• May 15th 2009 at 6:58PM
  • 26
Many entrepreneurs have tried to break into the auto industry over the past century. Since the very early days, almost none have succeeded – or even lasted very long. Most such names have been forgotten and consigned to the dustbins of history. On the other hand, one of the most memorable failures of all time was Preston Tucker and his radically unconventional Torpedo. Only 51 of the forward-thinking sedans were built in 1948 before the company finally went belly up permanently.

One of those rare completed cars (no, not this one) will be put up for auction next month in Oakland, along with a a second engine and assorted other parts. Given the current economy, it will be interesting to see how high the bidding gets on this special piece of automotive history. The auction will be held on June 7 at Clars Auction House, but no, a DVD copy of Coppola's Tucker: The Man and his Dream will not be included in the purchase..

[Source: TuckerForSale.com, Photo by norjam8 | CC2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      In '48, the competition would have been pretty ugly, although not this bad. But in '49 several modern attractive designs came out. Ford, Chevy, Mercury, and Studebaker come to mind. Or maybe Studebaker was '50. Does anyone remember? No, I guess you don't remember. I saw these things when they were new, although I was a small child.
      BERT U.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great and wonderful story about Preston Tucker and his perseverance no matter the adversity. More you read about him, the more intriquing it is. Love the convertible too. Any new news on it? Would love to hear more about it!
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's like a DeLorean triclops
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is a nice looking car, even if not museum quality stock.

      Has anyone thought that perhaps it is time for another tucker-like move?

      The Domestics are on the rocks, and aren't really in a position to quash a visionary engineer with a passion for cars.

      The only HUGE problem is the government. They control the regulations, they control the competition, and they have vested interests in both. They would perhaps be the biggest obstacle in just about every way possible to true inventive and visionary entrepreneur.

      And moreso than Fisker or Tesla. I am talking about a paradigm shift, and re-think of how cars are made, both technically, and as a business model.

      That is what is supposed to happen when top-heavy dinosaur car companies topple. That is capitalism, and obviously what this country is departing from.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Boxer,

        What the hell happened to you that you're such a conspiracy theorist? Are you holed up in your basement with an aluminum foil helmet because you think the government is out to read your thoughts or something?

        I want to know, do you really think there are visionary engineers who have an understanding of physics, manufacturing, and business beyond all of those that are working in the industry now that are just sitting there because they are afraid the other companies and the government will squash them if they try?

        How do you propose that a company make a paradigm shift and figure a new way to build cars and run a company? Do you think the plant should run the cars down from the ceiling instead of across an assembly line? What forms of design and engineering are in place in any industry that would be beneficial to the auto industry but are being quelled by the government or the big 3 (I'm sure Toyota, Honda, VW, etc. would have no problems even though Ford, GM, and Chrysler would most assuredly kill such a man)? In what ways are the auto manufacturers holding themselves back?

        When you've figured out a way to tackle the cost and practice of designing and engineering a vehicle in some magical way that doesn't exist, meet all the federal mandates for safety, come up with a new way to manufacture them, market them, distribute them, distribute parts, distribute warranties, protect your company legally, etc. you let us know, because if someone could do it, in this day and age, it would get done.

        We don't live in the 40s anymore, technology and convention have changed and continue to change at a dizzying rate. The auto industry too has changed, much because of competition, but it has also stayed the same in many ways, probably due to the fact that you need large companies to offset the costs associated with creating this particular product and no one has found any better ways of doing it yet. This is the reason the industry seems slow compared to others. They aren't creating a new fangled $750 phone to compete with $100 ones. They'd be creating a $1,500,000 car to compete with $20,000 ones. While there are enough techies to make the $750 phone worth producing, thus allowing the tech to trickle down, there aren't enough rich people who would lay out that kind of money for a car that is 75 times more expensive than the average to make such a task doable. It's a simple matter of the cost of the product in relation to all other products out there and the income of the average end user.

        I'm not saying that things won't continue to change, they will, and if better ways are found, what's stopping them from doing that? Do you really think that with all the car companies out there these days, both foreign and domestic, that all of their execs are ultra resistant to change? I seriously doubt it.

        I'd also take movies based on
        • 6 Years Ago
        @mike,

        You don't know me, so why don't you keep your theories about me to yourself.

        It is well known, and completely obvious that the bureaucratic red tape in Washington, and in the Big 3 themselves is miles thick. Bureaucracy always serves to maintain and grow itself, not to get out of their own ruts.

        The Big 3 are obviously doing so well with their business models... with two of them in, or near bankruptcy, and the third heavily in debt.

        They keep offering re-hash of the same products over and over, and wonder why they get the same luke-warm response.

        Government is inserting itself un-constitutionally into the automotive industry. They have taken tacit control of GM and Chrysler. I have problems with that, as any freedom-loving American Citizen should.

        I have doubts about what that competition will do to Ford, and Ford is long established, let alone a new upstart with new ideas. How are government-run GM and remnants of Chrysler going to like that competition, when the unions hold the reigns of the company, and the government has a vested interest, along with a regulatory role on the whole industry. It is government-led anti-trust monopolistic behaviour waiting to happen.

        It has happened like that before. Read some history, man!

        While I think there is a good opportunity here for new players with new products and new methods in this 'game,' I think the existing players, including the government that just dealt itself into the game, are not going to take kindly to it, and that is unfortunate.

        If you can't see the writing on the wall, that is your problem. I can, and that doesn't make me crazy. It makes me observant. You should try it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        cut myself off,

        My last point was that movies based on fact are always tarted up for entertainment value. While I'm sure Tucker was impeded heavily by competition, but there's a lot of literary license that goes into these movies.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You know Mike, naysaying only means you don't have the capacity to envision a better alternative. Sure there are obstacles as their are with any new endeavor but please spare us the nihilistic viewpoint. That's how unambitious peons rationalize their miserable existence rather than putting their effort into something they might fail at. Tucker failed and he's still remembered because at least he had the balls to try. So why not again?

        First off, let's be reasonable. The most likely person to create a new player in the automotive world will probably have an automotive background. Maybe someone breaks away from a mainstream automaker after much success and proposes a heavy industry company to invest in a new brand. Hell, isn't that was happened with Subaru? They saw a niche market and thought the boxer engine design was worth putting in the front of everyday cars. So resources can be had for those who have a strong proposal and it does work.

        As far as re-imagining the car, it's bound to happen. Whose to say even something as basic as assembly lines will stay the same. At one point the assembly line was the INNOVATION for god sake! But anything can change from engineering to marketing to management to concept.

        And trust me when I say that many business models right now (especially in larger companies) are more dick measuring than sound economic directions. There's this fascination with squashing competition which causes companies to LOSE money on investments just for the sake of having less competition. Why not make MORE money and have the competition? I spoke to much of the highest levels of management at Starbucks about this a while ago. What did they do? They built hundreds more stores than necessary and found themselves sitting with investments that sucked money from them. Eventually they were forced to close hundreds of stores. That's insane business strategy. That's like buying all the stocks to a company as demand peters off. Why? Because you want it all. If you think that attitude CAN'T be improved upon, I'd truly be blown away.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hold that tiger! Hold that tiger!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've seen that car up in its garage in San Francisco. The owners are daft to offer a car like that through the auction house they are using. It really deserves to be sold at a proper car auction.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Very nice car. Would love to own one. Too bad about the chances.lol
        • 6 Years Ago
        "too bad about the chances.lol" because I said i'd like to own one, but the chances of that are low.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That one is a mild custom. The only thing I can't take is the louvers on the front. Those aren't easy to undo.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the idiots that read and comment int this blog continue to astound me. do some friggin research before you make proclamations such as the first two in this comments section. the Tucker was far advanced for it's time. i won't even bother with listing it's forward-thinking attributes, i doubt you idiots can even read. i doubt you have any idea what the prevailing styles of the late 40s were either.

      that being said, i've never seen a Tucker with those ventilating louvers in the forward section of the hood before.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thank you. Made same comment earlier regarding the armchair CEO's telling Toyota how to run a business.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The car for auction is not the car pictured on the posting - another misleading Autoblog post.

        If you follow the tuckerforsale.com link it shows a stock Tucker in the brochures.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Technologically, the Tucker was indeed outstanding. It was a true engineer's car. And as a fan of all things automotive (particularly from the 40s through the 60s), I appreciate what this car represents. However, the comments about its styling are not unfounded-- it is not regarded as having particularly attractive styling even by automotive historians. The late 40s and early 50s are full of some of my favorite designs of all time, and a great many of the Tucker's contemporaries were far prettier. Not as advanced, for certain, but much more attractive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Of the 51 built, 47 of them survive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That really says it all as far as the craftsmanship and appeal this car had. I don't think any other car produced in such limited numbers was so highly sought after or prized by their owners to keep such a high percentage of them around, let alone 61 years later.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If Tucker's firm had not closed, the automotive landscape might have been quite different today. So many small firms from that era including, Tucker, Packard, Studebaker simply could not compete with the giants from Detroit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've seen this one (or one exactly like it) in South San Francisco... An older couple was driving it like it was just some car.... Pretty cool, just driving it to lunch.

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