AUBURN — A rare 1948 Tucker automobile is now on temporary exhibit at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum!
The car bears serial number 1047, engine number 33554 and is exhibited through the courtesy of the Gilmore Car Museum of Hickory Corners, Mich. It is one of only 48 surviving Tuckers, of the 51 produced, and is one of the last 13 cars completed at the factory by laid off Tucker employees working gratis in an effort to get the company back on its feet following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The last complete car off the line was #1050.
Advertisements touted the Tucker’s advantages of a rear engine, precision weight balance, individual wheel suspension, dependable ignition, lower frame line and three individual exhaust pipes on each side. Ads lauded the Tucker’s safety features, including the distinguishing Cyclops headlight in front, that turned with the front wheels. Other safety features were the armor-plate glass windshield, which ejected in one piece in case of collision, steel bulkheads in the front trunk and a ship-inspired tapered frame to deflect collision forces, a sponge rubber crash board on the dash, seat belts, and a steel bulkhead safety chamber on the right front side, where the driver and passenger could theoretically dive for protection during an accident.
The car was also marketed to women for its ease of entry and exit, no center bump for the drive shaft, plenty of rear-seat room for shopping bags and a convenient glove box in the front passenger door.
The Tucker is powered by a rear mounted Air-Cooled Motors 166 horsepower Franklin Helicopter engine, converted to water cooling and adapted to a Cord 810/812 transmission. The first 12 Tucker cars used actual rebuilt Cord 810/812 transmissions, but later models such as this one used Tucker-built transmissions based on the Cord design. The engine is built of seven aluminum castings.
Tucker’s car received praise and good reviews from automobile magazines, which displeased the Big Three automakers, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. One theory is that the three companies conspired to bring Tucker down by influencing a Michigan congressman to file a complaint with the Securities Exchange Commission and leak it to the press.
Tucker’s stock price fell from $5 to almost nothing when the news got out. Tucker and seven of his associates were charged with 31 counts of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud. They were eventually cleared of all charges, but the damage was too severe to the Company, which went into receivership in March 1949.
The Tucker story, made famous in a movie of the same name, is Preston Tucker’s legacy as one of the most famous and admired auto manufacturers of the 20th century. He dreamed of building a revolutionary automobile that would change the car industry forever.
Visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum – where the world’s finest cars of yesterday live today. More than classic, antique, vintage and special interest cars are displayed with other automotive related exhibits on three floors. The museum is located in the original 1930s national headquarters of the legendary Auburn Automobile Company and is a National Historic Landmark. The museum is open 362 days a year from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information, visitvisit automobilemuseum.org.
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