July/Aug 2019 edition
Issue #6 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Interview with Howard Kroplick by Marshall Buck
MB: Vintage license plates…collecting, buying, selling of them is big business worldwide. Some very special and incredibly rare plates sell for truly eye watering prices, and then there are some that require more than just a pile of money to obtain…
Enter Howard Kroplick, who is well known for his unique car collection, which includes Tucker 1044, the 44th Tucker built of the 50 pilot production cars of 1948. (He has also accumulated an extensive collection of racing memorabilia.) Howard is a fascinating person, and a true “car guy.” I consider myself very fortunate to have made his acquaintance, seen his collection, and even better…heard him talk about his cars, and some of the stories of what went into their purchases, restorations… and the searches.
Here is the shortened story from Howard, of how Tucker 1044 came to wear two original Tucker Manufacturer license plates.
HK: In 1948, the State of Illinois issued the #1 manufacturer license plate to the only major automobile manufacturer in the state - the Tucker Automobile Corporation. These plates today are rarely available, and are highly sought by Tucker memorabilia collectors.
When I purchased Tucker 1044 in January 2017, I did a search to find two original 1948 Tucker license plates. I was surprised to see a Tucker #44 plate listed on eBay! A perfect match! Unfortunately, this plate had been sold in 2015. I was able to track down the original seller, but my attempts to reach its owner were unsuccessful.
One year later, I was contacted by a fellow Motor Parkway license plate collector, Koby Vinokur. He informed me that his friend had one of the Tucker #44 license plates and would consider a barter license trade. It took another five months to put a deal together, but we did, and finally one of the Tucker #44 plates was mine.
The second Tucker #44 plate was easier to find, but just as difficult to acquire. This plate was owned by Tucker expert Mark Lieberman, the previous owner of Tucker 1044. Mark graciously lent me his plate for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. However, to obtain this plate, Mark requested that I trade a 1948 Tucker license plate with a number #50 or lower. Not an easy task! However, in December 2018, I was able to purchase a 1948 Tucker #45 plate on eBay. We made the trade, and Tucker 1044 became one of the few Tuckers with two original manufacturers license plates with numbers matching its chassis number!
MB: As far as the cost of the #45 plate on eBay? Let’s just say that Howard was not going to be outbid.
Suffice it to say, you never know where or when you’re going to come across that piece of collectible unobtainium.
Please visit Howard Kroplick’s award winning website: VanderbiltCupRaces.com. It is a fantastic and extremely informative website on many automotive subjects.