The Cammack Collection
Headed to New Home in Hershey
Chris Chessnoe - August 22, 2014 08:00 AM
One of our fondest automotive memories happened in historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia a few years back. We made our way down the slushy backstreets off the beaten path, and down an alleyway past the firehouse in the middle of the block, to a warehouse without windows – and possibly a doorbell which was just for show. Most of our group was already inside. Our host, David Cammack, was guiding the tour of his collection. Mr. Cammack was known as having the most extensive collection of Preston Tucker’s automobiles, which have quite a story in themselves.
Mr. Cammack passed away on April 7, 2013, but his legacy lives on in a big way. The Antique Automobile Club of America was bequeathed the collection of items we saw that day. Details available at www.aacamuseum.org
In 1948, the Tucker Model 48 was quite innovative and was even considered to be ahead of its time. It featured a “Cyclops” headlamp supplementing the traditional pair of lights, with the readily recognized center light rotated from right to left, in relation to the position of the steering wheel. The Tucker Model 48 also featured laminated safety glass, disc brakes, and a full frame for added safety. Additionally, Preston Tucker had developed many other features to be incorporated, holding several patents for their design.
The production side of the story was abbreviated, with only 51 cars built at the factory in Chicago, Illinois. Much of the company’s troubles were brought about by investigations of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for unorthodox ways of raising funds. Tucker had raised millions upon millions of dollars, developed a dealer network, and was ready to build a better car, or so it seemed. But in the end, even with the innovations and models in the works, the company completely folded in 1950, ending the Tucker Automobile Company.
Inside the building, which was organized and tidy for a garage setting, there were three complete Tucker 48 models. These included the only surviving Tucker 48 fitted with an automatic transmission (two were built with the other one having been destroyed), a couple of incomplete cars, including their frames, and several spare engines. It was if we were in the offices of Preston Tucker himself, with the plethora of Tucker parts, prototype pieces, charts, engineering diagrams, automobilia, and plenty of et cetera.
After the main tour ended, Mr. Cammack invited us to go upstairs to a loft, where boxes upon boxes of additional Tucker items were stored. Of key importance, it seemed all the early documents were present, including the original draft for the business plan and dealer development/distribution data. It was the playbook to the company.
Much of the material that was witnessed on the trip has been moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the public will soon have the opoprtunity to see it themselves. It will be worth the trip.