Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Month in Tucker History

1946 - The January 1946 issue of PIC Magazine featured a story by Charles T. Pearson, a freelance automotive reporter, about the revolutionary “Tucker Torpedo” automobile on the drawing board. But it was the December 1946 “Tucker Torpedo” story in Science Illustrated that gave many their first look at Preston Tucker’s dream car and a real sense he was serious. A photo showed the George Lawson designed “Torpedo On Wheels” that looked “more like a Buck Rogers Special” than any auto of its day.

1946 - Just two days after Christmas 1946, and within days of seeing the story, automotive designer Alex Tremulis called Preston Tucker and asked for an interview. They met the very next day for a 15-minute meeting that turns into three hours, and ends with Alex landing a styling consultant contract for his employer, the design firm of Tammen and Denison of Chicago. On New Year’s Eve, just four days later, Alex had already finished several drawings and presents them to Preston Tucker. This meeting lost Tammen and Denison the Tucker contract as Preston hired Alex outright and appointed him Tucker Corporation Styling Chief.

1947 - By December 1947, all in-house work on the “Tucker 589” engine was canceled as the results proved to be “completely unsatisfactory” and the company began exploring other engine options with outside firms. Contracts were signed with Hoffman Motor Development Company of Detroit, MI, who would build six engines, as well as with Ex-Cello-O Fuel Injection Systems, who proposed adapting a Jacobs Aircraft Engine for use in the Tucker. The Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, owned by Preston’s mother, pursued yet another engine. The Ypsi group worked on converting four Aircooled Motors-built “Franklin 335” helicopter engines purchased from Bell Aircraft from air-cooled to water-cooled. In the end, these projects paid off well and they found the engine to power the new Tucker ’48 – the converted Franklin 335.

1956 - The month of December also marks great sadness in Tucker history and we mourn the loss of three true pioneers. On the day after Christmas 1956, Preston Tucker passed away of lung cancer. Stylist Alex Tremulis passed away in December 1991, followed by the death of Tucker interior stylist Audrey Moore-Hodges five years later in December 1996, and Tucker design team member Philip Egan in December 2008.

(Post credit: Jay Follis)


  1. Philip Egan also died in December -- 52 years (to the day) after Preston passed away.

  2. Thank you, Natalie. We've updated the posting.