But whatever happened to the sketches that would have preceeded the Carioca design that was made public on the cover of CAR LIFE in 1955? Just recently, those sketches may have surfaced in an on-line auction. Oddly enough, these drawings may still be misidentified as a Studebaker concept drawn up by noted designer Raymond Loewy.
AutoPuzzles.com is a popular website where car enthusiasts post rare and almost-unknown photos of cars for viewers to solve what they are looking at. In June, member Wendax from Germany posted the following picture to quiz viewers:
Along with the answer, Wendax posted a number of additional sketches and photos of clay models that appear to be related to the puzzle photograph.
Further information from Wendax revealed that the sketches were part of an on-line auction where the original seller identified them as coming from Raymond Loewy as a Studebaker proposal. No further information came with them.
So could these actually be early proposals for the Carioca design by the Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky? Maybe so, maybe not, but it's worthy of further research. As the Count recalled in a 1955 article for CAR LIFE:
"The pointed tail of the eventual design had been advised by the racing car designer Harry Miller, with whom Preston had worked earlier in his career and whom Preston deeply respected. In fact, one of Miller's sketches was turned over to me for inspiration. To further the fun car notion, there was to be an unusual, curved rear-seat design, reminiscent of that of a motorboat."
Further comparisons to drawings known to belong to Sakhnoffsky also show remarkable similarities. Compare the side view of Sakhnoffsky's Carioca on top to the auction sketch and clay model below:
Could it be that these were identified as coming from Loewy by the cove on the side of the car in the sketch? Shown below is the side view of the auction sketch along with the side view of the 1953 Studebaker Starliner. Both have a similar swipe (highlighted in blue on the sketch) that may explain a hasty identification as a Studebaker:
Saknoffsky gives a further clue when he described the design process with Preston Tucker:
With no known provenance to the sketches, they raise a lot more questions than they answer:
Why did the auction seller think they were Loewy's Studebaker proposals?
Could the sketches really have been done by Loewy, inspired by the Tucker Carioca?
Can the handwriting be analyzed with respect to Loewy, Sakhnoffsky and Tucker?
Can the vellum paper be dated, watermarks, or otherwise?
Can the chain of ownership be traced in either direction to determine authorship?
The answers to these and many other questions would go a long way to determining the authenticity and provenance of this collection. If you think you have any information that may lead to identifying these sketches, please contact us!
If authentic and actually done by Sakhnoffsky, they could be one of the more interesting discoveries relating to Preston Tucker's dream of re-building his reputation with a truly unique car, and they may provide a look into the specific design changes that ended up as the Tucker Carioca.
As intended, the Carioca proves to be almost as much fun today as it was to be 60 years ago...