Friday, October 1, 2010

This Month in Tucker History

1946 - In October of 1946, the National Housing Agency (NHA) awarded the Lustron Corporation, an upstart company ready to build pre-fab steel housing, a lease on the gigantic Dodge Chicago plant. However, five weeks earlier, the War Assets Administration had signed an agreement with Preston Tucker awarding him a lease on the same factory. In response to protest by Tucker, the NHA's Office of Housing Expediter issued a press release stating that "Tucker had refused to allow Lustron joint occupancy and therefore the plant was awarded to Lustron." The press release also stated that "other options" had been explored, such as either company using other war surplus plants in Chicago or even the Curtiss-Wright Plant in Lockland, OH.

1947 - Nearly a year later, in September of 1947, the court ruled on behalf of the Tucker Corporation, stating that the agreement between Tucker Corporation and the War Assets Administration was, in fact, valid. In October of 1947, Tucker Corporation placed a winning bid with the War Assets Administration for the Granite City blast furnace at $2,751,000, only to have it awarded to lower bidder.

1948 - The nearly three-week-long testing of seven Tucker cars on the famed "Brickyard" of the Indy 500 Speedway was completed in October of 1948. One car, serial #1027, rolled over several times during a high speed crash on the track. The car appeared to be heavily damaged, yet the safety windshield had popped out just as planned and the driver, unhurt during the incident, was able to drive the car away.

1949 - October of 1949 proved to be one of the more difficult months for Preston Tucker and Tucker Corporation, as the fraud trial against Tucker and others began in Federal Court. By January of 1950, Preston Tucker and all the other defendants were acquitted on all charges, which included mail fraud, conspiracy, and several Securities and Exchange Commission infractions.

1950 - The final public auction of Tucker Corporation assets took place in October of 1950 at the Chicago Tucker plant grounds. Just days before, during the legal deposition of a news reporter, it was indicated that the SEC had illegally leaked information about Tucker investigation to the press prior to the SEC taking any action. The damage, however, had already been done, and the twenty-two Tucker cars on site, thirteen without transmissions, and the thirty-two Franklin Aircooled engines, were sold at auction. One car located in New York, a test chassis, several parts and various all non-Tucker company vehicles were sold by Samuel Winternitz & Company at a reported a $47,990.00--just pennies on the dollar.

1993 - It wasn't until October of 1993, following the very successful lobbying effort by the Tucker Automobile Club of America, that the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, considered the "nation's museum," added a Tucker to its collection. The United States Marshals' Service donated Tucker #1039, which car had been seized in 1992 by the Drug Enforcement Administration following a narcotics investigation, to the museum rather than sending it to the auction block.

2000 - The 1988 Francis Ford Coppola/George Lucas film, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, was released on DVD in October of 2000. This much-anticipated version featured an original 1948 company promotional film and included several bonus features, such as interviews and a "making of" the film featurette.

(Post credit: Jay Follis)

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