Automobile

The Sheer Audacity of Preston Tucker and the Car that Should Have Been

Historians tell the ending of the brief and tumultuous Tucker story in different ways, and the Ford Museum says Tucker’s company may have been a casualty of a bureaucratic war between the housing agency and the War Assets Administration. Tucker, a prolific salesman, raised millions of dollars in capital and caught the eye of the Securities Exchange Commission, which ultimately sent a team to descend upon Tucker’s manufacturing plant and shut it down.

Tucker was found not guilty in court, but the damage was done. Tucker had been forced by the SEC to lay off 1,600 workers and the resulting news reports, some including illegally leaked information from an SEC investigator, sunk him for good. Tucker launched a series of civil suits against the Evening News Association, but before the suit went to court, Tucker died of lung cancer. The very Tucker Torpedo that sits in the Henry Ford today had been acquired by the Evening News Association as evidence and donated to the museum.

You can’t buy a Tucker anymore unless one happens to go up for auction and you have a zillion dollars to spare. If you have a little less cash and you can convince Rob Ida Concepts to re-create a version for you in carbon fiber like the one he built for SEMA in 2017, then you can drive a solid facsimile. For now, you can see one beautiful original in the Henry Ford Museum and imagine what could have been.

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