Monterey | Lot 148
1948 Tucker 48
$1,820,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
24 August 2018
- The most legendary post-war American automobile
- Immaculate concours-quality restoration by RM Auto Restoration
- Overseen by Tucker technical and authenticity specialist Mark Lieberman
- Formerly part of the renowned Nick Jenin “Fabulous Tuckers” collection
- The most correct and beautifully finished example available
There is little about the Tucker automobile that has not already been said. No post-war American automobile has had every facet of its story so religiously studied and examined; none was more controversial when new, and fewer are more beloved today. Indeed, it would please a vindicated Preston Tucker that the 47 surviving examples of the 51 cars he built are among the most valuable and desirable American cars. They draw the most attention and crowds to any museum at which they are displayed, including such venerable halls as the Henry Ford, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the National Automobile Museum, and the Nethercutt Museum. They are the trophies of renowned collectors who consider their fleets of Duesenbergs, Isottas, and Ferraris simply otherwise incomplete without “The Car of Tomorrow.”
1046: ONE OF “THE FABULOUS TUCKERS”
While the original owner of Tucker no. 1046 is not known, the car was one of 13 originally finished in Maroon, and one of eight late-production cars completed in the closed-down factory by former employees. It was eventually sold at the fabled bankruptcy auction of October 1950.
The car was acquired in mid-1953, possibly from Art Watson of Miami, Florida, by Nick Jenin of Fort Lauderdale, a race track, hotel, and nightclub owner, and a skilled promoter. Jenin was among the first to recognize the Tucker’s power to still draw a crowd, and in the early 1950s amassed a collection of nine of them, as well as various spare parts and memorabilia. These cars were shown both in Florida and as a traveling sideshow exhibit, “The Fabulous Tuckers,” that appeared up and down the East Coast well into the 1960s.
During his ownership Mr. Jenin rebuilt the Tucker by fitting a front-mounted Oldsmobile Rocket V8 engine, necessitating modifications to the original Tucker body, under-hood tub, and firewall, as well as the dashboard and interior. He reportedly did this for his daughter, so she would be able to drive a Tucker like her father did; that plan did not go as well as he hoped. As the story is told, when his daughter drove the car to school, it attracted so much attention that she quickly wanted to drive something less conspicuous. It was then used regularly by the family as a daily driver, though it occasionally found its way into the roadshow, appearing at McCormick Place in Chicago in 1962.
By the following year Jenin’s interest in Tuckers had waned, and he offered his entire collection for sale. He advertised 1046 and, in 1964, sold it to John and Carolyn Janecek of Springfield, Oregon, who further modernized the car by setting the body on top of a 1964 Mercury chassis, and painting it gold. Mr. Janecek was a charter member of the Tucker Automobile Club of America (TACA) and over the years drove 1046 to several conventions in as far-flung locales as Wellington, Kansas; Claremont, California; and Las Vegas with no issues. They also displayed it at theatres in Portland and Seattle to promote the 1988 film, Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
In 2002 the Janeceks’ health issues sadly ended their ownership of the car, which was purchased by longtime Tucker enthusiast, Walter Ready of Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Ready, too, was very involved with the TACA, and in his ownership the car was reunited for special appearances with Preston Tucker’s daughter, Marylee, and appeared alongside 1047, for the first time since 1950, at the Gilmore Car Museum.
The Tucker was acquired by its current owners from the Ready Family in 2007, and shortly thereafter, in consultation with Tucker historian Martyn Donaldson and well-known Tucker authority Mark Lieberman, a decision was made to undertake the car’s complete restoration to authentic original condition. Donaldson and Lieberman would oversee the work at RM Auto Restoration of Blenheim, Ontario, which has restored more concours-quality Tuckers than any other facility in the world.
Returning 1046 to its original form was a painstaking process, involving sourcing an original Tucker engine, cord transmission, “new-old-stock” dashboard, and complete interior, as well as many miscellaneous parts, done through careful research and dogged pursuit. All of the original stampings are present, and all of the body panels are original to this car. Most impressively, the original underbody was reproduced by digitally scanning the original floors and support extensions of Tucker number 1047, then having a precise duplicate cut by water jet, as would be done to restore a car with a rusty underbody. Even the rough-looking welds found on 1047’s original underside were reproduced on this car to make it factory-correct in all regards. An original spare Tucker engine, no. 335-55, was sourced and fitted. A gas tank and front trunk tub were fabricated, along with the entire floor and parts of the correct Torsilastic suspension; several of the parts that were used in the restoration actually came from 1046 originally. The Maroon paint was digitally matched to traces of original factory finish, under the fender rubber welting and glovebox door.
The well-documented result, finished precisely as it would have left the factory, is without a doubt one of the most painstakingly researched, correct, and beautifully detailed restorations of any Tucker, and has produced a car which is most certainly the finest restored example available today at any price.