The Mystery Tucker 48s

Burned. Boxed. Buried. Warning, this story may make your stomach churn. While I’ve long been a fan of the Tucker story and the cars, this installment of that Tucker tale has evaded me. The rabbit hole opened up as soon as I laid eyes on pictures of a crispy 1948 Tucker 48 floating around the web. It wasn’t long before I learned this Tucker, one of 51 completed at the factory , ended up buried in someone’s yard and others may still be waiting to be found.

Tucker 1023 before the fire
Above & top: 1023 after the fire

On September 29, 1978, as Tucker 1023 was awaiting restoration in a Florida warehouse, a fire broke out. The devastation was fast and fierce. What was left of the car sat outside for another two years, at which point Richard Jones, a Tucker historian, inspected it and took it home. He removed any salvageable parts before it was sent off to the crusher. The boxed hulk of metal was returned to his property and given a proper burial. Today, a two-car garage sits atop the poor car’s remains. The whereabouts of this Tucker may be known, but others, not so much.

Chasing this information led me to another Tucker mystery, that of the missing parts of 1027, the car which rolled at Indy during endurance testing. While many components of this Tucker, including its engine, rear bumper, doors, and seats, are known to have helped in other restorations or gone into private collections, the location of its body and chassis remain a mystery. Maybe you should check your basements and barns?

Then there is Tucker 1042. According to the Tucker Automobile Club of America it is the only missing Tucker. The story goes that in 1960 a cop discovered it in terrible shape, resting in the weeds along the Mississippi River outside of Memphis, Tennessee. The officer had it towed to his rental property, but not long after he was involved in a motorcycle accident. As he lay in the hospital recovering, the Tucker disappeared. It’s speculated it was hauled off to the crusher, but no documentation exists. Again, check your backyards, but this isn’t the end of the Tucker mysteries.

One of the more current Tucker mysteries is really more of a debate, and it’s that of the authenticity of the one-of-one Tucker convertible. While the TACA doesn’t endorse it as a real Tucker, it doesn’t say it isn’t either. Apparently built from Tucker 48 chassis and sedan number 1057, the convertible is touted by its builder as a top secret project of Preston Tucker. Finally completed from various parts in 2010, the Tucker convertible is now for sale for $2,199,000. At the time of writing, it appears this is the only Tucker of any sort for sale. Don’t worry, it’s been listed for several years in various places, so you have time to figure out the financials.

The authenticity of the Tucker convertible is questionable.

I, like many enthusiasts, have dreamed of finding a long lost automotive gem. A Tucker, the James Dean Porsche, the missing Bugatti Atlantic, a Vega… any will do, the chase is the thrill. Anyone have any good automotive mysteries to share?

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