I REMEMBER IT WELL . . .
On Sunday morning in the early 1950s Route 1 at Lima going South to Christy Corner (a distance of about 10 miles on a four lane road), was the site of one of the better local races. All the car makers were represented, including Tucker. Most all were stock.
The cars lined up, started rolling and it was a race from 30 miles up. Chrysler Hemis were fast and powerful but the Tucker from West Chester was the car to catch and it always won.
A RIDE IN THE HEMI
Our local Chrysler dealer in Chester, Pennsylvania gave demonstration rides in the new '51 Hemi. He would place a twenty dollar bill on top of the front seat. When he accelerated, if the passenger could reach the twenty dollars, it was theirs. I never heard of him paying off.
BUYING A TUCKER
Our neighbor wanted a Tucker very badly. The nearest dealer was at Northeast Maryland, just off of U.S. 40. The Tucker Corporation was being investigated by the FCC for taking deposits but not delivering cars.
Our neighbor made a $250. deposit on a future delivery and received a Tucker radio and a set of seat covers. He never got the car. The dealer went busted and so did Tucker. I used the radio and seat covers in my new Kaiser.
THE CAR LOT
The car lot was at 62 & Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia. The year was 1940. A gofer was a kid who ran errands for the salesmen and cleaned out the trade-ins that came on the lot.
All cars over five years old were parked at the back of the lot. This lot sold only popular cars. No Studebakers, Grahams, Willys, Cords, Auburns or Hupps made it on the lot, a few Fords sometimes but no smokers. The cars up front were mostly Buick, Olds, Pontiac, G.M. and Chrysler - Chevy being the best seller with Chrysler running second.
Working as a gofer on the Woodland Avenue Car lot was a lot of fun. I like to ride to the junk yard in the junkers. We drained the gas and removed the battery. They weren't bad cars - just out of style. Most cars like early '30s Fords, Chevys and Plymouths brought $15. I remember a nice '32 Chevy Victoria junked for $15. Times have changed!
WALKING ON A MILLION
The east end of Baltimore on Route 40 was a big used car lot area. Most of this particular area was low and swampy. Big old cars were "dogs" with no sales and they were stripped and run into the marshes. So now when you walk around you are walking over Pierce Arrows, Marmons, Packards, Cadillacs, etc. - a million dollars underground.
THE TUCKER ENGINE
As you may know, Tucker built forty-nine cars and then stopped production. The basic reason - no engine.
Franklin made the engines for use in helicopters. Tucker took the engine, had a water jacket installed and with minor modifications, used it in his car.
Franklin did not have facilities to increase production and since they were aviation oriented, Franklin-Piasaki-Skiorski refused to supply Tucker. Tucker didn't have the time and money to produce his own.
By John Dudley
Owner & Curator from 1967 - 2004
Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum copyr. 2000 - 2010