The 1948 Tucker ’48’

Preston Tucker was
a real innovator –

that, no one in the
know even questions.

He was heavily involved
in automobile racing
since the early 1930’s,
and during World War II
developed a high speed
armored combat vehicle
for the Dutch army,
a swiveling turret mechanism
for the U.S. Navy, and a
fighter aircraft for the
U.S. Army Air Corps.

He also started plans
for a brand new kind of car –

one that could put a lot of
the technological breakthroughs
of war-time into practical
peace-time application.

This car,
the 1948 Tucker ’48’
– was certainly different –
a directional third headlight
that would follow the radius
of the steering wheel aided
the driver in cornering at night –
a roll bar and a specially
constructed protective
safety frame –
along with a ‘pop-out’
shatterproof windshield,
a padded dash and a collision
‘crash chamber’ built in .

The emergency brake
even had a separate key to prevent theft.

The ’48’  had been
loosely based on
the designs for the Tucker “Torpedo”
(which never actually
went into production)
but the production model ’48’
lacked certain innovations
from the Torpedo that would
have given the car an even
more interesting edge –

— like doors that wrapped
up into the roof,
a centrally positioned
steering wheel,
and front fenders
that turned when the
car was cornering.

The introduction of the car ,
along with a lot of pomp
and circumstance,
also had
it’s…. well, problems

— the prototype couldn’t be
started on its own power,
two suspension arms broke,
and it overheated as it was
driven onto the platform.

These kinds of issues
contributed to giving
consumers the impression
that perhaps the Tucker wasn’t
all that well constructed.

Still, the car was striking  –
and was making
Ford and GM
very, very nervous.

It caused enormous
pressure on them,
and they in turn
brought it back to bear
on the new company.

To make the difficulties on
the release of the new Tucker
even worse-

— certain advertising claims,
and wonky project fund raising
helped bring charges of fraud
by the Securities Exchange Commission –

— charges which Tucker was
later cleared of, but the
damage was done –

And in the end,
the Tucker ’48’ was gone before it
really had a chance to get started.

Only 51 production vehicles
were ever produced…

and their value at auction
has consistently held around
over a million dollars a piece
for the last couple of years.

!!! HOY !!!

The Story of the 1948 Streamliner

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How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK,

— and then, somehow rise phoenix-like
from the desert?

This is the fascinating story of the 1948 Buick Streamliner,
…………..  otherwise known as the ” Norman Timbs Special ” .

This is one of those rare auto stories that will either drive the car nut in you to distraction, or just plain crazy.

SO, you may ask….

How does a car go from one of the most beautiful cars in the world, to JUNK, and somehow rise phoenix-like from the desert?

Well, here’s the story.

In 1948, a mechanical engineer named Norman E. Timbs decided to build a car without all the style extravagances of the time.

You know the kinds of elements I mean.. like bulky fenders, huge bumpers, and sweeping tail fins.

He was looking for something a little more… well, streamlined.

Tibbs had worked on the Blue Crown Specials for the Indy 500…
… he knew the value of lighter weight, more aerodynamically rounded shapes.

The car he came up with — the Buick Streamliner
……… is more a work of ‘art-o-motive’ than automotive —-
— and it is certainly an amazing piece of engineering.

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It was on the cover of Motor Trend that year, and had several features written about it in Popular Mechanics, Motor Life, etc.

The body alone cost around $8000- and was created by metal-worker Emil Diedt by hand-hammering aluminum around a wooden frame.

The main chassis utilized five inch steel tubes, with a modified 1947 Ford leaf-spring suspension.

The Streamliner’s Buick Inline “Super-8” engine developed about 200 horsepower, and could get the car up to around 120 miles per hour.

One thing you probably noticed from the picture right away — no doors.

The entire back part of the body swung up on hydraulic lifts for access to the rear mounted engine.

When it was finished in about 18 months, it had cost Timbs about $10,000 to build, and he toured it on the show circuit for the next several years.

Now, here is where the pathos in our story comes in.

In 1952, the car was sold to a Jim Davis of Manhattan Beach, California… who would tool around in it for the next several years… even getting a photo spread for it in Motor Life.

After that, history lost track of the car completely.

Well, that is, until it was discovered in a California junk yard out in the desert.

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In 2002, the Streamliner was sold at auction to Gary Cerveny, who had the car meticulously restored by Custom Auto of Colorado.

It was difficult, and complicated…. not to mention expensive.

But when it was done, the Streamliner looked like her old self.

That car—-
Timb’s Buick Streamliner lovingly restored —
………… then went on to win the Trophy for Best Open Car at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance !

And what a sight to see, it is.

What lines, what curves !!

Poetry in motion .

Mmmmmmmmotorcar perfection.

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