Preston Tucker’s own Tucker 48 to fetch at least $1.25 million at RM Sotheby’s

preston tucker 48 sothebys rm sotheby s 1948  lot 137
RM Sotheby's
The Tucker 48 is perhaps one of automotive history’s greatest flops. What started as a big post-World War II ambition to take on Detroit’s booming “Big Three” (General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford) ended in failure from a whirlwind of negative media publicity, and political and economic woes. The story of Preston Tucker and his Tucker 48 also went on to become one of the single greatest examples of corporate arrogance and media exploitation in American history.

Amid stagnant lineups from the Big Three, which provided great opportunity for smaller carmakers to take some of the limelight, Preston Tucker founded the Tucker Corporation in 1944. Prior to going defunct, Tucker produced one model to compete with Detroit’s automotive strongholds. Known as the “48,” named after its introductory year of 1948, only 51 made it through production before Tucker Corporation ceased operations in 1949.

Because of their rarity, original Tucker 48s (a few replicas do exist) are considered quite the automotive gold in the world of classic and vintage automobiles. When a 1948 Tucker aired on NBC’s It’s Worth What? in 2011, it was said to be valued at $1.2 million. Now, world-renowned auction house RM Sotheby’s just announced that a new Tucker 48 will cross its block at Arizona’s auction later this year under lot number 137. Except, lot number 137 isn’t just one of the 51 Tucker 48s made. It’s a Tucker 48, once personally owned and used by Preston himself.

As the story goes for Tucker 48 production number 1029, this specific car was used in the original promotional film The Tucker: The Man and the Car to advertise the vehicle in the fall of 1948. It then served as a test mule for high-speed test runs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Upon retirement from that role, Preston took ownership of number 1029, where him and his family used it as primary transportation for seven years.

Since then, it changed hands numerous times, particularly through some of the world’s most renowned collectors. One such collector was Winthrop Rockefeller, the would-be Governor of Arkansas in 1955 and family member of the esteemed American industrial tycoon, who purchased number 1029 from Preston that year.

Fast-forward to today, and RM Sotheby’s estimates Tucker 48 number 1029 could fetch anywhere between $1.25 million to $1.5 million when the hammer closes the bidding sessions. It includes all original documentation of previous ownerships, along with mileage and service logs that authentically prove its mileage of only 19,199 on the odometer. Over its history, the paint’s been refinished and its interior, reupholstered.

It’s no $38 million 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO from the Pebble Beach auction of 2014. But any car that fetches as much as a house and beyond is still impressive, to say the least.

Tucker shares its startup story with other small-time successes, like Studebaker, who took advantage of the Big Three’s dip in success for not producing new car designs since 1941. Though unlike Studebaker, who took a more conservative approach to designing some of the first all-new, post-war automobiles, Tucker went for a more innovative and revolutionary approach. Preston Tucker insisted on producing a new car with modern styling and a focus on innovative features. For instance, he specified that his new car must have a water-cooled aluminum block fuel-injected, flat-six engine mounted aft ward like in a Volkswagen Beetle, four-wheel disc brakes, and four-wheel independent suspension, and a driver-centric interior dashboard design.

Shady politics and startup woes, however, severely hindered Tucker from keeping his new corporation from kicking off on time and in order. Inconsistent scrutiny and pressure from the Securities and Exchange Commission forced Preston Tucker into a corner, delaying much of the progresses needed to kick off production of his Tucker 48. From these delays, also came production and development setbacks. When the car first debuted, the media harshly criticized some of the original Tucker 48 prototypes for malfunctioning when instead, they were just incomplete.

Additionally, due to the pressure from the SEC and indictments from what were later found to be unsubstantiated and false allegations, more negative press gathered. And despite a full acquittal, the damage had been done and Tucker Corporation closed its doors.


Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

Ford is deploying self-driving cars in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their capabilities to lawmakers and ordinary citizens alike. The automaker plans to launch a production autonomous car in 2021.
Home Theater

'Pacific Rim Uprising,' season 2 of 'Room 104' arrive on HBO in November

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. Follow us to find out what's new on HBO each month. November 2018 brings Pacific Rim Uprising and season 2 of Room 104.
Movies & TV

Title logo for 'John Wick 3' makes its debut during licensing show

The third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, John Wick 3: Parabellum, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about the movie so far.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (November 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in October and November 2018, from new original series to classic films.

Just 10 people will get to put this limited-edition Audi R8 in their garages

The 2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Competition makes use of Audi's motor sports experience to turn up the performance dial. Decreased weight and increased aerodynamic downforce make this R8 a track monster.

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sedan will cost less than a Panamera

Porsche's Mission E concept won't change much as it transitions to a production model named Taycan that's scheduled to arrive in 2019. That means the sedan will keep the sleek design and its 800-volt charging system.

Volvo plans to face the future without sacrificing its identity

Volvo is embarking on an ambitious push to fill its lineup with electric and hybrid cars, as well as an infotainment partnership with Google. Volvo Americas CEO Anders Gustafsson explains how the Swedish automaker plans to pull that off.

Bored with stock? The best tuner cars are begging to be modified

Modification has been around almost as long as the automobile itself. Here are 25 of the best tuner cars you can find, ranging from American muscle standouts to Japanese drift cars.

Tesla keeps promise with more affordable Model 3 with midrange battery pack

Tesla is keeping its promise of making the Model 3 gradually more affordable. The company released a new variant of the car with a mid-range, 260-mile battery option that's priced under the $50,000 mark.

The snake escapes: Ford’s 700-hp Mustang GT500 slithers online ahead of schedule

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will return in 2019 with over 700 horsepower, Ford confirmed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. The GT500 will be the most powerful Ford production car ever.

Volkswagen’s next-generation lights will keep you safer, look good doing it

Volkswagen's new smart LED headlights, called IQ.Light, don't just light up the road in front of you to keep you, other drivers, and pedestrians safe. They also look dang good while doing it.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second electric car will fill a new niche

Porsche surprised us at the Geneva Auto Show with an electric station wagon named Mission E Cross Turismo. Though it's a concept car, it could become a production model after the Mission E sedan arrives in showrooms.

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford briefly flashed an enigmatic new model in a minute-long commercial starring Bryan Cranston. Its front end borrows styling cues from the 2019 Mustang, but it doesn't have a grille and its emblem is back-lit.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!