Tuckers in existence, Tucker #1033 is kept in a private collection that is opened once per year in July to raise money for the town of South Paris and to benefit the Hannibal Hamlin Estate where it resides.
1034 Tucker, Georgia Intact Cofer Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1035 Caçapava, Brazil Undergoing restoration City of Caçapava Franklin O-335. Car now has a Cadillac drivetrain Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1035 was exported to Brazil in 1949, where it was eventually kept in a private collection along with 50 other cars. When the owner died in 1975, the collection was claimed by several people within his family. The car had fallen into disrepair since that time. It is currently undergoing restoration, and should soon be displayed at a local museum in Caçapava.
1036 Nevada Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1036 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Monterey on August 15, 2014 for $1,567,500.
1037 Geyserville, California Intact Privately owned by Francis Ford Coppola Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/200
On public display in the wine tasting room at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, California.
1038 Unknown Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
Tucker #1038 was owned by Bernard Glieberman. It was on display in Shreveport, Louisiana, while Glieberman owned the Shreveport Pirates. In 1995, creditors moved to seize the car due to Glieberman's financial problems, and Glieberman's lawyer attempted to steal the car and hide it from authorities, only to run out of gas. Glieberman was eventually allowed to keep the car. The car was sold at auction in August 2006 for $577,500 ($525,000 plus fees) and sold again in August 2008 for $1,017,500 ($925,000 plus fees).
1039 Washington, DC Intact Smithsonian Institution Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
After years in Smithsonian storage, Tucker #1039 was placed on public display in the National Museum of American History in 2011. Tucker #1039 was acquired by the Smithsonian through the U.S. Marshals Service which had previously seized the car in a 1992 narcotics arrest. Instead of selling the car, the U.S. Marshals Service decided to donate the car to the Smithsonian. Currently on loan as of February 2012.
1040 Sylmar, California Intact Nethercutt Collection Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Beige/400
Tucker #1040 was owned by the Nethercutt Collection. It was auctioned by Sotheby's on January 18, 2019, going for $1.6 million.
1041 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Black/100
Tucker #1041 was sold at the Clars Auction on June 7, 2009 for $750,000 ($765,000 with fees).
1042 Memphis, Tennessee Destroyed Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tuckermatic R-1-2 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1042 was sold at the Tucker auction without an engine. Rumors exist that it was used in a "Bash a Tucker" fundraiser in the 1950s or may have been hauled off from its storage location by a disgruntled renter. Its location was unknown until 1960 when it was reportedly found abandoned and destroyed along the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis. A Memphis policeman took possession of the remains, but they were later stolen from his property. Most of the Tuckermatic transmission was found and is currently located at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
1043 Scottsdale, Arizona Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Unknown Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1043 was sold at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 21, 2012 for $2,915,000, presumably the highest sale of a Tucker 48 sedan to date.
1044 Roslyn, New York Intact Privately owned by Howard Kroplick Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
Tucker #1044 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Arizona on January 19, 2017 for $1,347,500 to Howard Kroplick. The car, which had been painted a Root Beer Brown, was restored to its original color in 2018.
1045 Melbourne, Australia Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Grey(Silver)/500
Tucker #1045 was sold at RM Auctions Sports & Classics of Monterey on August 13, 2010 for $1,127,500.
1046 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 (original) / Oldsmobile Rocket 88 / Mercury 390CID Cord Rubber Torsion Tube 2 (original)/Removed for front engine conversion Maroon/600
Tucker #1046 was converted to a front-engine Oldsmobile drivetrain in the 1950s by Nick Jenin for his daughter. In 1963 it was sold to a Mercury dealer in Oregon and converted to a 1964 Mercury Monterey chassis with 390 CID front engine. Sold on eBay for $202,700 (8/20/07) and reportedly returned to original specifications, including a correct Tucker engine. In 2017 it was offered for sale for $2.1 million.
1047 Hickory Corners, Michigan Intact Gilmore Car Museum Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
1048 Hartford, Wisconsin Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic (original)

None (last known)

Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Green/300
Originally with a Borg-Warner 3 speed automatic, Tucker #1048 was sold at the factory auction without a transmission installed. A Tucker Y-1 may have been installed when the car was completed privately.
1049 California Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1049 was sold at RM Sotheby's Auction in Monaco on May 14, 2016 for €1,344,000 (approximately $1,519,850 USD).
1050 San Marcos, Texas Intact Dick's Classic Garage Franklin O-335 Cord 810/812 Rubber Torsion Tube 2 Maroon/600
Tucker #1050 is the lowest mileage Tucker in existence, with 0.4 miles on the odometer.
Incomplete Tucker 48s #1051-1058 Completed after leaving the factory or parted out
Chassis Number Location Status Owner Engine Transmission Front Suspension Version Original Body Color/Paint Code
1051 Butler, New Jersey Intact Privately owned Franklin O-335 Unknown Unknown Dark red
Tucker #1051 was not completed at the Tucker factory, so it is not technically considered one of the original 51 cars. #1051 was purchased at the factory auction in an incomplete state, and was finished in the late 1980s using leftover Tucker parts and fiberglass replica doors. The chassis used to complete #1051 is actually from Tucker #1054.
1052 Aurora, Indiana Intact Privately owned by John Schuler Franklin O-335 Tucker Y-1 Unknown Dark red
Tucker #1052 was not completed at the Tucker factory, so it is also not technically considered one of the original 51 cars. Tucker #1052 was a test chassis used at the factory for testing automatic transmission designs. The car consisted of only the chassis, driveline, suspension, dashboard, and seats. The car was completed in 2015 by Tucker enthusiast John Schuler using parts he collected over many years, along with front sheetmetal sourced from Tucker #1018. Reproduction floor pans, roof and rear doors were used.
1053 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1054 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
The chassis of Tucker #1054 was used to complete Tucker #1051.
1055 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1056 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
1057 Rowlett, Texas Intact Privately owned by Accelerate Auto Group Franklin O-335 Cord 610/812 Unknown Waltz Blue/200
Tucker #1057 was the prototype being worked on by Tucker designer Alex Tremulis for the 1949 model year and may be the only 1949 model still in existence. #1057 was one of eight incomplete body shells (believed to be #1051–1058) left on the assembly line at the time the Tucker plant was closed. Photos from the factory show #1057 was being built with a "wrap around rear window" as one of the 1949 year design changes. #1057 was eventually converted into a convertible, completed in 2010, and, as of 2021, is up for auction in Rowlett, Texas for a starting bid of $2,595,000.
1058 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

In 1997, Rob Ida Automotive started work on a replica of the Tucker 48, which culminated in the release and marketing of the 2001 Ida Automotive New Tucker 48. This replica faithfully recreates the Tucker's external bodywork, but is built on a hotrod chassis with resin-infused plastic body panels. The paint and wheels reflect modern hotrod styling, and the interior is fully modernized. It is powered by a mid-mounted Cadillac Northstar V8. Its claimed performance is 0–60 in 7 seconds, with a top speed in excess of 120 mph (190 km/h). Ida has built three Tucker replicas.

Several Tuckers were entered in the NASCAR Grand National series in the 1950s.

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Condition: Extremely Fine

A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.

Item ordered may not be exact piece shown. All original and authentic.