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Of the 51 Tucker automobiles built, John Schuler’s car is number 52.
It’s not new math, but Schuler’s car will be a new addition to the roster of whole Tuckers. However, its parts have been around since Tucker stopped assembling cars in the Windy City in 1948.
When the inventory of the Tucker Corp. was counted car by car and piece by piece under court order on March 3, 1949, the company listed 38 drivable cars, an additional 13 more cars that awaited final assembly and truckloads of parts: test chassis, and new interior and body and mechanical parts that were intended to be used in construction of new cars that never were — at least until 2013. (Read more here.) Parts such as a chassis and firewall stamped with the serial number “1052.”
A group of those Tucker parts floated among well-known hobbyists for decades, including in the hands of Tucker Automobile Club of America co-founder Stan Gilliland. When they landed with Schuler about four years ago, they finally began to come together as one.
“I think it’s pretty great that somebody is taking the effort [to assemble this car] 65 years after the fact,” said Jay Follis, former president of the Tucker Automobile Club of America Inc., and director of the Tucker Historical Collection and Library at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Mich.
Schuler has charged Classic & Exotic Service, Inc. of Troy, Mich., with the assembly of his Tucker, which also uses some used parts in its construction. The foundation for the car is test chassis No. 3, which Follis said was shown in Tucker film footage driving around the plant with passengers on its two bench seats behind a cowl. This chassis was used to test an automatic transmission, although a Tucker Y1 unit will be employed in Schuler’s soon-to-be-completed car. The front clip for Schuler’s Tucker came from Tucker No. 1018, which was wrecked in Pennsylvania during the 1950s, and the engine is a used unit from another Tucker that received a new powerplant unit during its restoration. The vast majority of the remaining parts are never-used parts from the Tucker Corp. parts bin: a hood, front doors, quarter panels, engine cover, bumpers, speedometer, etc.
“It was pretty much in pieces,” Schuler said, “it was a basket case.”
There are thousands of pieces to an automobile, so fortunately, the car came with many of the small parts, too, such as door handles and windshield wiper motor. However, a few parts had to be made in the restoration.
“I believe the most difficult part [of the restoration] was making the rear doors and the sheet metal for the roof,” Schuler said. “Brian Joseph made that and has done a good job on it. He had Gilmore’s [Car Museum] Tucker there [at his shop] and they used templates and patterns off of it to build these parts.”
Once the Tucker is completed in early 2014, Schuler will have finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of owning a Tucker.
“I have been fascinated with buying a Tucker since I was a kid,” he said. “I saw their ads in the newspaper and they were neat. I wish I had gotten involved in the Tucker earlier. I would have had a car years ago.”
With the completion of Schuler’s car, Follis believes the inventory of remaining original Tucker parts cannot support the build of another new Tucker. Schuler’s car will, effectively, be the last Tucker. Like the “Tin Goose” Tucker prototype, the last will be maroon.
“The reason for painting it that color is the singer Sofie Tucker, who was the last of the Red Hot Mommas,” Schuler said. “So my wife thought we should call our car ‘Sofie’ because she will be the last of the red hot Tuckers.”