Thursday, March 1, 2012

This Month in Tucker History

1947 - Excitement was in the air! The March 1947 issues of the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune introduced many readers to the Tucker with full-page advertisements. Those who picked up LIFE or Saturday Evening Post magazines nationwide found two-page ads announcing the "Most Completely New Car in Fifty Years." In all of these ads the car was described as the Tucker '48 and not the Tucker Torpedo as early promotional items had called it. If you have ever doubted the success of the initial promotion of the Tucker Motorcar, you only need to remember that even today many people will refer to the car as the Tucker Torpedo!

The future looked bright and, with all the activity, most were confident that Tucker Corporation would be in production shortly. By March 1947, the company had already raised $20 million with its sale of stocks and was able to secure a purchase / lease agreement with the War Assets Administration for the Dodge-Chicago plant.

Preston Tucker brought in the J. Gordon Lippincott design team, made up of Read Viemeister, Hal Bergstrom, Tucker P. Madawick, Budd Steinhilber, and Philip S. Egan, to complete design details for a Tucker prototype. Two full-scale clay models -- those of Chief Designer Alex Tremulis and the Lippincott team -- would eventually be built side by side as each team highlighted different features.

1948 - By the following year, March 1948, the highlight of the first annual stockholder's meeting was the demonstration of a complete car featuring the modified helicopter engine. The pilot production of Tucker automobiles had begun and 125 engines were ordered from the Franklin - Aircooled Motors plant in New York. Within just days of that order, Preston Tucker announced the purchase of Aircooled Motors by Tucker Corporation for a reported $1.8 million. It was also at this time that Audrey Moore, a leading female in the automobile industry, joined the Tucker Corporation design staff to handle interior styling.

1949 - By March of 1949 what had started as the vision of one man and became the dreams of so many seemed to be lost as Tucker Corporation entered into receivership with Preston losing control of his company to trustees A.J. Colnon & J.H. Chatz.

A factory inventory compiled by Dan Leabu on the third of March appeared to list Tucker # 1040 as being the last completed car. Sixteen other cars were shown as being "nearly complete," but without installed transmissions, engines or both, and Tucker Corporation's "cash on hand" was reported as only $219,193.00. Today, you would be hard pressed to find any owner of a restored Tucker willing to sell it for that amount! Also in March of 1949, the Detroit News brought further negative attention to the Tucker saga when it published, based on leaked SEC reports and misinformation, the very damaging article entitled "Gigantic Tucker Fraud."

1953 - Preston Tucker's own response to the demise of his car of the future -- "My Car Was Too Good" -- appearing in the premier issue of Cars Magazine, didn't hit newsstands until March of 1953.

(Post credit: Jay Follis)

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