Sports Car Modification

A Super-Rare 1949 Tucker 48 Sedan Draws Attention At The Arizona Concours d’Elegance

In Scottsdale, Lou Costabile is lucky enough to see and hear this unusual and innovative car with its modified helicopter engine.

It’s common knowledge that the 1948 Tucker 48 sedan is seldom seen, except perhaps in a museum. But what if you were not only able to see this classic car up close with all its quirks but also hear its engine? YouTuber Lou Costabile shares this unique experience with us at the recently-held Arizona Concours d’Elegance in Scottsdale.

Watch as Lou gets a tour of the Tucker 48, also known as the Tucker Torpedo, in this video.

The Tucker 48’s Beauty Comes From Aeronautics

In Scottsdale, Lou meets Seamus Hnat, who works at Stahls Automotive Collections in Michigan. Seamus first shows Lou the Tucker’s modified Franklin O-335 helicopter engine that lies hidden behind a rear grille with six exhaust outlets below it.

Like a helicopter, this 334 cu. in. flat-6 engine makes a lot of torque: 372 lb-ft with only 166 hp. Furthermore, the flat-6 gives the car a lower center of gravity, resulting in sports car-like handling.

RELATED: These Insane Custom Cars Are Powered By Airplane Engines

The Tucker 48’s much-vaunted center headlight pivots up to 15 degrees, syncing with the steering wheel as it turned and also adds to the car’s fighter jet resemblance.

Another feature that reflects aeronautic design is the airplane-like instrumentation cluster limited just to the driver’s side. So it becomes clear just how much aeronautics informed its design. Unsurprisingly, Preston Tucker, the car’s visionary developer, once owned a company that built fighter plane engines.

This Tucker Car’s Innovations Were Groundbreaking

1948 Tucker 48 Tucker Torpedo
YouTube Channel Lou Costabile

For Preston Tucker, car safety was crucial. The Tucker 48 had such safety features as a padded dashboard, integrated rollbar, and laminated anti-shard windshield. The Scottsdale car contains a “safety compartment” below the dashboard where a passenger could duck in case of an accident.

This car also offered other innovations like a quick-swap powertrain that would reduce servicing time. Instead of handles, it borrowed push buttons from the Lincoln Zephyr to open its doors. And like the Cadillac, a hidden gas cap was a feature. But it sits behind a small grille on the left rear fender on the Tucker 48.

RELATED: Here’s The 1949 Cadillac Fastback Restomod We’d All Love To Daily Drive

Only 51 of these groundbreaking cars went into production, with 47 still in existence. Also, Tucker Corporation constantly tweaked features on the car during production, making the car even more desirable.

That, and the story of the company’s tragic demise, has kept the value of the car dizzyingly high. Hagerty’s shows that a Tucker 48 in good condition is worth $1,250,000, but more recent asking prices are closer to $2 million. Apparently, the sky’s the limit for this aeronautically-influenced car.

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