Dec 28 2019

Hemmings Blog: Tuckers are more popular than ever, and this 6,300-mile car going to auction is proof

Monday's Hemmings Blog featured an article by Mike Austin on growing popularity of Tuckers and the upcoming auction of Tucker 1034.


Howard Kroplick

Tuckers are more popular than ever, and this 6,300-mile car going to auction is proof

Mike Austin on Dec 23rd, 2019 at 9:00 am

Whatever your opinion on Preston Tucker or his short-lived automobile company, it’s an undeniable fact that his cars carry a strong following. Give plenty of credit to Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream for bringing the name back into popular culture (with a reissue on Blu-Ray in 2018), but the legend has grown even bigger in the last 20 years. Consider that before the year 2000, a Tucker at auction would fetch around a quarter-million dollars. Today, they’re almost guaranteed to fetch a million, and some approach the $2-million mark. Whenever a Tucker comes up for sale people, take notice. Skyrocketing values also mean that expensive, concours-level restorations are now cost-effective. Which makes Tucker 48 #1034, up for sale at Gooding & Company’s 2020 Scottsdale Auction, notable in that it hasn’t been restored, but has fewer than 6,300 miles on the odometer.

“Tucker 1034 is a bit of a celebrity in it’s own right,” says Tucker expert Rob Ida of Ida Automotive. “It’s currently part of a world class collection and gets plenty of use. It’s often seen at Cars and Coffee events and was the talk of Monterey for driving around Car Week during the week of Pebble Beach. This is a very low mileage example of a Tucker 48, with 1,000 of its miles being logged in over the past year.”

This Tucker is also special for its fully documented history. Originally purchased from Tucker’s liquidation sale in 1950 by James Anderson, owner of the Packard Dealership Joy Brothers Motor Car Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It sat in the basement for 18 years, the result of an estate dispute over the dealership. In 1968, Tucker 1034 was sold to Alan Korbel of Wisconsin and then went to collector Clayton Stone in 1978. Stone sold the car (and several other from his collection) to Gene Cofer (who was an impressive collector himself). Cofer sold the car to the current owner through Gooding & Company’s 2012 Amelia Island auction, where it sold for $1.32 million.

The low mileage is notable, says Tucker expert Mark Lieberman, but there are other examples out there with around 20,000 or fewer miles. “The idea of ultra low-mileage cars is less unusual with Tuckers because they’re less reliable and finicky,” says Lieberman, while noting that some cars, such as 1041, have racked up more than 250,000 miles. What makes 1034 special is its high level of originality, “A lot of these cars were left to neglect. They rusted badly and had to be brought back. This is not one of those cars that fall into that category.”

As for the money, Lieberman thinks Gooding’s $1.75- to $2.25-million estimate is reasonable. The last four sales of original Tuckers, going back to January, 2018, all went for $1.6 million or more. The last, car 48, sold for $1.985 million, including buyer’s premium.

A better question is: Why are Tucker’s worth so much, and gaining? Automotive historian Ken Gross notes that Tuckers, in general, are always a big draw. “I’ve put Tuckers in several museum exhibits and they really draw people.” In 2018, when Tuckers had a special class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Gross says they got as much publicity as the Bugattis, Delahayes, and Delages that usually grab the headlines. As for the enduring popularity, Gross puts it on Coppola’s movie, which dramatized Tucker’s struggle to get his company off the ground. “People love the idea of the little guy taking on the big corporations. I think that’s why they’re so popular today.”

Lieberman agrees. “People like the romance of doing something that was never done before, doing something that was different, doing something that was clearly different from anything else on the market. At the time this looked like a spaceship.”

And again, no matter where you fall on the question of whether or not Preston Tucker’s company could have made it, few cars since have so many interesting ideas combined with such an interesting story. As for car 1034, well, it’s only original (or even mostly original) once.

Gooding & Company Photos by Mike Maez.


Dec 28 2019 Howard Kroplick 1:05 PM

Tucker Comments from

Danny Plotkin says: December 23, 2019 9:37 am

Exceedingly interesting car, great attempt by a courageous would-be industrialist, even better example of what can happen when an outsider attempts to duck beneath the felt ropes that cordon off the non-member class. Musk managed to do that when Tucker evidently could not.

keith graham says: December 23, 2019 9:41 am

I love Tuckers, from the time I was a little boy and heard my father recount the showing of a Tucker in Columbus, Ohio.
A friend of the family had a deposit on one. As a teenager I read the Indomitable Tin Goose, over and over. In the 1970’s
I stumbled onto Stan Gililand in Wellington, Kansas of the Cord Parts Company who at that time serviced Tuckers and
owned at least one of them. I saw the Tin Goose with Studebaker “TT” emblems on the door, I saw the Tucker that was rear-ended, another that was stored in a stadium storage room for years.
I love that Tuckers draw crowds in the Concours showings, because the typical fare there of wonderful exotic and classic cars is great, but the average man was unable to ever afford those cars new. On the other hand, here the glorious Tucker was built for the family man, the working man, the returning G.I. who wanted a new car. It was advanced, safety minded, performance minded, affordable. That is a testimony to the greatness and foresight of Preston Tucker, who did on a shoestring what it took the “Big Three” decades & billions of dollars later to achieve in terms of those advancements. It is a beautifully designed car. What is not to love?

arthur bell says: December 23, 2019 9:42 am

I think there is too much emphasis on popularity because of a not very successful older movie. The car design is unique, enduring and many features were new and clever. Yes, the car had a lot of issues but they could have been worked out with adequate funding. But it’s less about the reliability and more about the creative thinking, futuristic features and excitement the car generates even today just looking at it. Preston Tucker was the Elon Musk of the times, or is Musk the Tucker of today?

Gerald Sovinski says: December 23, 2019 9:54 am

My father took me to see the Tucker in 1948. He had just bought a Lincoln. He put his name down to buy one. I picked up to brochures which I still have. Always wanted one.


JTNC says: December 23, 2019 9:55 am

Does anyone know, off the top of their head, if some of the original run of Tuckers were sold to regular customers? (As opposed to being prototypes, test cars, show cars or press cars.) And if so, are there records of who these customers were, and which, if any, Tucker dealers sold them? I saw the wonderful ex-David Cammack Tucker exhibit at the AACA Museum back in June, but I didn’t think of this question until later. Interested to know if any Tuckers got to customers in a normal, mundane way.

Gerald Sovinski says: December 23, 2019 9:58 am

Sorry for the mistake. I did not see it Should have said two brochures.

Bill Joline says: December 23, 2019 10:26 am

What’s not to like. As a Franklin Club member and owner of a couple of Franklins it’s interesting seeing a car powered by the only water cooled Franklin engine. Love them all.

RON E says: December 23, 2019 10:28 am

If you want to see a Tucker with under 100 miles on it go to the Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan (near Kalamazoo). They have over 400 cars on display.

jim r says: December 23, 2019 10:30 am

I found the instrument cluster interesting. The speedometer starts with 0 at the top, I don’t recall ever seeing that on an other car, also it has a battery gauge not an amp meter. Battery gauges are common now on 12v systems but rare to see one for 6v which was the norm at the time.

Bill says: December 23, 2019 10:32 am

I first heard of the Tucker when the first movie came out.
I was an accountant then, I think, and more interested in the “moms and pops” stores/businesses, but especially start-ups.
As is still true today, the vast majority of start-ups fail.
But I was enamored with Steve Jobs’ success, Bill Gates (all came to fruition as I retained my degree) and like all people curious to know things/obtain knowledge; I wanted to know how such a great concept failed. It seemed borderline crazy that it had. And it was a heartfelt loss of artfulness/design/ingenuity; man’s imagination.
As a rule of thumb, you learn in accounting that there are assets and what that means/what they are.
There are 2: Appreciable and
Depreciable (it depreciates).
Land, diamonds, gold, etc. are deemed appreciable primarily due to the decreasing supply of such things. The less of a commodity such as these, the more value they have, and, are; well, ….”more appreciated, if you will (tongue exits cheek). They become scarce.
Cars, RVs, buildings, equipment, etc., depreciate as time goes on, the older it is, the less it’s value (an exception, the only I know of, is the likes of a Wright-architect’d abode, an historical building or structure, also, perhaps) and it written-off over time.
A car rising in value? Really?
That’s incredible ……………and truly one for the ages.

Dominique says: December 23, 2019 10:34 am

Fascinating design indeed, daring and innovative, maybe too much? I agree with the comparison of Tucker and Musk set in the proper context of their respective eras. Why so popular these days? Let me add my own two cents: design (rear engine V8 and more), rarity, the story of Tucker Company itself and the man behind it, the myth of « what if » and inevitably, at least for guys like me, the « who on earth can come up with that much dough for a single car »……not me, unfortunately.

Tim Sackett says: December 23, 2019 11:53 am

Rear engine yes but only a 6 cylinder opposed engine. It was converted from an air cooled Franklin design.

Jorge Colmenares says: December 26, 2019 3:05 pm

Yes, it was a 6 cylinder opposed engine from a helicopter which in my 2 cents would have been greatly cheaper, better and more reliable if they had left it alone as air cooled instead of adapting it to water cooling, I also read somewhere that he wanted an 8 cylinder opposed but at the time was hard to get so he settled for 6.

peter hawley says: December 26, 2019 4:13 pm

Thank you, Jorge, for pointing out this important part of the whole Tucker narrative concerning the Franklin air-cooled engine. I absolutely agree with you that the engine should have been used in it’s air-cooled form, which would have seriously reduced the costly development time & complexity of the water-cooling conversion. The required fan & shrouding would probably have weighed a good deal less than those water-jacketed cylinder bores & heads, radiator & water pump. All that time & money could have gone into a decent transmission/drive system. Isn’t it a shame Preston didn’t know us genius’s were waiting for his call for advice?

Anthony Janik says: December 23, 2019 10:37 am

My Dad put down a deposit and was very disappointed when the company failed – although, as a Detroiter, he was not surprised. I had a number of the brochures and other promotional stuff, but they were lost when our garage burned down. I also lost my collection of brochures, models and promotional items from the various Autoramas and other similar shows that we attended over the years.

L Wood says: December 23, 2019 10:48 am

My SIL follows these and thinks maybe they have peaked. Whatever the value, an awesome car.

john sullivan says: December 23, 2019 11:45 am

Wonder what E M Tucker thought about the car which carried his surname? His Sno-Cats as used by the Trans Antarctic Expedition captivated me ,when displayed in Cardiff{Wales}

BOB ASKEY says: December 23, 2019 11:51 am

Mrs. Preston Tucker suggested to her husband the name of the blue color on the car in this story: “Waltz Blue.” Once I heard this story, I never forgot it. Perfectly elegant: Waltz Blue.

Tim Sackett says: December 23, 2019 11:54 am

Rear engine yes but only a 6 cylinder opposed engine. It was converted from an air cooled Franklin design.

Raymond Paszkiewicz says: December 23, 2019 12:04 pm

Being a car crazy kid from birth, my Dad took me to see the new Tucker ’48 at ,I believe, O’Keefe Motors in Trenton, NJ. I remember not being able to enter the car, but just observing the interior through the windows. It was very exciting for me. I think the car deserves the accolades it receives today, because it truly was a herculean effort to build 51 cars, with a limited amount of funds. Sylvester Motors in Princeton, NJ, a Packard dealership on Nassau St., was also displaying the car.
The very well done movie, by Francis Ford Coppola, perhaps took some artistic license, to make the story more mainstream, but it made people aware, who knew nothing of the car and led to more popularity and knowledge of Preston Tucker. The cars are worth the value they carry today, because of the scarcity and existence of a Tucker Club devoted to the car. The movie also helped.
I have some literature, as well as issues of Tucker Topics, a factory issued monthly magazine, published to keep up the interest, while Tucker tried to obtain more financing. I also have some 8×10″ photos given to prospective dealers. I purchased a Tucker radio head and wiring in it’s original box at the Carlisle flea market a few years ago, and I have 11 1/43rd scale models in all different colors. plus two 1/24th scale, one of which is the original Tin Goose. I have the huge standup 3 dimensional cardboard poster from the movie, showing Jeff Bridges, the car and the factory. I cherish owning this. There have been 3 books written about the man and the car, all worthwhile, to get the full story. If you want to see, just about anything having to do with the Tucker automobile, pay a visit to the AACA Museum, in Hershey, PA, and see their wonderful exhibit. You will learn a lot more. Great story of ingenuity, as only could be accomplished in the USA.

John O’Leary says: December 23, 2019 12:13 pm

I always thought the Achilles Heel of the Tucker would have been the engine supply. Franklin was never a high-volume producer of cars and their aircraft engines were probably mostly hand-built. Ramping up to Detroit-levels of production would have taken a huge investment and a lot of time.

Tuckeroo says: December 24, 2019 11:24 am

I would argue the opposite: the Franklin/Air-Cooled component was actually one of the most efficient parts of the operation (although that might not be saying much). After being defeated for over a year trying to develop the 589 internally, Tucker was desperate for an engine that worked. If not for the 335 we would probably not be discussing how well the car performed for 1948 and beyond. As for production, we estimate at least 125 Tucker modified Franklin 6ALV-335s were built at the Franklin plant. The real “Achilles Heels” to be resolved for serious production were the bodies which were stretched and hammered by hand over mahogany forms (only 50ish complete sets and 58 complete frames) and the transmissions (some were sold with Cord 810/812s, some with Y-1s, two with Tuckematic, and many without transmissions at all.) The “upshot” is if a Tucker needs a new engine it’s “easy” to find a replacement. The drawbacks were 1) the cost: at >$1100 per engine unit for a car that was supposed to retail around $2450, 2) insufficient drainage of the aluminum block (there were 4 or 5 drain bolts) led to many block freezing and cracking – which is why the surplus has come in handy for Tucker owners and restorers. Maybe as many as half of restored Tuckers have engine transplants. Mark Lieberman has also redesigned and manufactures new blocks, heads and fans (as well as suspensions) to improve cooling, valve alignment, etc. He is one of the true heroes of bringing these cars back to life and keeping them alive!

John Kowalczyk says: December 23, 2019 12:15 pm

Hi my names john , and I have a tucker story. I was doing a phone line locate around hauchuca city az. The customer live down a old dirt road. I finish my work, and was backing out of his drive way . I look to my left and saw what look like a tucker car under a tarp. So I pulled back in and ask the customer is that what I think it is? He said with a smile on his face will it is and it ant. Ten he ask me if I saw the name on the mail box. The name was tucker. I turn off my truck and waited for the story. When they where making the movie ,they tried to get all the facts right. Who better than a real tucker. If you saw the movie you remember the car that had to be push on the stage . After the movie was done they gave this car to family member. It is not a real car no engine . You never know What is out there till you ask. john k

Sal Pugliese says: December 23, 2019 12:30 pm

I was present at the 2012 Amelia auction and saw this car in person .. In my opinion, it’s one of the best Tucker’s available, because of the provenance and originality…. both very strong considerations to a serious collector …I have no doubt the winning bid will be North of $2M.

Bill says: December 23, 2019 1:19 pm

Staring at the photo showing the right side and rear I came away thinking this is how a Japanese designer would interpret an ahead-of-its-time, for the time, design. The sloped back and suicide doors that transition into the roofline, good for most any year not to mention the late ’40’s. But it’s the bulging fenders flanking the inset doors, the front and rear grills, along with other random tacked on design bits and pieces that make me think of the Civic Type R. Less is more.

Jack Beehler says: December 23, 2019 1:29 pm

The year was 1962. I was in San Francisco with my family. We went to Sutro’s museum out by the Cliff House. They had so many displays of amazing items. The one out of probably hundreds of items was a dark blue Tucker. It was the first time this 15 year old kid had seen a Tucker. A couple of years later Sutro’s burned down. I have always wondered if the Tucker was moved out before the fire.
Around the same time period I would often see a Tucker parked in the Penguin diners parking lot in Santa Monica, California.
It really caught my attention as the memory still lingers all these years later.
Jack Beehler

Eric says: December 23, 2019 4:22 pm

All of the Tucker cars, I think, have been accounted for. Four of them are known to no longer exist.
The car you probably saw was serial number 1041.
Other links:

Michael Milne says: December 26, 2019 5:17 pm

My story in the July, 2017 issue of Hemmings Motor News highlights all the Tuckers on public display on the USA.

Jeff Guzaitis says: December 23, 2019 7:13 pm

The Tucker in the Sutro museum was sold to Bev Ferrera who painted it light yellow and showed it regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was auctioned locally around 10-15 years ago.

David Holcombe says: December 23, 2019 2:10 pm

Good writing on a special car! Hemmings is THE automotive publication in my life, and I have been a subscriber to Hemmings Classic Cars since issue #1. Oh yes, I own a Tucker. But mine is one of the early 1:43 models by Brooklin.

Dave S. says: December 23, 2019 2:32 pm

Question: Several of today’s contributors have gone into great detail about the Tucker literature they own. Are they hoping to sell their Tucker memorabilia just in time for Christmas? Just askin’.

Bruce Michael Willia says: December 23, 2019 3:58 pm

My father was approached to buy Tucker stock back in ’47.
He thought about it but ended up buying into a little OTC offering by a company called “Disney”
…Thank you, Walt & Mickey!

John Thompson says: December 23, 2019 3:59 pm

In the summer of 1968 I had just graduated from college and my friend Joel and I were driving around St Paul, I think down Pleasant Ave. toward down town. As we passed the Packard dealership we saw this Tucker in the show room window. We stopped and looked at it and heard the story how it had been in the basement of the dealership since new. The car was for sale and as I remember it was $2000. It might as well have been $2,000,000 for all the money we had. I’ve told people about seeing it many times and generally no one believes it. This is a great conformation of my memory.

Larry J. Allison says: December 23, 2019 4:12 pm

I retired from the Borg-Warner Corp. at their automotive division after 37 years of service in 2002. I had a very large customer in Albany, Georgia that had a green 1948 Tucker that he had inside of his Auto Parts store show floor and the name of store I have forgotten as years have slipped by. I got to sit in car and look over very good and at the time did not know it was a rare car as it was in the mid seventies. I lost contact with all and wonder what ever happened to that car. All I remember owner telling me it had a Borg-Warner transmission. Or, over these many years did I just dreamed he said that as he was a die hard on any part he had in stock that had Borg-Warner name on parts box.
Larry J. Allison

Eric says: December 23, 2019 4:28 pm

Quite possibly Tucker number 1048

Peter Kessler says: December 23, 2019 5:10 pm

If Rob Ida reads this: Rob, would it be OK if I visited your shop? I’ve been crazy about the “New” Tucker ever since I saw it at Englishtown at the end of the Hot Rod Power Tour years ago. I don’t want to get in the way or waste too much of your time, but I’d really like to see your facility and, just maybe, see a “New” Tucker.

Tom Kayser says: December 23, 2019 6:02 pm

The Gilmore Car Museum does have a low mileage Tucker. When I was there as executive Director it had 28 miles on the clock. I was told it was because no one could fix the transmission which was electric and was a Cord Tranny I drove it during a movie shoot for A&E, put about 15 Miles on it. Like riding in a buckboard and several times it would not go into reverse. At the time it was dubbed “The car that would not back up.”
The car came out when I was 13 and a new dealership was built in the “old” Town of Lake, a block south of Milwaukee on Howard. It later became a Dutchland Dary store, had a Deli and served REAL Fozen Custard – I made the custard. One evening I noticed a new “Fountain Girl”. Prettiest thing I ever laid eyes on. Next April we will celebrate 58 years of marriage

Rick says: December 23, 2019 9:21 pm

I love reading all the great comments about the Tucker and people’s experiences with the Tucker in their lives.

peter hawley says: December 24, 2019 1:21 am

Wonderful example of a Tucker! However, I must take issue with so many commenters who seem oblivious to the designs of other well-known 1948 cars, most notably the General Motors fastbacks from Oldsmobile (98), Buick (Super/Roadmaster) & Cadillac. The Tucker designer copied most of those cars styling elements with his own unique features added on, such as the central headlight and rear grill. To state that the Tucker “must have looked like a space ship” is ridiculous when you realize that the GM designs were probably on the drawing boards in 1940, and in actual production in 1942! Oldsmobile perfected the design in ’46-’47 with the cleanest, smoothest overall style, especially the beautiful wrap-around rear bumper inset in a stamped depression closely shaped like the bumper. The ’42 Buick Roadmaster Sedanette would have looked more like a space ship, with its sweeping “airfoil” fenders flowing all the way back to the rear fenders, while the Cadillac front fender ended on the front door in an almost identical shape to the Tucker front fender. So, please, no more silly statements about the Tucker design being “ahead of its time”. It was a conglomeration of discordant shapes on a contemporary body design of 1948.

Danny Plotkin says: December 24, 2019 9:18 am

Peter, while I tire of Tucker talk I take small exception to your view that the Tucker, such as it was, copied existing design. Its design followed the general direction forged by Studebaker and Ford with integral fenders and what appears as good air flow management. Yet its rear engine design, though no rear engine had been designed for it, was unique as were many of its advanced safety features whether safe or not. The car was a bowl of promise and hope undergirded by advertising platitudes and unproven pronouncements. I fully understand the fascination with the car that almost was, a story worth telling especially given the backdrop which is Tesla.
If the Tucker design had not been unique, if it had been largely a facsimile of that years Buick or Cadillac, it would not occupy its lofty place in American Automotive and Corporate history, and you would not read the voluminous comments from enthusiastic students of the car and the company.
Danny Plotkin

peter hawley says: December 24, 2019 5:26 pm

Thanks, Danny for your view. My comment was focused on the BODY design where you can clearly see the similarities with the G.M. cars I mentioned (fastback roofline, Cadillac “pontoon” front fender on door, nearly identical “v” windshield, Cadillac rear bumper shape).

Greg Bloomfield says: December 24, 2019 10:13 am

My family had Packards and purchased them from Joy Brothers…little would they have known what a treasure lurked in the basement!!
Incredibly rare car, and a wonderful story…

Scott says: December 24, 2019 11:26 am

Come to central New Jersey. You will find the Ida Family is rebuilding these from the frame up with the original build sheets.

Ken Smith says: December 26, 2019 12:58 pm

My father had a Tucker stock certificate that he had purchased when issued. He passed away many years ago, and I am not sure what happened to it. Would like to have it framed and hanging on my office wall.

Howard Kroplick

Tucker 1044 will be participating in the 2020 Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Stop by and say hello!

Jan 01 2020 Ernie Finamore 9:24 PM

A beautiful example in a stunning color. Don’t know if it’s Mrs. Tucker’s preferred blue dress color ( l believe that wasn’t produced), but the car looks great as it is finished. Thanks again for sharing these photos.
Happy New Year to all of our Vanderbilt friends!

Jan 06 2020 Joe Mottola 10:00 AM

My father used to take me to the Auto Shows in New York City. I believe the venue was something like “Grand Central Palace”. I was 9 or 10. What was a vivid memory was the headlight in the hood. At later shows, I recall the Kaiser-Darren, Chrysler Gaia and eventually the LeSabre and Mauri Rose with the gas turbine Firebird. I recall Hudson’s run as the top stock car winner ang got the autograph of their driver Marshall Teague.

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