When you think of some of the great automobiles of the past, most of us don’t really know much about a car known as the “Tucker 48” or by its nickname, the “Tucker Torpedo.” Preston Tucker, born in 1903, was obsessed with automobiles from an early age.
When the war in Europe began to heat up in 1939, Tucker began developing an armored combat car. Although the car itself was not very successful, the highly-mobile power-operated gun turret which he developed for the vehicle and was later known as the “Tucker Turret,” was used on PT boats, landing craft and B-17 and B-29 bomber airplanes. Tucker moved back to Michigan in 1943 to start his new company, the Tucker Corporation.
After the war, the public was ready for totally new car designs. Tucker saw this as an opportunity to develop and bring his “car of tomorrow” to market. Tucker’s future-car became known as the Tucker Torpedo, but not desiring to bring to mind the horrors of World War II, Tucker quickly changed the name to the Tucker 48. Due to the methods Tucker used to raise capital for his car, Tucker Corporation executives were charged by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) with 25 counts of mail fraud and five counts of violations of SEC regulations. After a long court battle, all executives including Tucker, were found not guilty on all counts. Tucker had prevailed at the trial but the Tucker Corporation, now without a factory and buried in debt, was no more. Unfortunately, the Tucker 48 never made it to production and only a total of 50 cars were ever produced.
A man was hitchhiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. Then suddenly, he saw a car come towards him and stop. Instinctively, the man climbed in the car and closed the door, only to realize that no one was behind the wheel!
The car started moving slowly. He peered through the windshield at the road ahead and, to his horror, he saw a tight curve. He was still in shock when, a few yards before the corner, a hand appeared through the window and turned the wheel.
The man, paralyzed with terror, watched how the hand appeared every time he approached a corner. Finally, he summoned the strength to escape from the moving car and run to the nearest town.
Wet and shaking, he found a bar where he started telling everyone about his terrible experience. About a half hour later, two men walked into the bar and one said to the other, “Look George, that’s the guy who climbed in our car when we were pushing it.”
--The Ford Powered Car & Truck Show will be Inverness Saturday, Oct. 5, in Inverness. For information, visit www.naturecoastmustangs.com.
-- The Beauties & Beasts Car Show will be on Saturday, Oct. 19, in Inverness. For information, call Ken at 352-341-1165.
Ken McNally is the car columnist for the Chronicle. Contact him at email@example.com or 352-341-1165 for more information on any of the above events.