Tucker #1052, the First New Tucker in 67 Years – 3D Photos

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For years it’s was well known that just 47 Tucker cars existed. Preston Tucker’s company managed to finish 37 production examples before he was effectively shut down by the SEC. Another 13 cars were left uncompleted on the assembly line. Twelve of those cars were finished soon after the Tucker Corporation folded. Another was assembled from parts in the 1980s. Over time, four Tuckers have been destroyed. In addition to the cars, the Tucker factory assembled a rolling chassis to use as a mule for testing Preston Tucker’s novel gearless automatic transmission that he hoped to eventually offer. That chassis was numbered 1052 and eventually was gathered up in a lot of NOS Tucker parts.

A couple of Tucker enthusiasts tried to assemble those parts but it wasn’t until Tucker fan John Schuler acquired them that the project got off the ground in 2010, more than 60 years after Tucker went out of business. While there was almost a complete body, Classic & Exotic Service of Troy, Michigan fabricated a new roof, floor pan and rear doors and completed the assembly.

Tucker #1052 had its first public showing at the 2015 Concours of America at St. John’s, where it won a blue ribbon.

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Classic Hood Ornaments – 3D Photos

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In the past, Cars In Depth hasn’t featured very much close-up photography because our main 3D rig for still shots has too wide an intra-lens distance (aka “stereo base”) to shoot details like badges and hood ornaments. The most important rule in stereo photography is to make sure you’re far enough from your target to avoid extreme parallax. I call that avoiding the “finger in front of your nose” effect. Normally you shouldn’t get any closer than 30 times the distance between the lens centers.

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The JVC GS-TD1 camcorder we use to shoot video, though, has just a 32mm stereo base, and it has a still photo mode (though the resolution isn’t a high as with our still rig). That means the closest we can get is only about a meter, just right for shooting hood ornaments. The RM Sotheby’s Motor City auction this year was a great opportunity to test it out. They had a number of prewar classics, including Packards, Pierce Arrows, Cadillacs and a Duesenberg that date to the era when drivers called them “mascots”, not hood ornaments. One has to take care about the background behind the target, since when you’re doing close up work, there can be extreme parallax between the target and items behind it, but so far for the most part I’m happy with the results.

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To view the entire photo gallery in 2D or your choice of stereo 3D formats, click here for a Flash playerhere for an HTML applet, or here for an HTML5 viewer

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1963 Corvair Rampside Pickup – 3D Photos

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This white Corvair Rampside pickup with blue stripes is almost as nice as the blue 1961 Rampside with white stripes we featured in the previous post. Being a ’63, it’s a bit rarer than the ’61. 1961 was the first year for the Corvair vans and pickups and they did pretty well, selling about 11,000 units, but in just two years sales had dropped to less than 20% of that, just over 2,000 trucks.  By then, though, the Ford Econoline and its pickup variant had been introduced. Like the Rampside and the VW pickup, it had a forward control seating position for the driver, but unlike those rear-engined trucks, the Ford Falcon based Econoline had a conventional front-engine rear wheel drive layout, allowing for a flat loading floor. The VW and Corvair vans and trucks had stepped cargo bays.

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1961 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup – 3D Photos

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The 1961 Corvair 95 Rampside pickup that belongs to Bill Beckley just might be the nicest one in existence. It’s certainly the nicest Corvair pickup I’ve ever seen – of course I’ve only seen four or maybe five of them in person. They made less than 18,000 Corvair pickups from 1961-65, so you’re not likely to come across one in any kind of condition very often. Either way, this one’s a beauty.

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1968 Double Cab Volkswagen Pickup – 3D Photos

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You may not realize it but this 1968 double cab VW pickup is very rare, at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. In early 1964, the United States enacted the so-called Chicken Tax, a 25% tariff on brandy and light commercial vehicles, in response to French and German restrictions on importation of American chickens. The result is that in 1964, sales of the commercial versions of Volkswagen’s Type 2 dropped by 2/3rds. By the end of the decade, VW decided it wasn’t worth it to even bother to import vans and pickups. The 2nd generation Type 2 was introduced in 1968. That means finding a “bay window” VW pickup in America is a rare occurance.

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1967 “Doppel Kabine” aka DoKa. Double Cab VW Pickup -3D Photos

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This ’67 VW pickups has the framework for the optional canvas top you could get for the bed. It also shows one of the great things about air-cooled VWs. While I was taking these photos, the owner was replacing an exhaust port gasket. It’s a myth that air-cooled Vee Dubs were reliable. No more reliable than any other car of their vintage. What they were was that they were easy to fix. John Muir taught a generation car mechanics their first lessons (and created the “for the complete idiot” genre of do it yourself guides) with How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, whose title indicates just how prone vintage VWs were to break down.

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1961 Volkswagen Double Cab Pickup – 3D Photos

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This is a vehicle that’s so cute you almost want to hug it. It has toylike proportions, but is actually a very practical vehicle. It’s obviously been lowered, something pretty common with Type 2 enthusiasts.

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Old VW Single Cab Split-Window – 3D Photos

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Though I like VW Buses, and even have owned a couple, I’m not an expert on the topic. Since this split-window pickup didn’t have a card in the window, I can’t tell you what year it is. They stopped making split-windows in 1967 so let’s just say it’s old. Old, and very cool. The beds and tailgate are a different color so I’m guessing those aren’t original to the truck, which was probably used as a flat bed, something the VW pickup could do that conventional pickups could not.

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What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been – VW Type 2 Pickups – 3D Photos

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Over the Fourth of July weekend, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead played a series of farewell concerts at Chicago’s Soldier Field. That such an oddball band could achieve enough success to still fill a stadium 50 years after their founding, well, as they say, only in America. To Celebrate the Grateful Dead and my fellow Deadheads, we’re going to run a few posts on the Volkswagen Type 2, a vehicle so closely associated with Grateful Dead and their fans that when Jerry Garcia died, VW of America ran memorial ads with a drawing of a crying split-window VW Bus. Like the Dead and the Deadheads, we’re oddballs, so instead of featuring psychedelically painted Sambas, we’ll have a series of posts on air-cooled VW pickups. Actually, by the time the Dead started playing in the band in 1965, sales of VW pickup trucks had dropped by over 2/3rd, due to the so-called Chicken Tax enacted in early 1964, putting a 25% tariff on commercial trucks, in response to German and French tariffs on American chickens.

The 1962 single cab pickup was, like the rest of the VW pickups we’ll be featuring, photographed at the annual Vintage Volkswagen Show in Ypsilanti. The gallery at the top of the post is from last year’s show, the one below and the rest of the photos in this series were taken at this year’s show.

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The Ultra Van – A Corvair Powered Motorhome – 3D Photos

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David Peterson was an aviation engineer who had worked for Boeing and other aircraft makers. He also was an avid fisherman and camper – which presented him with a dilemma: tow his travel trailer and go camping or tow his boat and go fishing. He couldn’t tow both, so he started to design a self-contained motorhome so he could tow his boat with his travel trailer, so to speak. When Chevrolet introduced the Corvair in 1959, he realized that the compact and low powertrain was ideal for his project, if a bit underpowered. Using the Corvair six under the rear end wouldn’t intrude into interior space and would also allow for a flat floor. Peterson designed a monocoque body along the lines of aircraft construction, with aluminum spars reinforced by load bearing exterior aluminum panels. The front and rear ends were molded from GFRP. In time, Peterson licensed what became known as the Ultra Van and about 330 Corvair powered motor homes were made. Production ended in 1970 in part because GM stopped making the Corvair and it’s unique powertrain, and also because Winnebago started mass producing truck chassis based RVs that were much cheaper than the Ultra Van. About 200 Ultra Vans still exist.

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