TUPELO • Friday’s opening day of the Tupelo Automobile Museum attracted some 600 bidders and watchers as the automobilia – signs and other non-car-related items – went up for sale.
Among them were twins Sean and Mike Tucker, the great-grandsons of Preston Tucker, who built the “car of the future” to challenge the Big Three in the late 1940s.
But only 51 of the cars were ever made – only 47 are known to have survived – including No. 1028, which has been in the Tupelo since 1996.
“Over the years we’ve tried to preserve the cars the best that we can,” said Mike Tucker. “Over the past couple of years we’ve really got involved with a couple of them.”
The Tuckers were convinced to work on a Tucker – No. 1044 – which was bought by Howard Kroplick in 2017 for $1,347,500.
“He kind of coaxed us into working on it,” Mike Tucker said. “We had done mostly hot rods in the past. We had the capability, but it really wasn’t our thing to restore cars. Then a friend of ours, Rob Ida, who’s very well known in the Tucker world ... we got together with him and said, ‘maybe we can do this.’”
Ida’s grandfather was an original Tucker dealer and his father, Bob, was a hot rod builder. The father and son duo built a Tucker replica in 2001, and have built more since.
Ida heads the research and development department, Sean makes parts and Mike does “all the research on what’s right,” Mike Tucker said.
On 1044, they found all the blueprints to ensure it was restored to its proper status. They had given themselves three years to complete the work, but Kroplick had entered the car into a motorcar show in early 2018 at Pebble Beach (the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance). The show was set for August of that year.
“We worked pretty much 24 hours a day and finished it in eight months,” Mike Tucker said. After Pebble Beach, the car was shown at Amelia Island. Up next is Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in June.
“We had a lot of fun with it, and we’ll continue to do al things Tucker and working on as many can as we can.”
And now they find themselves in the All-America City.
“What brought us here was 1028,” said Mike Tucker. “That’s a very special car for a couple of reasons. One, it was one of the original Indianapolis test cars, which makes it unique in and of itself. All of them are unique. 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.”
Asked if they might leave Tupelo with it, Mike Tucker smiled and said, “We’ll see what happens.”
The 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.