Known as the Tucker48 Tucker Cars are a true American classic car. 51 were made in 1948 and 48 still survive with many restored.
Preston Tucker virtually went into war with other car makers, the Federal Government and all the knockers who said what he was planning couldn’t be done.
He proved them wrong. Apart from the unique safety design the Tucker also handled extremely well, had a top speed of over 120mph and would go from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds.
No wonder the auto industry set about destroying him, and Ford in particular must have been extremel;y worried as they were still manufacturing cars based on the late 1930’s technology.
In 1988 the movie “Tucker A Man And His Dream” bought this legend to life and was probably the first many people ever knew about Preston Tucker.
Born in 1903 Tucker was obsessed with cars, and he started work in 1919 as office messenger for Cadillac Motors.
From there he had a variety of jobs mostly connected with the auto industry, and gained for himself a reputation as an exceptionally good car salesman.
At one time he and his wife ran a gas station, or actually she did as Tucker worked on the Ford Production Line. He also joined the Police Dept, left, and later left and rejoined two more times.
During the early 1930s, Tucker began an annual one-month trek to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Having a heavy interest in the race cars and their designers, Tucker met Harry Miller, maker of more Indianapolis 500-winning engines than any other during this period. Tucker moved to Indianapolis to be closer to the racing car development scene and worked as the transportation manager for a beer distributor, overseeing the fleet of delivery trucks for the company.
A better engineer than businessman, Miller declared bankruptcy in 1933 and was looking for new opportunities. Tucker persuaded Miller to join him in building race cars, and they formed “Miller and Tucker, Inc.” in 1935. The company’s first job was building 10 souped-up Ford V-8 racers for Henry Ford. The time to develop and test the cars was insufficient, however, and the steering boxes on all entrants overheated and locked up, causing them to drop out of the race. The design was later perfected by privateers, with examples running at Indy through 1948. Miller and Tucker, Inc. continued race car development and various other ventures until Miller’s death in 1943.
While working with Miller, Tucker met the Chevroletbrothers and chief mechanic/engineer John Eddie Offutt, who would later help Tucker develop and build the first prototype of the Tucker ’48. Tucker’s outgoing personality and his involvement at Indianapolis made him well known in the automotive industry by 1939.
Tucker was a good engineer and around 1937 ge set up a machine shop developing gear for the military.
He best known development was the Tucker Gun Turrent which was fitted to Landing Craft, PT boats and some Bombers, but it was a disaster for Tucker when companies using his patents to build these turrents failed to pay him the royalties agreed to, with lawsuits going on for many years.
Another development was the Tucker Combat Vehicle, aka the Tucker Tiger, an armoured car powered by a Packard V12 engine that Miller had modified. It had a claimed top speed of 112mph but the Army considered this was too quick and nothing more came of it.
When designing the Tucker 48, Tucker developed many quite revolutionary ideas to improve car safety, these helped to instigate the standards required for car safety and many are incorporated in cars made today.
Tuckers advances in car design was a great worry to the other car manufacturers and this resulted in a lot of pressure being bought onto Tucker, anything to delay or upset production schedule.
I guess you could call it Industrial Assination. Then there was the trumped up SEC trial which went on for almost a year and ended with Tucker being found not-guilty.
But it was all too late, the factory was shut, Tucker had massive debts and it was simply the end of the road.
The Tucker was thought of as a very nice car to drive, and fast. Had Tucker been able to complete developing his own 589 cub in engine instead of using the Franlin 334 cub in engine he could well have had a record breaking car in its standard form.
In 2012 a Tucker car sold at auction for $2,195,000, wonder what it would sell for today – double the amount? Update: I have since heard of another which sold for $3million plus.