13 May 2006

A Dedicated Collection

The first-ever SCM “After Thanksgiving Tucker Tour” was a success. Organized and hosted by SCM’s own senior auction analyst Dave Kinney, the group met for lunch at Five Guys, a well-known Old Town Alexandria institution. Everyone who had sworn just two days earlier to never eat again found themselves chowing on burgers and fries in preparation for the almost 100-yard walk to Dave Cammack’s impressive display of everything Tucker.

SCMers from as far away as central Pennsylvania and as close as walking distance came for their first viewing of Cammack’s three restored Tuckers, as well as hundreds of thousands of pieces of memorabilia, two rolling chassis, and 10 Tucker engines. The privately owned collection provides an unparalleled look not only at Tucker the car, but Preston Tucker the man—and no admission fee.

The Tucker collection makes an impression on everyone who visits. Cammack’s knowledge of the Tucker, as well as his passion for collecting, have created one of America’s great automotive history museums. His collection includes the usual

Tucker memorabilia—car radios, seat covers, and brochures—but also thousands of unique pieces, from employee applications with work history and photos all the way to personal effects from Preston Tucker’s office. He also has files showing contemporary news clippings from around the world concerning the Tucker Corporation.

Cammack’s latest addition to the collection is thousands of actual Tucker Corporation blueprints, perhaps history’s best record of how the Tucker was built as well as what went into making a car in the immediate post-war era.

The collection is housed in a nondescript building near Old Town Alexandria. It looks for all the world like any other building—no markings on the outside, no windows, and only one garage door.

Cammack first saw the Tucker when it came to Washington, D.C., on a Tucker road show. He was a young man, but he remembers being fascinated by the car’s radical styling and shape. He bought his first Tucker in the early 1970s, and then bought two more. All three cars are restored and are on display next to each other in his museum.

The spectacular failure of Tucker has become the stuff of legends over the years, and this museum offers a behind-the-scenes opportunity to look at all the nuts and bolts, as it were, that went into producing this ill-fated motorcar.

DAVE KINNEY is head of USAppraisal, located in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as a longtime contributor to SCM.

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