Extremely-Rare Tucker Convertible Is Selling for a Fortune, But Its Past Is Shrouded in Mystery

by Matthew Memrick

A one-of-a-kind Tucker “convertible” is selling for millions, and its past is a mystery.

A Texas car dealer reportedly is offering a Tucker 48 convertible sedan for an eye-popping $2,495,000, but many are not buying the car’s authenticity.

One unknown man bought a prop Tucker 48 from the 1988 movie “Tucker: A Man and His Dream” for $100,000. There have been issues in the past of buyers not getting the real deal.

The biggest issue for possible buyers is the roof. Based on a Jalopnik investigation into the car, how it got its convertible top doesn’t seem right.

A History Of The Tucker Torpedo

Look at any picture of a Tucker sedan, and you’ll notice right away the third headlight. Pop the trunk, and you’ll see a flat-six engine destined initially for a helicopter. Other noticeable features were the safety glass, padded interior, and integrated roll bar. 

The innovative design even had company carmakers pondering doors in the roof. The company started up in 1943 and made 58 car chassis’s with 36 completed cars.

But by 1948, Tucker and his company went out of business. Historically, 47 cars still survive today.

Before it was all over, Tucker reportedly worked on a convertible known as “Vera.” Talk of this mythical “unicorn” has survived through the years.

More On The Roof

When the shop closed, Tucker moved his prototype to Lencki Engineering. But, removing the roof was not possible. That is until Lencki used thicker steel and a tubular steel insert. But nothing happened after that.

Other historical documents show one car found its way into existence.

A Wisconsin man named Al Reinert attempted to finish the car. Then, Benchmark Classics in Middleton, Wisconsin, completed the car in 2010.

Finally, a private collector bought this particular car for more than $1.4 million.

The Tucker Corporation paper trail was comprehensive as Tucker was known to save many papers.

One Tucker accountant penned a letter to see if Reinert finished his work. A Harley dealer said he worked on the car at one point. In 1966, another Tucker “unicorn” sighting came from another car restoration guy. Finally, another person got a notarized document about seeing the vehicle and its drawings in 1972.

With all that, there’s enough proof, right?

Doubting Tuckers?

Fans can’t decide if this car is genuine or someone just modified it and turned it into a convertible.

Tucker Club Archives director Mark Lieberman said the documentation doesn’t prove anything. Lieberman backs the story that Tucker documented almost everything, so it wouldn’t seem fit for him not to have anything on the “Vera” project.

Lieberman acknowledges the car existed 21 years ago, but nothing about who created it. He even doubts any notarized paper, saying those folks stamp the documents without checking them.

Lieberman would like to have a Tucker convertible accepted by the Tucker Auto Club of America as an official car company design. But that group wants more definite proof.

Without proof of the car’s origin or factory creation, they won’t buy it as a Tucker automobile.

The dealership and Lieberman are at odds over the chassis 57’s prototype. The man said a 1949 model had a wraparound rear window. The dealer disagrees.