The story of a Pilot Mountain man’s 60-year association with a classic car has motored its way into the pages of a national automotive publication.
Angus Tucker, 85, is featured in the latest (January 2018) issue of Street Rodder magazine, along with his prized 1940 Ford coupe.
The article, which contains photographs of the sleek black vehicle that is a favorite model of collectors and hot rod enthusiasts alike, details Tucker’s long history with the ride he has owned since 1957. After intermittently driving and parking the coupe in the years afterward, the Street Rodder story details how Tucker gave it a complete restoration from 2004 to 2010.
“Well, it’s a big thrill to me,” Tucker said of being highlighted in Street Rodder magazine, of which he is a longtime reader. “I could always look in there and see what other people were doing,” he said of the publication geared toward the hard-core auto audience which really gets into the nuts and bolts of mechanical issues and restoration projects.
“I’ve been tinkering with cars all my life,” explained Tucker, who taught auto mechanics at Surry Community College for 30 years before retiring in 1995.
He responded to a notice in Street Rodder magazine which invites readers to submit suggestions regarding interesting automotive stories, and his was selected for publication. “They encourage you, if you’ve got a car, to call in and see if your car qualifies.”
Tucker said there is an emphasis on vehicles that have been in the possession of one owner for a long time — for which he certainly meets the criteria — and are of a certain era. “They want older cars, I guess.”
Admired as a youth
Angus Tucker’s classic car story actually begins well before 1957, when he was a youth living along N.C. 268 just west of Pilot Mountain. Members of the Tucker family would watch the traffic heading down the highway that was much smaller than today, but paved at that time — and often frequented by moonshiners.
“We would sit in the front yard late in the evening at our house and we’d listen to them coming out of Wilkesboro in these older-model cars hauling whiskey,” Tucker recalled. Souped-up Fords from the 1930 to 1940 model years were the conveyances of choice.
“They would be coming down that road,” he said.
Sometimes the moonshiners were pursued by law enforcement officers driving slower cars such as Buicks. “They’d be way behind,” said Tucker, who became infatuated with the faster vehicles.
“I wanted a 1940 Ford.”
Swapped for Pontiac
Tucker, who still lives along N.C. 268 across the road from his old homeplace, obtained the ’40 coupe that he now owns while operating an Esso service station about three miles outside Pilot Mountain.
He was working there one day in March 1957 when a man named Eugene Cox drove that very car in for gas, which Tucker pumped due to it being a full-service station common in those days. Cox’s wife and two sons were cramped in the front seat, and Cox and Tucker discussed his obvious need for a larger vehicle.
One thing led to another, ending up with Tucker trading a 1941 Pontiac sedan that he owned for the Ford, with Tucker sweetening the deal by giving Cox $10 worth of groceries for five weeks, as Street Rodder reports.
The year 1957 was special in another way for Tucker, who tied the knot in July with his wife Mary Frances — who now has been around for 60 years along with the car.
Tucker would drive the Ford coupe on a regular basis until the mid-1970s (after replacing its failed engine in the 1960s), eventually supplanting it with a pickup. The Ford was then stored inside a chicken house for the better part of the next 30 years, when Tucker launched its complete restoration at age 72.
As the article in Street Rodder magazine describes, it entailed sandblasting the entire car, rebuilding its chassis and transmission and other major work. This included updating the 1940 Ford with more modern features such as front disc brakes, an electronic fuel pump and an audio system.
All that was highlighted by a stunning black finish applied at Jeff’s Paint and Body Shop in Pilot Mountain.
Tucker still drives the Ford coupe, including to various car shows and cruise-ins around the area such as one in Pilot Mountain where the classic vehicle has picked up its share of awards.
While the tale of man and car can be found on page 122 of the January edition of Street Rodder, it might be harder to locate the magazine itself at area stores.
Mark Tucker, son of Angus, is reporting mixed success in finding copies of the magazine. But he says an online version of the article highlighting his dad’s car is available on the Hot Rod Network website at www.hotrod.com.