The Misfortunate Tucker Automobile

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The 1948 Tucker Sedan, also called the Tucker ’48 or the Tucker Torpedo, is an American automobile conceived by designer and entrepreneur Preston Tucker. This car is not something that individuals in search for something common would go, but rather those that can appreciate a limousine. For instance, if you like to travel in spectacular cars, then you will most likely appreciate the Tucker Sedan, produced in 1948. Because of a scandal caused by accusations of stock fraud, production for the Tucker automobile was discontinued in the late 40s. The innovative vehicle had many features that are now broadly used.

Tucker ’48 was briefly produced in 1948 at Chicago. Only 51 models saw the light of day, because of the negative image promoted by the media. Many believe that the Michigan senator Homer S. Ferguson and the automakers Ford, General Motors, and Chryslerhad had something to do with the demise of Tucker Corporation. This just goes to show that even the best car reviews would not be able to stop political and financial powers from reaching their goals and eliminating the competition. Francis Ford Coppola, proud owner of a Tucker automobile, directed the movie ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’, released in 1988.

Science Illustrated magazine featured the first design of the car in an article entitled “Torpedo on Wheels”, published in December 1946. The version presented had a hydraulic drive system designed by George Lawson. Alex Tremulis was hired to finish the prototype so the construction process could start. Tucker gave him six days to finish the design, and so he did. The initial name Tucker Torpedo was changed to Tucker ’48, because it was a reminder of the Wold War II. The design firm J. Gordon Lippincott finished the sketches for the body.

Many of the design features and parts were ahead of their time, including the famous directional third headlight, also called the Cyclops Eye. The Eye would turn in corners if the angle was greater than 10 degrees. Because a third headlight was not allowed in many states, a cover was created so the driver could hide the invention. The Tucker automobile was surrounded by a perimeter frame for impact protection. Other safety features included a roll bar into the roof, a padded dash, shatterproof windshield designed to pop out and doors extended into the roof. We are sure that had it lived on, the Tucker automobile would have received the best car reviews, because it was truly an innovative and highly interesting vehicle.

Tucker Torpedo was a rear-engined car with a rear-wheel drive layout. The engine imagined by Tucker was a 589 cubic inches (9.65 L) flat-6 cylinder with valves operated by oil pressure and fuel injection. Because of developmental problems, a 334 cubic inches Franklin air-cooled flat-6 engine was used instead. Tucker converted the air cooling to water cooling and added several other modifications.

The 1948 Tucker Sedan was a success. Crowds gathered around it and even a police officer stopped Tucker just to see the car better. Yes, the car is a phenomenon. Just like people are still dazzled by the size of a limousine, so are connoisseurs impressed by the Tucker Sedan.  Several models participated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for endurance tests. One of the vehicles crashed at 95 miles per hours, rolled three times and the driver only sustained minor injuries. Today, the price for a Tucker automobile at auctions can reach $2.900 million. The former production plant is now a shopping center and a Tootsie Roll factory.

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