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Why are Tuckers so expensive??


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There's a reason why all the old-time collectors ignored them, and still do today (while Ed said there was only one big-time longtime collector that had one, I can think of two: Nethercutt and Bahre). I personally would much rather have a same-year Buick or Cadillac. I'm not a bathtub Packard fan, but even a '48 Packard, in my opinion, is more attractive. Walt ... you and I usually agree, but I'm with Al San on this one. I'm not speaking as an "expert" here, and I really don't think anyone else is speaking as an expert. Just opinions, and we all have them. However, many of us have been in the hobby for 60-plus years, so I usually put a little more weight on those who knew the cars "before the movie."

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8 hours ago, Walt G said:

Supply and demand with only 48 being made has a lot to do with the $ value currently...
The Tucker has a Franklin engine made in Liverpool, NY that was eventually used in Helicopters
Before you put something down perhaps do a bit more research...

• Tucker built 1 prototype and 50 'production cars; that's 51. Add to that 2 'continuation' cars, and the total rises to 53. 4 are gone today. 
• Air-Cooled's flat 6 was already in helicopters; the company was bought by Tucker to insure supply and adopted to water-cooling/ operation in a horizontal mounting. This was to facilitate production, as the 589 (!!) CI flat six Tucker scratch-built for the car had teething problems that would have taken too long to iron out. 
• IMO, the car is far more than merely having a rear engine / the movie. There are numerous advanced engineering bits and unconventional thinking, and a great many features and guiding principals showed up in the industry and are still in use. Many would say it was the 'Tesla' of the 40s- with wide-ranging influence.

 

IMG_0214.jpg

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The link I provided makes for some fascinating reading ....

 

Regarding the proven design of his car:

 

75595D04-CDBA-4AAD-ACF2-4089EF9C77DF.thumb.png.9fd2d7bd3bd89ac397547b4a74081da3.png

 

Regarding his workers:

 

131F03D8-F158-404C-BEC3-F3291BC78F84.jpeg.40837d85b99d725338d81db964705273.jpeg

 

Preston Tucker cut his teeth working for several auto manufacturers.

 

I believe he was innovative - ingenious - charismatic - successful.

 

Had he been allowed to remain in business - his cars would have progressed and helped shape automotive history even further.

 

 

Jim

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3 hours ago, Locomobile said:

 

That in itself would be a turn off for most buyers, a vehicle with a converted engine to work in their new car. I think the question would be, "couldn't these people spend a few dollars and have some new cylinder castings made? What else did they scrimp on or cut corners with? "" People are pretty fickle about that sort of thing, like when it was discovered Oldsmobiles were allegedly being sold with Chevrolet engines or vise-versa, it was a big scandal with people demanding new engines or their money back.

 

-Ron

 

Like those crappy Cords and Duesenbergs with Lycoming engines in them? You know, the same company that made aircraft engines?

 

Or those crummy low-rent DuPonts, Peerlesses, and--gasp--Locomobiles that used Continental engines, the same company that made engines used in lowly delivery trucks?

 

I don't think a former helicopter engine converted to liquid cooling would have been a turn off to Tucker buyers any more than batteries in a Toyota Prius are a turn-off to those buyers. It was probably part of the reason they bought it (or would have).

 

I know I'm not going to change any minds on the Tucker. I think they're cool and worthy. You don't have to agree. That's OK. It's why car shows are full of stuff that you dig as well as stuff you wonder why in the world it still survives. SOMEONE loves it, that's all that matters. A Tucker will remain on my list of cars that I hope to own but know I never will. Right next to a Duesenberg J and a '34 Packard Twelve coupe/roadster.

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Here's a funny thing about Tuckers. I noticed this years ago, before the Tucker movie even came out (1988). I have seen several articles about Tuckers in antique car magazines, and the cars seem to fall into 2 groups. Those that spent their lives in a museum had very low mileage, usually less than 20,000 miles. Those in private hands usually had 100,000. The owners said they bought the cars as collector's items intending to drive them only on special occasions. But they drove so nice, and handled so well, and were such a pleasure to drive they found themselves driving them more and more. I saw this story repeated more than once.

 

Tom McCahill tested a new Tucker in 1948 and said it made every other car in America look like Harrigan's hack with the wheels off. It was by far the best performing and handling car he had tested up to that time and years ahead of the rest of the industry. Years later he said there was a lot of dirty work involved in putting Tucker out of business but failed to elaborate. He also said he wrote for Reader's Digest and other publications until they came out with articles slamming the Tucker about the same time he wrote in MI praising it. After that he could never sell another article to those publications.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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23 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

Nobody made a move about Studebaker,

Well, they made a movie with Studebakers as the stars!  Maybe you saw the movie, "Tucker, the man and his dream".☺️

 

You thought Francis Ford Coppolla wrecked real Tuckers in the movie? You though he found a warehouse full of Tucker sheet metal for those factory scenes? You saw fiberglass replica parts, racks of them, which were then fastened onto Studebakers  to make Tuckers they could abuse in filming the movie.

 

Dave Cammack had lots of documentation about the film on display in his museum, along with three Tuckers and a dozen or so engines, transmissions, other parts. And the whole top floor had

 the original Tucker blueprints. The original Tucker prototype mule was there too. Sat on 13" tires! With dual torque converters, transverse style.  The piddly amount of his stuff on display at the "Museum which will not be named" does not do his collection justice. 

 

I always wanted a Tucker. They were always out of reach financially, even when one was for sale for $3500 in the late 60s, and $75,000 in 1983 (Bill Pettit's).  Innovative as a Corvair. Dave once said he was jealous of our driving Corvairs (several Corvair clubs visited him and his museum over the years), as we could drive our cars and his Tuckers were now so valuable he could only start them, drive into the alley to wash them, and drive them back inside or onto a trailer. Were not even licensed.

 

So, 48 or so Tuckers left to ever be for sale, almost 2 million Corvairs  made over 10 years. Supply and demand, guess which one is more valuable?😉

 

And I like the bullet nosed Studebakers also, owned a 50 Champion in college, and now own (wife's car) a 50 Commander.👍

 

8 hours ago, Locomobile said:

"couldn't these people spend a few dollars and have some new cylinder castings made?

They did. Why would you think they didn't? This is why the engine said Tucker and not Franklin on it.

 

9 hours ago, alsancle said:

1.  They are ugly.

2.  The build quality and engineering are highly suspect.

3.   They are overpriced in the market by about 500%

4.   Did I mention they are ugly?

OK, I disagree with #1 and #4, but styling is personal. 

#2 is outright wrong. The engineering is very top notch.

#3 is caused by not enough cars to go around to really high rollers who want one. If no one wanted one, they would be as cheap as '48 Fords. Sort of also disproves your #1 and #4 points, although sometimes ugly sells.  See: Aztec, Subaru 360, VW Beetle, Avalanche, Scion XB, HHR, Davis, insert other car you dislike here.........😁

 

7 hours ago, West Peterson said:

I usually put a little more weight on those who knew the cars "before the movie

 

Lots of people I knew wanted a Tucker before the movie came out. That led to prices always being out of my reach....

 

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4 hours ago, nick8086 said:

Look into a davis car.. 

leno-davis.jpg

 

 

Greatly disappointed in Jay on this episode .....

 

Around the 4:00 minute mark he links Davis ( who went to jail for 24 months )

and Preston Tucker  stating “ they both went to jail for fraud “.

 

Preston Tucker was acquitted on all counts.

 

It just shows ignorance continues decades later about the facts concerning

Preston Tucker.

 

Jim

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8 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:
17 hours ago, Locomobile said:

"couldn't these people spend a few dollars and have some new cylinder castings made?

They did. Why would you think they didn't? This is why the engine said Tucker and not Franklin on it.

 

So the design was to use air cooled cylinders for airplane application and then convert them to use water cooling. As I mentioned above, I think that alone would have turned people off.

 

Tucker unveiled the car with no reverse gear as they hadn't had time to make it functional. The press went in to a feeding frenzy about it and all the public knew at that point forward was this new radical looking car couldn't back up. That was a huge mistake.

 

Sorta like when Bob Hope commenting about the new Edsel, he said it "looked like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon" That didn't do anything for sales.

 

-Ron

Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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 My uncle gave me a gold plated Tucker model that he found in the dump after the Tucker crash. There was a whole box of them.

 I played with it ruffly in the 50's and finally destroyed it.

 I sure wish that I had not been such a thoughtless child and that I had it now. (Who knew?)

Edited by Roger Walling (see edit history)
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The first Tucker I ever saw and had the opportunity to examine and learn about was in 1972. There are many other automobiles manufactured by failed car companies that were as innovative, if not more innovative than a Tucker. By the way, Ford and GM never looked at the Tucker car company as a threat and the Tucker car company went out of business for the same reason hundreds of other car companies went out of business.

The only reason we hear of the Tucker today is because of the movie. 

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5 hours ago, Locomobile said:

convert them to use water cooling. As I mentioned above, I think that alone would have turned people off.

 

Didn't seem to affect people buying VW Vanagons. They changed from air cooled to water cooled.

 

As long as the engine runs, 80% of the people would not care what was under the hood.

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I have an awful lot to say about Tuckers.............but as my mother said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Please see the next ten paragraphs below.......

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

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25 minutes ago, Frank DuVal said:

 

Didn't seem to affect people buying VW Vanagons. They changed from air cooled to water cooled.

 

As long as the engine runs, 80% of the people would not care what was under the hood.

Have to keep in mind, Volkswagen wasn't a new company, everyone knew what they were and what to expect from them. In other words, people had confidence in them. The public didn't know who Tucker was at that time.

 

Tucker brought out this radical design with many advanced and unproven concepts, unveiled it with no operational reversing mechanism, immediately started making brash statements against his soon to be competitors. Leased a gigantic building that he hoped they could grow in to. These are all business and marketing mistakes. Most successful manufacturers start small and build a facility which mirrors their market volume and grow with it. Attacking competitors that aren't even competitors yet, is not the way to win the hearts of the public, it's foolish. The car business is tough, one can do everything right and still fail, Tucker was simply reckless and caused his own demise.

 

-Ron

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The original design called for a separate torque converter driving each of the two rear wheels; no gears, or at least no shifting up though gears during acceleration. Doesn't that suggest engineering incompetence? That would waste a lot of energy; power to the wheels being less. Did they intend for the torque converters to lock at a low speed? The fact this would make providing for reverse difficult is tangential; in other words not providing reverse is a big problem, but there is an even bigger underlying problem with the basic concept.

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16 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

Maybe you saw the movie, "Tucker, the man and his dream".

You thought Francis Ford Coppolla wrecked real Tuckers in the movie? You though he found a warehouse full of Tucker sheet metal for those factory scenes? You saw fiberglass replica parts, racks of them...

 

Francis Ford Coppolla now has a real Tucker of his own!

The following pictures were taken when the show,

Jay Leno's Garage, went to visit him for one episode.

(Photos courtesy of Jay Leno.)

image2.JPG

image1.JPG

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Lots of disinformation in this thread. The original Tucker design was for a car with no clutch, no transmission, no driveshaft, no differential and no rear axle. It was to have a large slow turning opposed six cylinder engine with a torque converter at each end of the crankshaft driving the rear wheels directly. There was to be a way of reversing the pitch of the vanes in the torque converter to get reverse. That is why it had no reverse gear.

 

This proved to be impracticable. Instead they adapted the well proven,and excellent Franklin opposed six aircraft engine and designed their own Y1 transaxle. As a stop gap they used a Cord transaxle in test cars. They also hired the man who designed the Buick Dynaflow to design an automatic transmission.

 

Their biggest critic was General Motors who said a rear engined car was ridiculous and impossible. Just before the VW beetle became the best selling imported car in America.  Ten years later they introduced the Corvair with great fanfare.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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50 cars is not production. Have you ever had you hand on one? Last time I was working on one the people who were also helping, all world class mechanics that routinely work on nothing but the most complicated and intricate machines with four wheels all had the same comment and attitude............It was NOT positive. The design...........is terrible, styling is horrendous, fit and finish was poor. Now, if they had managed a production line and built a few thousand, they may have gotten into a groove. Fact is, a Tucker is a footnote in post war cars history...........production as so nill as to be insignificant. It was in the newspapers and magazines back in the day; and it was nothing but an undesirable oddball car that no one really wanted. My father and I passed on one in the early 70’s, for 3500.00

I can’t repeat what my father said about it.......and 99.9 percent of the collectors at the time agreed with his comments. Back then, as today, I wouldn’t walk across the street to look at one. 

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No, fifty cars is not production. Those were pre production prototypes. There is no doubt Preston Tucker made his best effort to bring the car to production,and it was not a scam or a dream. Could he have succeeded? I don't think so. Even if the car was good, and several independent experts said it was, he was trying to make a car comparable to a Cadillac, Chrysler or Lincoln in terms of size and horsepower. If he had been an established auto maker it would have cost more to build because of its sophisticated design. At that price - substantially more than a Cadillac or other luxury car - I don't think he could have sold enough to make a profit or even stay in business. My guess is that at best he could have stayed in business for 5 years or less, selling 10,000 cars a year, losing money on every one, and then gone the way of Kaiser, Frazer, Edsel, and Packard.

 

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• The original Tucker prototype was not the car that was offered for sale, so the 'no reverse' would not have affected any owners. Yes- there was some minor negative publicity, mostly from detractors.


Their biggest critic was General Motors who said a rear engined car was ridiculous and impossible.


😆 GM, 1949 :

49 GM Corsair 01.jpg

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I've read the piece. I still can't help but notice that after all the fanfare about the Tucker from '46-48, and after a Corporation "GM wasn't worried about" closed down, only then did GM undertake a styling & engineering study that produced multiple models and working vehicles, and showed concepts in 1949, before declaring it was all 'no good'. Had Tucker succeeded into long-term production and grew it's marketshare, you can bet the Big 3 that regularly spied on EACH OTHER would've found a way to make a rear engine car work. The Tucker was a lot less complex & lighter than a '48 Roadmaster, despite being nearly identical in size. Less parts & material potentially equals more profit.

I believe, being run by 'car guys' well thru the point of the late '40s, that GM, Ford & Chrysler (well, maybe not staid Chrysler) were a lot more concerned privately than they ever let on publicly. Even the new OHV '49 Cadillac was still down 6 HP from the 6-cylinder (tho same displacement) '48 Tucker, and was massively heavier.

IDK, hard for me to imagine anyone truly finds the Tucker "ugly" (tho I'm not arguing personal opinion). I think they created an outstanding design, that was unquestionably more advanced, stylistically, than everything else in '48:

Screen Shot 2019-05-30 at 6.45.33 PM.png

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I don't believe anyone in Detroit considered Tucker a threat. It just wasn't possible for a new, small manufacturer to compete with the giants in terms of cost, dealership service, etc. At best Tucker could have been a niche product, producing cars in small numbers even compared to the independents like Hudson and Packard. If there was a campaign to sink Tucker I don't think it came from Detroit. It appears to have been politically motivated.

 

GM's Ed Cole did find a way to make a rear engine car work, it was the Corvair. Millions of rear engine cars were made in Europe by VW, Renault, Fiat and others. A rear engine car may have been radical but it was not impractical. Eventually the rear engine design was superceded by the front engine, front wheel drive concept but that was many years in the future.

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When I look at a Tucker it's easy for me to think he took a lot of design influence from Hans Ledwinka's 1930's Tatra's

Some would say plagarized . I say he  wasn't so revolutionary.

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I believe the Tucker concept came from Harry Miller who was a friend of Preston Tucker's. The fluid coupling was already in use on various cars by 1940. The next step was the torque converter which debuted on the Buick Dynaflow in 1948. But, it had already been used on the Hellcat tanks in WW2. If Miller learned about the torque converter at that time, it gave him something to think about. He came up with the idea of eliminating the clutch, transmission, driveshaft, differential and rear axle by substituting torque converters. This would call for a very slow revving, large displacement opposed six cylinder engine with a torque converter at both ends of the crankshaft, connected to the rear wheels. This was the concept of the first Tucker prototype.

This power train required the engine and drive to be mounted in the rear, and the rest of the Tucker layout proceeded from that.

 

If the Tucker resembled a Tatra in appearance it also resembled any number of fastback sedans from Detroit, including the prewar Lincoln Zephyr which was originally designed as a rear engine car.

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2 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I don't believe anyone in Detroit considered Tucker a threat. It just wasn't possible for a new, small manufacturer to compete with the giants in terms of cost, dealership service, etc. At best Tucker could have been a niche product, producing cars in small numbers even compared to the independents like Hudson and Packard. If there was a campaign to sink Tucker I don't think it came from Detroit. It appears to have been politically motivated.

 

Not that they considered Tucker a threat in ‘47 or ‘48, no. Morseso, I believe the Big 3 kept abreast of the car while the Corp was solvent- it had been garnering huge attention. The ‘48 Olds or DeSoto certainly weren’t pulling in that level of attention. The people running the Big 3 should be given huge benefit of doubt as to their awareness of the industry, and any potential newcomers with the potential to disrupt the ‘boat’. After all, all the OEMs had been idly dreaming big during the war, despite being locked into their pre-war ‘clothes ‘ immediately afterwards.

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The auto companies were riding high after the war. The depression was over, they had just had 5 years of running full blast on cost plus contracts and were faced with a horde of customers clamoring for their wares, AKA the postwar seller's market. At General Motors their big worry was being broken up by the government under the anti trust laws because they were too big, too rich, too powerful and had too dominant a position in the industry. In other words it was in their interest to encourage other car companies especially the small independent ones, and not be seen as trying to put them out of business. There were quite a few new car companies started after the war like Tucker, Kaiser, Playboy, Keller, Davis and Crosley (which started prewar). Insiders knew  they could not compete with well established companies once the seller's market ended. This turned out to be true, in later years even such well established companies as Packard and DeSoto succumbed, and none of the newcomers lasted more than a few years.

 

Tucker insiders like Alex Tremulis report that Detroit was supportive of their work. When he needed steering wheels a friend at Ford sent 20 Lincoln steering wheels and never charged for them. I believe the Tucker electrical system was supplied by Delco, a GM subsidiary. Tremulis also said that styling clay was very hard to get just then but friends in the styling studios supplied him with all he needed.

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• The mainstream OEMs were riding high in sales vs. production; a seller's market- sure. Good thing pent-up demand was so strong- the leftovers from '40-41 weren't necessarily that stirring otherwise.
• GM didn't see any anti-trust talk until 1956; their market share in '55 was 55%, it was a relatively moderate 40% in '48.
• The independents really weren't competing with the Big 3; Kaiser/Frazer to a minor degree, but the others mentioned above (Playboy, Keller, Davis, Crosley, and a host of others) weren't offering anything against a GM or Ford product. Tucker was the only full-size family sedan with excellent power & performance... plus it had a very stirring design. It definitely caught the Big 3's ear, without a doubt. What other brand was doing this in 1948?

Screen Shot 2019-05-30 at 11.12.37 PM.png

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