Genuine 1948 Tucker 48 sedan

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This Tucker is said to be No. 46 of the 51 sedans produced
This Tucker is said to be No. 46 of the 51 sedans produced

The story of Preston Tucker and his dream of creating an all-new kind of American automobile following World War II is one of the greatest of automotive sagas, one made famous in the Hollywood film Tucker: The Man and his Dream, starring Jeff Bridges.

Just 51 examples of the radical rear-engine sedans were ever built, and today they are extremely desirable, rarely coming up for sale and when they do, soaring into seven figures in value.  

The Tucker broke new ground in automotive styling

The Pick of the Day is a 1948 Tucker 48 advertised for sale on ClassicCars.com, which is surely a special occasion in itself.   The car is No. 46 of their brief run and accurately restored by a Tucker expert, according to the Auburn Hills, Michigan, dealer selling the Tucker.

“These cars are powered by an aluminum 335-cubic inch, opposed 6-cylinder engine with 167 horsepower and an astonishing 390 pound-feet of torque,” the dealer says in the lengthy ad description. “The power is delivered to the wheels through a 4-speed, electric pre-select transmission. This combination delivered extraordinary performance for the time. Zero to 60 mph was recorded at 10 seconds and a top speed of 130 miles per hour. This was considered a rocket ship in 1948!

The flat-six engine was rear-mounted in an effort to improve traction and handling

“The suspension was also unique. It had no springs. Instead, it utilized rubber torsion units called Torsilastic suspension. This was executed with four-wheel independent suspension, and the result was a smooth and great-handling ride.

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“Safety was a pimary feature of these cars. Pop-out windshields, the first padded dashboard, safety crash compartment and aviation-style doors were all part of the innovative features. There were also other unique attributes, such as reversible seat cushions, door exit buttons instead of handles, rear engine for improved traction, and probably the best-known feature… the Third Headlight, that would light your way into turns.”

The center headlight swivels with the front wheels

The sedan has been the subject of an extensive and exceptionally accurate restoration to factory condition, the dealer says, with impressive concours-level results.  

“Having recently completed a no expense spared, rotisserie restoration by marque specialists and overseen by Mark Lieberman (recognized Tucker technical expert), the result is breathtaking. Every aspect both cosmetically and mechanically has been attended to,” according to the ad.

“The original paint color has been perfectly reproduced from original samples found on this car. The correct textiles and materials have been faithfully reproduced on the interior, creating a cabin with its original feel and appearance. This was an exceptionally expensive and time-consuming process, but the result was well worth the effort.”

The Tucker’s compact dashboard binnacle boosts passenger space

Well-worth the effort indeed, with the ad photos showing a Tucker that looks as it did when it rolled out of the factory 70 years ago.   A beautiful museum piece, all ready for the show field.

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While the asking price is not revealed (with a “contact the seller” notation), rest assured that this offering is not for the faint of heart or light of wallet.  Don’t lowball the seller with a mere high-six-figure offer.  The Hagerty Price Guide shows these with an average value of $1.4 million and going above $2 million  for perfect examples, as this one appears to be.

“Few of these exceptional cars remain in private hands and only a couple of them in this extraordinary condition and correctness,” the seller notes, correctly. “This is for the discerning collector that is passionate about innovative designs, mechanical ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit.” 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

 

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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