Tucker, Take Two
I was happy enough to have sat – or even moved ever so slightly – within a 1948 Tucker the other week, but the folks at RM Auctions called me back for more.
After their mechanics jumped upon the shapely sedan following last week’s event, the issue (a brake-adjusting starwheel was stuck) was resolved, and the Torpedo was once again ready to roll.
That’s not to say this car wasn’t well-sorted to start.; This is the fourth Tucker to have been completely restored by RM’s team in Canada.; It’s safe to say they know their Tucker, for car #38 is absolutely immaculate.
But as gorgeous as the car may be, I wasn’t there just for its looks – I was there for a quick ride.; The ride around Oakland University’s campus was, as an enthusiast, painfully short, but it was a thrill to be up and moving within Preston Tucker’s dream machine.
That big 5.5-liter flat-six out back only makes 160 hp, but it was rather big on torque – enough so that the 4200-lb Tucker moved quite well through first and second gears, and could reportedly hit a top-end of 120 mph.;
The Cord-based pre-selector gearbox functions well today – so long as you’re not hoping to power-shift the car.; One doesn’t ‘row’ through the gears per se; instead, you’re relegated to shift and wait for your desired cog to engage.
But the ride is quite comfortable – as previously noted, passengers have hordes of space within the car, and thanks to some oft-overlooked ingenuities.; Controls are all placed within easy reach of the driver’s left hand, allowing the typical cross-car dashboard to be eliminated in favor of extra legroom.
That also perpetuated Preston Tucker’s call for the car to be safe, eliminating the deadly impact surface of a solid-steel dashboard.; Other features – including a pop-out windshield and the famed pivoting center headlamp – also placed the Tucker ahead of its competitors.
Those competitors may have outlived the Tucker, but even today, few have truly offered automobiles anywhere as innovative.