TUPELO –  With the great-grandsons of the creator of the Tucker automobile watching, Tucker No. 1028 was purchased for $1.8 million on Saturday at the Tupelo Automobile Museum.

The winning bid went to Tim Stentiford, general manager of Motorland in Arundel, Maine, a classic car showroom and service center. Stentiford, however, was representing the Maine Classic Car Museum.

"We're really excited," Stentiford said. "We came to Mississippi with one goal in mind, and it was to try to take a run at the Tucker and see if we could add it to our place in Arundel. We're a brand new museum and we're set to open the June."

The Tucker will be the showcase of the museum, as it was in Tupelo, and Stentiford said a room had already been set aside. Clearly, they were confident they would bring the car home.

"We were ready for it," he said. "We were optimistic and hopeful, and I knew it was going to be a competitive bidding process."

The bidding for the car started at $700,000 and went to $1 million quickly. After reaching $1.5 million, the crowd buzzed a little more as there were exhortations to keep the winning bid inside the building, as a bidder on a phone was making a play for the vehicle.

"I appreciated the local encouragement from people wanting to sell it in the room instead of waiting for the phone," Stentiford said, laughing. 

With the buyers premium, the cost of the Tucker came in at $1.985 million.

FAMILY TIES

Mike and Sean Tucker were watching keenly as the Tucker went up for auction.

The great-grandsons of Preston Tucker – who had hoped to challenge the Big Three with his automobile – said the 1028 is a "very special car."

"It was one of the original Indianapolis test cars, which makes it unique in and of itself. All of them are unique," Mike Tucker said. "But it has quite a story behind it. So we’re spending as much time with it as we can. We came to pay it a visit.”

Only 51 Tuckers were made, and 47 still exist, making the Tucker in Tupelo a rare car indeed.

The Tucker twins formed Preston Tucker LLC in 2012 “to further the legacy of Preston Tucker not only though awareness of his original projects and ventures, but also through new activities involving bringing concepts and designs that were never completed to life.”

They don’t work exclusively with Tuckers, however. Combined they have more than 30 years of experience in the automotive industry in engineering and management and have been heavily involved in many types of racing and custom vehicle fabrication and assembly.

The Tuckers helped restore Tucker No. 1044 last year after it was purchased in 2017 for $1,347,500. And they were pleased to see No. 1028 land in good hands.

"I was pleasantly surprised for how much the car went for," said Sean Tucker. "I think a lot of people recognized the importance of this particular car, and that helped the value of it. We're always happy to them go to a good place." 

He said he and this brother were at the auction to inspect the car for a client, and weren't eying the car for themselves.

"He was bidding, but it wasn't his day today," he said.

Wayne Carini, the host of "Chasing Classic Cars" and who played a large role in helping get the auction together, said the sale of the Tucker at $1.8 million was "fabulous."

"The last one sold for $1.75 million, so it was right in the range for what they were going for," he said. "It's a great car. It was running and restored recently. It really hit it out of the park."

The record paid for a Tucker was $2.95 million in 2012. Estimates for the car in Tupelo ranged from $1.25 million to $2 million.

Jane Spain, the owner of the museum and who, with her late husband, Frank, collected many of the cars together over the years, said she was very pleased with the offer for the Tucker.

"It was exciting to watch," she said. "And to know that it's going to another museum is a relief. Tjey're also going to leave it like it is, so that's wonderful."

Proceeds from the auction go toward an educational foundation long-envisioned by the Spain family. 

Saturday's auction – before any buyers premiums added – totaled $8,648,450. On Friday, the sales of automobilila – signs and other automotive-related items other than cars – drew $428,000.

The Tucker wasn't the only vehicle commanding a high price on Saturday. The 1934 Duesenberg Model J Prince of Wales Berline sold for $405,000, and the 1930 Hispano-Suiza H6B Coupe Chauffeur went for $300,000. Eight other cars breached six-figures, as well.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com

Twitter: @dennisseid

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