• Jan 9th 2010 at 6:43PM
  • 35
One of one: Tucker Torpedo Convertible - Click above for high-res image gallery

Those of you scratching your heads, sit tight, as all will be explained. In March of 1949, the last of the 51 Tuckers ever built rolled off the Chicago-based assembly line. Preston Tucker's vision for a great American automobile was dead. Undeniably beautiful, wildly powerful (377 pound feet of torque made for quite a barnstormer at the time) and a couple of decades ahead its time (safety innovations, driver-centric controls, an active headlight), the Tucker Torpedo stands as a monument to what could have been, but simply wasn't.

While Tucker might have only completed 51 cars, he obviously planned to make more. As such, some unfinished cars must have existed. Here's one. Meet the Tucker Torpedo Convertible, the only droptop Tucker in existence. One of one, so to speak. Built off the "special box-wrapped ovular frame stamped No. 57," this frame was built by the Tucker Experimental Department and was, in fact, destined to be a convertible before fate stepped in. Then, over the intervening sixty or so years, someone (Benchmark Classics) stepped up and finished the job. It's outstanding looking.

And it's up for grabs. Well, the rear-mounted, helicopter-engined Tucker Convertible will be auctioned off during Russo and Steele's 10th anniversary event taking place January 20-24 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The #52 car has only two miles on the odometer and has never been titled. Should you buy it, you become its first owner. The convertible is painted Waltz Blue, a color derived from one of Mrs. Tucker's dresses. The top is tan. Best of all (for collectors), this car has been certified as authentic by none other than Al Prueitt. Once again, we so wish we were filthy stinking rich.

[Source: Russo and Steele via Speed TV | Image: Russo and Steele]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      is it possible to transport this cool car to the game grid so jeff bridges can escape the master control program with this classic gem.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Tucker + TRON? I salute you.

        Find a way to add in The Big Lebowski.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been skeptical about this car since I first heard about it, and I still don't think it's legitimate. I'd have to see some documentation from 1948 to believe it's the real deal. I've been reading about Tuckers since 1969 (I still have the January 1969 Rod & Custom magazine where I first read about them, as a kid), and I have never heard about any convertible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The provenance on a lot of the parts involved is questionable (like, where did the engine come from?), as is Preston Tucker's actual interest in building a convertible. There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions on this one.

        Couple of interesting points, though. The doors apparently differed from the sedan's, and were (apparently) stamped in the factory. If these claims are true, maybe...? As well, the site links to an affadavit from a reasonably reputable figure in the restoration business who claims he saw this frame and some of the body stampings in 1966.

        If I had money, I'd seriously consider bidding in on this car, even with that questionable provenance. It's largely a newly-built Tucker, and as a convertible would be amazingly cool. And--God help me--I'd actually drive it on occasion.
      BERT U.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Certainly, the Tucker convertible has created a stir, but a good stir at that. Heat eventually turns to light and then more info brings even more light, to eventually make things bright. All new things are questioned at first and then when all the hoopla and jockeying for positions or I should say opinions settles, then acceptance follows. The nay sayers are first out of the gate and always seem, at first, to be right because of their sheer outcry and boisterous, voiciferiness. Then reason begins to reign in the doubters, and methodical reasoning takes precedence over the hypthetical and innuendo. It is much like the story or saga of Preston Tuckers new ideas about a new and revolutionary new car. At first he was embraced by the public, then the SEC and the news reporters, looking for a story, started to nay say the whole idea. Then the public turned against the car based on their faulty info they were now getting from the newsmen and SEC. Finally, Preston was exonerated in court and now today, he is embraced like never before in the most positive way. So it went from positive to negative and then back to postive. Then extremely positve, because he was ahead of his time and his story of the small guy fighting the big guys and eventually winning, always rings true of what America is all about.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh Jay? Jay Leno? Please can I come and see it when you buy it?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It depends upon which Tucker you're talking about as to what kind of transmission it had. The first few had a modified Cord transmission, later models had an in-house designed semi-automatic, while two had an in-house designed fully automatic, others didn't have a transmission installed when the plant was closed down and had various units installed.

      Here's the Tucker Club's official statement on the 'vert: http://www.tuckerclub.org/bbs3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1733

      And if you have time, you can crawl through this discussion on the 'vert wherein the origin of nearly every part on that car is discussed and it is much more plausible than it being shuttled off to be turned into a 'vert: http://www.tuckerclub.org/bbs3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1424
        Josh K.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Brian, like a lot of "past" scuttlebutts who still try to justify the club's stance on the Tucker convertible, when their credibility went to zero after their dirty dealings that came out by a few of their own members. Those members were very angry with their club. Scholarships funds missing, Tucker donated memorabilia missing and unaccounted for. Then they try to kidnap the popularity and traffic of the Tucker convertible blog sites to their club site, so they can try to get the naive and unsuspecting to donate money and their Tucker memorabilia to their mainly defunct club. They are really the lowest of low! So watch your wallet!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'll take two.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tucker was such an amazing moment in automotive history. I hope this auction thoroughly crushes my hopes of ever owning this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cars like the Torpedo are what makes being a car guy worth it. I love cars with interesting back stories. Real or not, I want it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, I'm surprised that no one is speculating as to how much. $ 2M? $7M? Care to get a pool going? I'll go that it bids to $4.5M, but doesn't sell, failing to make reserve.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's worth what somebody pays for it. Using the greater fool theory, it's then worth what the next buyer pays for it. People go nuts at auctions, therefor it's the second buyer who sets the actual value, often less than the original one.
        Now, where would you find silly parts, like an oil filter, gaskets, points...
        • 5 Years Ago
        there is no reserve at these auctions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Tucker was ahead of its time. Far more advanced than anything from Detroit at that time. Detroit must have been relieved that the Tucker company did not last long.
      Josh K.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Don't know why people keep insisting there was 51 Tuckers made . There actually was 58 bodies made. There was 36 finished before the factory and 14 finished after the factory closed. 1 finished in the 1980's and of course your convertible finished in 2009. The Tucker convertible ( #1057 or 57 of 58 bodies) was the rarest Tucker of all, not because of the convertible part, but because of it being the only 1949 Model Tucker made. It was pulled out of the assembly line by Alex Tremulis himself for preparation of this model change, but also the rear back window was enlarged in a wrap around configeration like the 63 Corvette rear window. The convertible part was the least significant part of the car, although it looks very nice and sets it apart from the rest. Go to 1948 Tucker Wikipedia for more information. Let's get it right!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will never understand how the greatest people are always the ones whose visions are most trampled.

      Buick. Dies in poverty, so poor he "could afford neither phone nor Buick."

      Tesla. Dies with debt, only after so is he credited with some of his inventions.

      Tucker. Dream destroyed by ridiculous fraud allegations.

      Disney. Didn't even draw most of the stuff his company made, dies rich and famous.

      Ah well. Tucker Torpedo's still beautiful today. It's hard to believe a car made in the forties and fifties could be so clean and beautiful and yet still devoid of chrome and gaudy trim and fins. It's like a dream, some fantastic vision of the ultimate car. You could build one today and it would still look fresh and modern.

      To be honest, I think it looks better with a top, the aerodynamics of the roof are excellent and look great. The only thing I don't like is the rear fender, it's too squared-off and frumpy for a car whose front end is so striking.
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