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The 'Car of Tomorrow' is up for sale for $2m+

The ill-fated Tucker 48 was ahead of its time. Now it's really bloody expensive

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You’ll have seen the Tucker 48’s cycloptic face before. Even though the company only built 51 cars before it folded in 1950 (all of which were effectively prototypes), the innovative rear-engined 48 has stuck in petrolheads’ collective consciousness.

Preston Tucker came up with the idea for the “Car of Tomorrow” in the mid-Forties. It would major on safety – with a padded dashboard, shatter-proof windscreen designed to pop out in the event of a collision, massive doors that cut into the roof and a lockable parking brake to make thieving it really quite hard. It was very aerodynamic, used a six-cylinder aircraft engine and had a third, central headlight that tracked the steering.  

People were excited, and though it didn’t have all the features Tucker had wanted, the car was very clever. But then the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission took Tucker to court on mail-fraud and conspiracy charges - he was acquitted, but the damage was done, the money gone, and production of the 48 (or ‘Torpedo’) never began.

Nowadays these things fetch millions at auction. This one – chassis 1034 – is one of 12 finished in this shade of blue, and is expected to fetch between $1,750,000 and $2,250,000 when it crosses the block in January at Gooding & Co’s Scottsdale sale. Many of the surviving cars, said to be 47 of the 51, live in museums, but this one is offered from a private collection. It’s never been restored – never needed it – and has done fewer than 7,000 miles.

Images: Mike Maez for Gooding & Company

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