1948 Tucker Torpedo
Engine: Horizontal Opposed 6-cylinder
Displacement: 334 Cubic Inches
Horsepower: 120 BHP
Cost New: $2,450
Preston Tucker was a man who pushed the boundaries. A great family man, Tucker had a life-long fascination with all things automotive. Starting at the age of 13, he worked his way up through the industry to eventually become a sales manager for Packard. He paired up with Harry Miller and made a series of ten unsuccessful race cars for Henry Ford. After hearing of the looming war in Europe, Tucker designed a new attack vehicle able to reach speeds of 114 m.p.h. The Army thought the combat car was too fast, but the turrets Tucker had placed on top drew a lot of interest and were used on PT boats, the B-17 and B-29 bombers.
After the war, Tucker decided to capitalize on the fact that all automakers were producing the same cars they were before the war. With demand incredibly high and no time to re-tool, the only changes were to trim options and minor upgrades. Tucker exploded onto the scene with his forward-thinking Tucker Torpedo. Billed as the "First Completely New Car in Fifty Years!", the Tucker car was Preston Tucker's incredible energy and vision meeting up with designer Alex Tremulis' graceful style. Tremulis had seen Tucker's early concept drawing in a Science Illustrated magazine and joined the team. Tucker had leased the old Dodge plant in Chicago, which had been used to produce B-29 engines for World War II. By working 110 hours a week, they were able to produce a car in only 100 days. The Tin Goose rolled out the doors on June 19th, 1947.
Tucker was very interested in safety and performance. He included several new innovations that would become the standard in the industry. He was the first to incorporate a support structure in the body to protect riders from a rollover accident. He also added safety-laminated glass and pop-out windshields. Tucker attempted to put seatbelts in the cars, but was talked out of it by investors, who believed that the car would look unsafe if you had to buckle yourself into it. The dash was padded and Tucker shifted the entire dashboard to the area in front of the driver, in order to create a "safety chamber" for passengers to slide into in case of a front-end collision.
Tucker attempted to build his own, very large 6-cylinder engine. He did not have enough time to perfect the design, and opted instead to change the air-cooled Franklin aviation engine to water cooled. Tucker used a rear-mounted engine and a rear-wheel drive configuration for the car. He was constantly under severe time and material shortages, which caused him to use materials from other manufacturers. Tucker had developed an automatic transmission, but was not able to produce enough of them and used Cord transmissions instead. The steering wheels and interior door handles were from Lincolns.
The Big Three, (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) were not pleased with Tucker. He was a larger-than-life personality and the innovations he was developing were going to be costly to compete with. There were many different stories and theories about how much influence they had in the troubles that Preston faced. Many believed they influenced the government to unfairly scrutinize Tucker and his company. The Big Three also did run an extensive negative advertising campaign directed at destroying the image of the company and the man. In the end, Tucker was bankrupt and the company failed.
The Tucker you see here is the last one produced. Built after the company was bankrupt, it rolled off the line without a transmission and some mismatched parts. The car was never driven, and currently has 0.5 miles on the odometer. This is the lowest mileage Tucker in the world.
Curtis Foester had the car restored in the mid-1990s to its current state.