Tupelo Tucker sells for $1.985M, the third-highest price ever

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1948 Tucker 48 front 3/4 Bonhams

The headliner at Bonhams’ star-studded Tupelo Automobile Museum Auction did not disappoint. Museum founder Frank Spain’s 1948 Tucker 48 sold for $1,985,000 over the weekend, the third-highest price paid for a Tucker and the highest since 2014.

The beige-painted Tucker, one of 51 assembled and 47 survivors, came within $50,000 of claiming the second spot; a Maroon Tucker went for $2,035,000 at Gooding & Company’s 2014 Pebble Beach sale. The record price is $2,915,000 for a stunning Waltz Blue Tucker at Barrett-Jackson’s 2012 Scottsdale auction.

The nearly $2M price was on the high end of the $1,250,000–$2,000,000 pre-sale estimate and a bit of a surprise considering it was in #3+ (Good+) condition, but it sold between #2 (Excellent) and #1 (Concours) values. A 1948 Tucker in #2 (Excellent) condition is valued at $1.85M, while one in #1 (Concours) condition is at $2.1M.

“With only 51 built, the opportunity to buy a Tucker only comes up every so often,” says Andrew Newton, Hagerty valuation editor. “At this sale, someone was willing to pay for the opportunity.”

1948 Tucker 48 interior
Bonhams
1948 Tucker 48 engine
Bonhams

1948 Tucker 48 third headlight
Bonhams

Tucker #1028 is one of seven Tuckers to undergo endurance testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it racked up 2931 miles from September 19–October 6, 1948. It was the third car built after Preston Tucker moved the gasoline tank from the rear of the car to the front, a change necessitated by the installation of an automatic transmission.

Spain, who died in 2006, purchased the Tucker in 1996. The sale included an original company stock certificate and fitted luggage.

The Tupelo Automobile Museum opened its doors in December 2002 but closed at the end of March due to budget concerns. Bonhams auctioned the Mississippi museum’s 174-car inventory, as well as its collection of automobilia.

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