Most, if not all, know the story of the 1948 Tucker sedan. Yes, there was a movie, and it's well worth watching. But even if you've never seen or heard of a the machine, one look at Preston Tucker's Torpedo is all it takes for you to realize it's something special.

Just 51 Tucker Torpedo sedans were built before the company went out of business. Those were 51 special machines, though, with a rear engine (like the iconic Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche 911), disc brakes and fuel injection – a combination practically unheard of at the time.

Perhaps it's the so-called Cyclops Eye, though, that is most interesting about the Tucker Torpedo. This third headlight moves with the car's steering wheel, helping the driver see around turns. Such technology may not be uncommon today, but in 1948, it was revolutionary.

The final bid came in at an impressive $2,650,000. That means the new owner will pay $2,915,000 to drive this Tucker home. Check out our high-res image gallery of live photos from the 2012 Barrett-Jackson auction, and watch a video of the auction or read more about the car after the break.


Summary: The 1948 Tucker sedan was an advanced automobile conceived by Preston Tucker and briefly produced in Chicago in '48. Only 51 examples were made. This example is professionally and correctly restored to show specifications. From the Ron Pratte Collection.

Details: The 1948 Tucker sedan was an advanced automobile conceived by Preston Tucker and briefly produced in Chicago in 1948. Only 51 examples were made before the company folded on March 3, 1949. Studebaker was first with an all-new post-war model. But Tucker took a different tack, designing a safety car with innovative features and modern styling. His specifications called for a rear engine like Porsche, disc brakes, fuel injection and a padded dashboard. The final car was only 60 inches (1524 mm) tall, but was very roomy inside. It featured a directional third headlight, dubbed the "Cyclops Eye," for use in turns. It lit up whenever the car was steered by more than 10 degrees. The body design came from Alex Tremulis and was called the most aerodynamic in the world. Although it still sported pre-war type fenders, it was startlingly modern. Mathematically-computed drag coefficient was only 0.27, though this was 'rounded up' publicly to 0.30. Today, the '48 Sedan has fame far greater than would be expected from its modest production run. Of the 51 cars built (50 production and 1 prototype), 47 still exist, the majority in excellent condition. This particular example is professionally and correctly restored to show specifications. From the Ron Pratte Collection. **CHASSIS NUMBER 1043 - ENGINE NUMBER 33550**


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  • 27 Comments
      Tomtastic
      • 3 Years Ago
      George Lucas didn't make the movie: "Tucker...", it was Francis Ford Coppola. Anyone know what number this was? I think it was #1010, which needed a lot of work, missing parts, seized motor, interior. Looks like they did all the restoration so they probably have a lot of money in it. 2.6 million is about right. There's about 45 out there in equal condition, the ones in museums won't be sold any time soon. You don't see them for sale very often, plus the short history of the car and innovations make it very valuable.
      Stan
      • 14 Days Ago

      AWESOME! ALMOST 70 YEARS BEFORE IT'S TIME! What a car!

      patrickmatty
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was lucky enough years ago to see a dark green Tucker in a small auto museum here in Atlanta at Stone Mountain.
      • 10 Months Ago
      Preston Tucker was a visionary;he knew what was coming and he starts it
      miketim1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I actually just saw the Tucker movie a few weeks ago for the first time. Never knew about this car until I watched it. Cool car and the history of it is good also.
      JasonERF
      • 3 Years Ago
      Agree with the fact that THIS is a piece of auto history!!!! Wow! what a beauty! I'll have to settle with my 2 die cast models. Tucker is also a movie that Coppola & Lucas don't get much credit for but it's a decent flick!
      ICantDrive88
      • 3 Years Ago
      My dream garage has one of these next to a DeLorean... Ahh, dreams!
      Alex Butti
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think AB should feature some Barrett-Jackson auctions. There aren't enough on this site!
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Kimosen
        • 3 Years Ago
        What you mean is that you have nowhere near enough money to buy an amazing piece of history like this. Neither do I, but I certainly would, had I the funds.
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ummmmmmm....Mowat-Wilson syndrome has absolutely nothing to do with an abnormal amount of eyes....
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        Lemme guess... The money could have been spent better on a GT-R, with the rest going to charity? Because that's what I would expect from Mr. Fried_Troll. I know it's you. Just because I made a little joke about you being Acid under another name, doesn't mean I made a mistake. You're Fried_Troll, and you will be banned again. Following that, you will come back under another moronic name and show yourself once again. Please, just go away. No one likes you.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Elmo
          [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
        Elmo
        • 3 Years Ago
        Have I taken a look at your's and Fried_Troll's comments? Yes, I have. They are in the same manner. Just because you covered up the fact that you are overpraising the crap out of Japanese cars, doesn't make it any harder for anyone to know it's you under another name. You found out a small way of trying to cover your tracks, but revealed it when you decided to comment on EVERY American high performance car article overpraising the crap out of the GT-R and making up facts without any proof whatsoever WHILE backing up Acid_Tonic's claims of AWD being a superior drivetrain.
      KDAWG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love this car and the movie is pretty good too. I've never heard anything about this car except from the movie until now.
      Phil T
      • 3 Years Ago
      I got to see a dark blue one at 2010 Motorclassica event here in Oz. It was a privelege to get up close and personal with it and snap off a few shots. Amazing vehicle and beautifully detailed for its age.
      Vincent Teron
      • 3 Years Ago
      I spent a lot of time around the Tucker at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma and there are some amusing aspects to the vehicle that don't get a lot of attention. Tucker was crazy about the safety issue. He made a passenger foot well that's large enough to hold a large adult in a fetal position. Apparently, should the passenger realize that a head-on impact was impending, he/she could crawl into the reinforced foot well, curl up into a ball and would (in theory) avoid having to suffer the indignity of seeing the carnage ensue. It was an interesting idea, but in hindsight, the passenger would just be Spam in a can. In person, it's a very large and very fun car with tons of innovations. Not all of them were good, mind you, but Tucker certainly managed to raise a few eyebrows at the Big Three.
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