There's something about the sheer audacity of the Tucker 48, sometimes also called the Torpedo, that makes this quirky American sedan so intriguing even 60-plus years after its introduction. Preston Tucker was only ever to complete 51 of them, and several of the remaining units were sold at auction after the company went bankrupt. Despite all of that, with its air-cooled flat-six engine hanging out back and Cyclops-like center headlight, the car has continued to withstand the test of time.
Preston Tucker was one of the great iconoclasts of the post-war automotive industry, and his Tucker 48 attempted a look unlike any car seen before (or since). However, a trial brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission sunk the company, despite it being found not guilty. Tucker never gave up on the auto business though and went to Brazil in the 1950s to restart things with an all-new sporty design. Now, some newly discovered photos might shed more light on that almost-forgotten model.
The story of the Tucker Car Corporation is a tragic one. Its sole model, the 1948 Tucker Sedan, had a huge number of innovations, with a particular focus on passenger safety, but a catastrophic debut and the ensuing media firestorm it created caused severe problems for the brand. Other issues followed, with an SEC investigation and rumors of troublemaking on the part of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
Allow us to clarify: the Tucker Torpedo Convertible we wrote about recently should herewith be referred to as the purported Tucker Torpedo Convertible. The droptop claiming to be a Torpedo will be up for auction in Scottsdale soon, offered by Russo and Steele. A note from the Tucker Automotive Club of America, however, states that it knows of no such car ever having been made by the Tucker Corporation. The statement says, in part:
Tucker, undoubtedly one of the most famous of the many failed automotive companies the world has seen, was way ahead of its time in automotive technology. Featuring a rear-mounted engine that first designed for helicopter use, a full perimeter frame, a padded dash for safety and – lest we forget its most iconic design element – the cyclops front headlamp, the Tucker Torpedo stood apart from the crowd. As you probably already know, though, Preston Tucker's dream came crashing down aft