Saturday, September 27, 2008

Preston T. Tucker




The Car That Tucker Built


By Rick Johnson-Indianapolis Star Magazine, June 2, 1974



During September 1948, a caravan of cars and men slipped through the gate of a Southside Chicago plant by night and headed for Indianapolis.

Unlike many late-night Chicago forays, this time there were no violin cases cradling sub-machine guns, no pistols, knives or bombs, and no one was scheduled for a concrete over coat.

But there were aspects of that caravan more dangerous than deadly weapons…ideas. Revolutionary ideas…dreams and thoughts which went from a man’s mind first to a drawing board, then into dies, tools, machinery, and parts from which a prototype automobile were manufactured.

The cars were the product of the inventive mind of Preston T. Tucker.



(AP Photo)


The men included Tucker’s mechanical wizards Eddie Offutt and Gene Haustein.

The destination by dawn was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There, the Tucker automobiles were to be tested in secret under a pact worked out between Tucker and the Speedway President Wilbur Shaw. Tucker and Shaw were old racetrack cronies. Indianapolis, in fact, was home territory for the controversial Tucker.

In Indianapolis, Tucker had worked in the automobile business. At the Speedway, he had sponsored racing cars.

But the car, which interested Tucker on this September day, was one designed for the road. It bore his name…the Tucker. Since those days more than 25 years ago, the Tucker automobile has joined the legends of controversial history.



The luggage compartment is in front on the Tucker. (AP Photo)


Tucker, the man, who died in 1956, may be a forgotten figure. But his car is still with us in subtle ways. Many of the design factors he and his crew worked into the Tucker automobile, although considered revolutionary at the time, are a standard part of the highway today. Racecars which tour the Speedway today are, in a way, distant relatives of the racecars Tucker sponsored on the 2 ½ mile oval a quarter century ago.

But that day in 1948, Tucker was putting his passenger car on the Speedway track. His instructions, recalls Offutt, Tucker’s chief engineer who now lives in Missouri, were to make a 10-day to two-week endurance run, not a speed run, to test the car’s suspension system, oil consumption, general handling, safety and economy.

Offutt says results of the test were outstanding, but never were made public. No trace of the test results could be found in the records of the American Automobile Association (AAA), or the BF Goodrich Company, which had its first tubeless tires tested on the Tucker.

Regardless of the tests, Tucker and his car already were doomed. After long legal and economic struggles, Tucker lost his factory in Chicago, all the parts he had accumulated for building Tuckers and, with only slightly more than 50 Tucker automobiles on the road, his dream came to an end in 1950. The car that might have been is, instead, only a museum piece.

One of them returned recently to the Speedway track, which had been the secret Tucker highway in 1948.

Rick Johnson Photo

Rick Johnson Photo

Mario Andretti and Al Unser were household names in 1948…in their houses…and they were a long way from winning the 500-Mile Race.

Neither Al nor Mario ever saw a Tucker before April 2, 1974, when William Goodwin, owner of the Goodwin Museum in Frankfort, Ind., brought Tucker car No. 9 to the Speedway for them to drive.

Rick Johnson Photo

Immediately, the Tucker was surrounded by mechanics and drivers who were participating in the Firestone tire tests. They went over the car…top to bottom, inside and out.

Rick Johnson Photo



Rick Johnson Photo

Rick Johnson Photo

The first time out, Mario was at the wheel. Al and five other persons jumped in for a ride, and the Tucker took off. After a couple of laps, Mario returned and said, “It’s just fantastic. It rides great. In its day, it must have been something.”


Rick Johnson Photo



Rick Johnson Photo



Then, handing the keys to Al, Al made a couple of laps, driving considerably faster than Mario. Unser swerved the car back and forth across the track in the straights, and in the curves, was unable to make the car break away.

Rick Johnson Photo


Rick Johnson Photo


“I drove a lot of the 1940’s and 1950’s model cars,” Al said. “Not one of them showed me a thing like that Tucker did today. It had to be way ahead of anything of those days.”

Both drivers naturally had to take into account that the 335 cubic inch Tucker engine turns out only 166 horsepower, about half that of a modern engine, and about 1/8th of the horsepower churned out by the turbo-charged Offenhauser engines in their new Parnelli racecars.

But by 1948 standards, the 166 horsepower put the Tucker in a super-car category. It could go from zero to 60 miles an hour in 10 seconds, and could cruise effortlessly in the 85 to 90-miles-an-hour bracket.

“I believe the public would have bought these cars,” Mario said, and Al nodded in agreement.



Jimmy Caruthers checks out the Tucker. (Rick Johnson Photo)


Unser and Andretti know cars, and so does Eddie Offutt, a man now 75 years old, who worked with Harry Miller and Leo Goosen in developing the Miller engine, from which the basic design is embodied in the turbocharged “Offy” engine running today in racing cars.

Miller, highly imaginative and an innovator in engine design, was able to transfer his ideas to Goosen, who made the blueprints and handled the technical aspects, while Offutt was the man who brought it all into focus by building from the ideas.

“The Tucker was a great idea. If it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have stayed around,” Offutt said. “It had so much to offer then…great looks…different looks, but that was just part of it. We had torsimatic suspension…torsion bars mounted in rubber on all four wheels, and with the spring setup, the car rode and handled beautifully. It did not have shock absorbers.”



Eddie Offutt, chief engineer and test driver for the Tucker Corporation, examines the "cyclops" headlight. (Indianapolis Star Photo)


“The engine was in the rear. It was an opposed, six cylinder engine…mostly aluminum…very light, very durable, and an excellent performer. Later, we would have gone to an air cooled engine, but the cars we built had water cooled engines.”


Warren Rice checks out the Tucker's engine. (Indianapolis Star Photo)


“There was plenty of room inside the car. The front seat and the back seat were the same width, and comfortable. All of the instruments were clustered right in front of the driver. It had a padded dash, and a windshield that would pop out on impact. A heavy bulkhead protected the driver and those in the front seat. We called it a crash compartment.”

Eddie Offut in the driver's seat. (Indianapolis Star Photo)

The "crash chamber"
of the new Tucker is demonstrated at the Speedway by Gene Haustein, right, engineer in charge of mechanical development for Tucker Corporation, who has climbed into the chamber. At the wheel is Warren Rice, assistant vice-president and supervisor of tests. (Indianapolis Star Photo)



“The rear of the front seat was also padded to prevent injury to rear seat passengers. The gasoline tank was mounted in the center of the car, where it was protected by the frame from impact on all sides. The steering felt like it was power steering…quick and easy, because we came up with the idea that by placing the king pins in the vertical center of the wheels, it would eliminate problems conventional cars had. The steering box was well protected and mounted far back in the frame,” Offutt said.

“Most of the cars we built were fitted with vacuum electric-shifting Cord transmissions. But we had an automatic transmission ready to go. We would have had disc brakes as standard equipment also, before too long,” Offutt added.

“When we brought the cars to Indianapolis, Preston’s instructions were to give the suspension a good test, evaluate the general handling and economy, and not to go for a speed run. We knew that, driving at 50-55 miles an hour, we could get a consistent 20 miles per gallon. We kept one of the cars running, day and night, for nearly two weeks,” Offutt said, “and they piled up a minimum of 4,000 miles each. One car, I believe, topped 5,000 miles.”

“We ran them about 85 miles an hour…sometimes a little faster for short spurts, but we never did go all out for speed in that test. I’ll tell you…the suspension really got a test. The track was really rough then. The entire straightaway was all brick, and it wasn’t nearly as smooth anywhere as it is today. But not a single part of the suspension failed, and the only parts on the car that did fail were really minor,” he added.


The Tucker crew at Indy, 1948. (IMS)

Bob Cassady, now head of the Firestone racing division, was a part-time employee of the tire company in 1948 when the Tucker toured the 500-mile track.

“The Tucker crew was efficient and sharp. All of them knew their business, Cassady recalls, “and there was no foolishness. All of us who were working out there really gave those cars a look. They were so far ahead of anything else…ten years at least. I would like to have owned one,” Cassady said.

Offutt: “It was never my understanding that Preston was going after publicity in this (Indy) test, so the testing was done secretly. I thought it went swell. Well…almost.”

“One night, September 23, 1948, I was scheduled to drive on a run, and before I went out, I felt all the tires with my hand, and they felt fine to me. I must have missed a flat spot, because at about 5 a.m., I was going through the third turn, and I blew a tire. I had it pretty well under control, although I was up on the two right wheels. One of the doors popped open on the right side and dug into the track, and I flipped about three times.”

“The windshield popped out, just like it was supposed to, and all I got was a bruised knee. We changed the blown tire, and drove the car back to the pits. Right after the crash, we loaded up and went back to Chicago.”

With all of the information he had compiled, Offutt considered it odd that he was never called to testify during Tucker’s trial.

“The grand jury called me in,” Offutt recalled, “They didn’t ask me a lot of questions, but they did call me a ‘hot rod mechanic,’ and that really bothered me.”

“Of all the cars built in America then, we had the best piece of equipment. Of course, with any new car, we had some problems to work out, but we never got the chance. It was a big disappointment to me. When the trial was over, the plant was gone, and it was a pretty big mess.”

“Tucker, as a person, was an honest individual. He was a promoter and a super salesman type of guy, and he might have stretched the truth here and there, but I never had any dealings with him which were dishonest, and I had known him since he was a young man.”


Tucker automobile unveiled at ceremony in Chicago. (AP Photo)


“It wouldn’t do much good to name names,” Offutt said, “But I’ve got a good idea what happened (to the Tucker operation). There were all sorts of rumors about the car, but one fact got out which really shook the industry.”

“We could change the Tucker engine in less than 15 minutes, and that’s a fact. We could, and did, drive the Tucker into a garage, and in less than 15 minutes, drop the old engine, install a new one, and drive it away. I did it seven times myself, in less than 12 minutes. That one fact, I believe, caused us all the trouble with the big boys. With their cars, it was completely impossible to change engines in half a day. I believe, once they realized we had an engine we could change that quickly, they might have believed we had a car to go with it.”

“And we had a car to go with it,” Offutt said, “but I guess we were about 25 years ahead of our time.”

Offutt, aside from assisting with the Tucker test at Indianapolis, did most of the work in converting the air cooled Franklin aircraft engine, which powered most of America’s early helicopters, into a liquid cooled engine for the Tucker. The man who got that job was Offutt, who had worked on the basic design of the turbocharged “Offy” engines used in racing cars today.

Offutt, now 75, recalls those hectic days well.

Tucker had leased the huge Dodge plant on Cicero Avenue in Chicago from the War Assets Administration, subject to some provisions. Engines for B-29 aircraft had been built at the plant, which sat on 475 acres, and cost $170 million to build. It contained more than $30 million worth of tools and equipment.




Aerial view of Chicago Dodge/Tucker plant. (AP Photo)


While Tucker conducted a running battle to keep possession of the plant and to raise money to begin construction of his car, Offutt went to work on adapting the engine.

He performed the task in an amazing 45 days.

“They gave me three months to get the job done, and I had to start from scratch. We had to work out a proper camshaft configuration, and we had to put a water jacket on that air cooled engine block and heads. We just shoved up our sleeves and went to work.”

“Most of the engine was aluminum. I can remember we used Mrs. Tucker’s stove at Ypsilanti to heat the aluminum blocks so we could slip in the steel cylinder liners, which we packed in dry ice so they would shrink and make a tight fit. It was only 45 days after we went to work that we started the first engine,” Offutt said proudly. “It was a unique engine…smooth and superior to most of the engines around.”

“But I guess we were just 25 years ahead of our time,” he said.


One good way to find out about a car is to ask a man who owns one. Bill Goodwin, a Frankfort, Ind., mortician, owns the Goodwin Auto Museum there, and among his collection of Duesenbergs, Cords, and other cars, is a Tucker he calls “Goldie.”


Photo Courtesy Car Classics Magazine

Goodwin’s museum curator, Owen Moses, and Goodwin, each terms the car a classic, and a classic performer. Goodwin has owned the car since 1968. He owned two Tuckers at one time, but sold one to a man in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“It steers so easily, and is so comfortable. It rides very smoothly, and the braking is excellent. It is a roomy car, and there is no noise or vibration in the passenger compartment,” Goodwin said.

“It would still run 100 miles an hour, and do it in a hurry,” Moses said, “if you want to push it that fast.”

Goldie now has only 10,000 miles on the odometer, and about 4,000 miles have been racked up since Goodwin bought the car.

“In that time,” Moses said, “I’ve spent $3.50 for a spring on one of the suspension arms, and I’ve put in one set of points. The plugs haven’t been changed since we got the car.”

During the visit to Goodwin’s Museum, Moses said the Tucker had not been started for three months, but he would give it a try. After letting the electric fuel pump tick a few seconds, Moses turned the key. The battery was weak, but after a couple of growls, the engine started.

“Really,” Moses said, “Bill’s dual cowl phaeton Duesenberg is my baby…the number one car…but the Tucker rates right behind it, as far as I’m concerned.”

Goodwin also has a Tucker engine, which he recovered from a Tennessee junkyard. The engine was rebuilt by members of the Lebanon, Indiana, Junior High School shop class. The exterior parts of the engine were either polished, or chrome plated. The engine is now part of the museum display.


Rick Johnson Photo


“I believe the public would have bought the Tucker,” Goodwin said. “I was very interested in the car in 1948, but couldn’t get one. It has excellent design, and some great ideas. Really, there just aren’t too many cars around you can compare it to today,” Goodwin said.

In 1937, Preston Tucker was general manager of Bud Cott’s Packard auto agency near 12th and Meridian streets in Indianapolis. He lived in Williams Creek for a time, and then moved to a 20-acre farm just northwest of Noblesville on Ind. 38.

While recuperating from an appendectomy, Tucker conceived the idea for a high-speed military scout car with an unusual power-operated gun turret, which would give the vehicle a full field of fire.

Just before WW2, he built the scout car, which traveled 117 miles an hour. The military saw no use for a vehicle that fast, but they liked the gun turret, and later adapted it for use in various military aircraft.


Tucker's scout car. (Indianapolis Star Magazine Photo)


Tucker sponsored the Tucker Torpedo special in the 1946 500-Mile race. It was a rear engine creation built by Harry Miller. But driver George Barringer was forced out of the race by gear trouble. The car was one of several Miller built for the Gulf Oil Company.




IMS Photo




IMS Photo










Above color photos taken August, 2006, in the lobby of the IMS hotel. (Paul Johnson Photos)


The 1939 Indy 500 George Bailey-driven Miller looks to be the forerunner of the Tucker Torpedo. IMS Photo.


Another view of the 1939 Bailey/Miller. Life Magazine Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Tucker and Miller also once engineered a deal whereby Miller constructed several front drive racecars using a Ford V-8 engine. Tucker sold the idea to Edsel Ford. The cars were beautiful creations, and featured streamlining and independent suspension, but 16th place was the best driver Ted Horn could manage. Henry Ford killed the project. But one of the chassis later carried the famous Novi engine built by Bud Winfield.



IMS Photo



IMS Photo





Photo Courtesy FabulousRacers.com



IMS Photo


So, Tucker was no stranger to the Speedway. He was friends with Wilbur Shaw, Eddie Rickenbacker, Ralph DePalma, and Gaston, Arthur, and Louis Chevrolet…the fabled brothers. He knew Ralph Hepburn and dozens of other garage area regulars. Of course, he knew Harry Miller, and through Miller, he met Miller’s protégé, Offutt. Tucker also met Haustein at Indianapolis.

The cast of characters was set, and Tucker had the idea for his dream car. Probably, he got some of his ideas from Harry Miller, a man Tucker admired. In 1943, just before he died, Miller said:

“The entire principle (of the pleasure automobile) ought to be changed. The engine should be in the rear to eliminate the long drive shaft, torque tubes, and miscellaneous rods under the body. It should be radically streamlined, have faster hydraulic brakes, and be lightened. We are definitely headed for a lighter car that will stop and start more readily. It takes considerable horsepower to start a heavy car. Lighter ones will be more economical and safer.”

By 1946, the Tucker Corporation was formed.

If you get a chance to examine a Tucker, you’ll be surprised. And the Tucker would have thrilled Ralph Nader.

It was equipped with turn signals…not unusual now, but in 1948, they were an accessory, and cost extra. With the engine in the rear, not only was much of the heat and the noise eliminated from the passenger compartment, but there was no hump on the floor because the car was driven through a four-speed transaxle bolted to the engine. Lights, front and rear, were mounted to be visible from the sides at night, another safety aspect now in vogue.

The Tucker’s instrument cluster was directly in front of the driver. No briar patch of knobs threatened front seat passenger in the event of a collision. The glove compartment was recessed in the right door.

The Tucker offered step-down design, a low center of gravity, and a wide track, which, coupled with its weight distribution, made the car extremely stable.

The Tucker bumpers, both front and rear, were made of heavy spring steel, and angled forward from the edges to the center of the car to deflect objects on impact.


Photo Courtesy Car Classics Magazine


Six people could sit in the car with comfort. The Tucker engine would lope at 1,800 rpm while the car ran 80 mph.

The electric shifting transmission would start easily with a little push, in case of trouble. The planned automatic transmission also would have started with a little shove, instead of having to be pushed 30-35 mph.


Another improvement planned was disc brakes. Lately, of course, disc brakes have become the rage. As far as anyone can say, the Tucker also offered the first sealed cooling system, a practice that is not uncommon now.


Photo Courtesy Mechanix Illustrated Magazine


Automotive writers such as Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated, and Ken W. Purdy, checked out the Tucker’s features in 1948. Wrote McCahill:

“Tucker is building an automobile. And brother, it’s a real automobile. I want to go on record right here and now as saying that it is the most amazing American car I have seen to date; its performance is out of this world”

“I’ll really get out on a limb and say that if this car will stand up and prove reliable, it will make every other car made in America look like Harrigan’s hack with the wheels off.”

Purdy, automotive editor of True magazine, after examination of the Tucker, said the car should be rated with the Stutz, the Mercer, the Cord, and the Duesenberg. Purdy raved over the Tucker’s performance, and proclaimed it “the safest car ever built.”

In 1971, McCahill retested a Tucker, owned by William B. Hamlin, at Ontario, Calif. The car McCahill tested, according to Hamlin, had more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. Said McCahill:

“It will still do 0-to-60 in 10 seconds flat, and will zip by 100 mph as quickly as the car I drove years ago.”

“Though Preston Tucker and many of the original crew have long since passed on, they once built the most advanced automobile in the world, and somewhere, in Detroit, a group in villain suits with loaded pockets ran these cars into the ground. For shame,” McCahill concluded.

A detailed account of Tucker’s life was written by Charles T. Pearson titled The Indomitable Tin Goose.

Pearson was once employed in the Tucker publicity department, and was a close friend of Tucker. Pearson heaps blame for the failure of the Tucker Corporation on the Detroit automobile industry, politicians, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Pearson also says Tucker “shot some fast angles and cut some corners, but there wasn’t enough evidence to convince a jury that he was wantonly dishonest, or that he wasn’t sincere in trying to produce automobiles.”

According to Pearson’s book and various newspaper stories, here is a brief chronology of Tucker’s decline.

His lease for the Chicago plant from the War Assets Administration provided that he must have $15 million in capital by March 1, 1947, pay $500,000 rental a year for two years, and then pay $2.4 million a year, or 3% of the gross profits, whichever was greater.

Tucker sold $6 million in franchises. The SEC announced an investigation, although no stock had been sold. However, the firm announced that $20 million in stock would be offered as soon as a prototype of his car had been built, and the SEC approved.


Tucker and attorney C.N. Avgerin emerge from Judge Phillip Sullivan's court after pleading innocent to Federal charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, and SEC violations. (AP Photo)


Meanwhile, Tucker had to battle to keep his plant. Wilson Wyatt, former Louisville mayor and then head of the National Housing agency, attempted to turn the huge plant over to the Lustron Corporation, despite the agreement Tucker held.

The War Assets Administration moved the deadline to July 1, 1947, for Tucker to acquire $15 million, and he announced that 4 million shares would be sold at $5 each. The SEC viewed an accompanying advertising campaign as cause for stopping the stock offer pending investigation.

The SEC finally approved the stock, and War Assets Administration set a new deadline for November 1, 1947.

After a New York preview June 16, 1947, Tucker began a national tour with a prototype of his car. By September, with stock sales totaling $15,007,000, Tucker stopped selling stock and faced the rumor mill.

The chief rumor was that the Tucker car couldn’t back up. This was, unfortunately, true of the original “Tin Goose,” but not true of additional cars which were built. The first 20 or 30 cars off the Tucker line had revamped transmissions taken from Cord automobiles, according to Pearson.

On top of the rumors came parts problems. Unable to get bids accepted for steel plants, Tucker was forced to buy on the open market. In March 1948, he obtained a supply of engines for Offutt to redesign. The company began selling such things as luggage, radios, accessories, and seat covers for cars not yet built in an attempt to raise money.

The SEC objected, but promised to keep an investigation secret if Tucker would turn over the company books. Tucker said he would discuss it with his board of directors.

But columnist Drew Pearson announced the SEC investigation on his radio show, and the stock dropped to $3 a share overnight. Tucker laid off 1,600 workers and closed the plant. Within days, petitions hit Federal Court asking receivership for the Tucker Corporation.


Preston Tucker, right, and Kenneth Main, supervisor of the final assembly at the Tucker Corporation plant in Chicago, looking over a power plant for their rear-engine car after Tucker announced suspension of automobile production operations, pending completion of an investigation of the Tucker Corporation by the SEC. (AP Photo)

After a few weeks, Tucker rehired about 300 workers and tried to build some cars. He conducted the tests at the Speedway, and searched the country for financial help. Everybody turned him down, including the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, from which he sought $30 million.

On January 7, 1949, a Federal judge ordered the Tucker plant closed. On February 15, Otto Kerner, United States Attorney at Chicago, announced a Federal grand jury probe of the Tucker Corporation. (Kerner later served as governor of Illinois, was appointed judge of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, a few months ago, was convicted of conspiracy, mail fraud, and income tax evasion in connection with race track stock while he was governor.)


A line of Tucker automobiles outside the U.S. courthouse. (AP Photo)

Appearance in the press and on radio of material from a secret SEC investigation report on Tucker did nothing to help his corporation, and in May 1949, the firm’s assets were ordered sold.

On June 10, 1949, Tucker and seven aides were charged with mail fraud. And the same day his trial began, a judge ordered the plant itself returned to the War Assets Administration.



Tucker and attorney Frank McAdams arrive at Federal Court in Chicago. (AP Photo)


After a long trial, Tucker and his aides were found innocent January 22, 1950. The jury deliberated 28 hours. The cheers in the courtroom were hollow. The plant was gone, the corporation’s assets, which Pearson says amounted to $3 million in auto parts and materials alone, were being liquidated through trustees and attorneys.




Tucker and associates acquitted. Preston Tucker, fourth from right, head of ill-fated Tucker automobile firm, stands at Federal Court in Chicago Jan. 22 with seven of his associates after they were acquitted on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, and accusations of Federal SEC violations in financial promotion of the corporation. Left to right: Mitchell W. Dulian, sales manager; Floyd D. Serf, underwriter who handled the Tucker stock offering; Harold Karsten, promotion; Fred Rockelman, executive vice-president; Tucker; Robert Pierce, treasurer; Otis Radford, a former treasurer, and Cliff Knoble, advertising manager.(AP Photo)



Tucker kissed by his wife Vera after acquittal. (AP Photo)


Investors and would-be dealers would get no return on their investment, and the public would not get the car.

An era ended without the world ever knowing who was really right…Tucker’s fans or his foes. Today, there remain people who believe Tucker was a scheming, glib, con artist who got what he deserved. And there are others who think he was a victim of big business and politics, because his ideas were so new and different they would have revolutionized the auto industry.



(AP Photo)

9 comments:

  1. What an amazing story. I would have bought one!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been a huge fan of Preston Tucker and the Tucker Torpedo ever since I first saw the movie, "Tucker The Man and His Dream", many years ago.

    The story of Preston Tucker is another example of big business eliminating the smaller competition, by any means possible. I believe the Tucker is still one of the best cars ever built, even by todays standards. I am an Australian and if by some miracle I was able to purchase a Tucker, I would do so, without hesitation.

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  3. I think, he made revolution with his great car. Tucker Torpedo is up to date looks quite modern.

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  4. What a wonderful description.
    This unexpected column, brought back fond memories.
    The 1948 Tucker Torpedo, has always been a fond & mysterious automobile, to me. And, I appreciate learning more and more, about this particular automobile. Why? Because, when I was a young & impressionable lad of 7 or 8, I discovered this mysterious automobile. The location was the historic old museum, at San Francisco's Sutro Baths. A black model, was one of the museum's wonderful exhibits. I was fascinated & intrigued by that moving cycloptic moving center headlight! I had never seen anything like THAT, before!
    "Sutro's", burned down in 1966.
    But, "my" Tucker survives, in Los Angeles's Petersen Auto Museum.
    Lastly, portions of the above mentioned Tucker film, was shot in my San Francisco Bay-area hometown of Vallejo.
    Thank you.
    Francisco LOPEZ
    Ft.Apache@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great car for the time...many years ahead of its time. Somehome the Saturn of today!!

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  6. I would love at least a test drive... to bad I`m from europe.

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  7. 1948 Tucker Torpedo #45 recently sold at Barrett Jackson for $2.65 million dollars. Not too shaby for a car that "can't back up". I'm a huge Tucker fan, but it's his message that is everlasting. Hodl to your dreams and fight for them. He wanted to build a car, and he did...period.

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  8. Its a dam shame that the big auto companies and polotitions put Tucker out and years later we as americans had to bale them out who is the true criminals not Tucker not at all.

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  9. Awesome stuff.. John "Eddie" Offutt is my Grandfather. I am always excited to see stories about the Tucker, and am very proud of the contribution made by my family. My Granddad was an amazing Engineer, Machinist, and Mechanic. Involved in racing all his life; Indy, Boats, etc. I rode in a Tucker (Gold, unknown number) in about 1980 or so. It was awesome, and a memorable experience even at 9 years of age. For all I know, it may have been Hamlin's (see above). Never thought that it would become a $2.7 million icon... crazy. Wish my Grandad had kept his ( #5 I am told)... would love to ride in one again.

    Bret Offutt

    ReplyDelete

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