1903: Preston Thomas Tucker, Automobile Pioneer, Born

September 21, 2018 all-day

A restored 1948 Tucker Torpedo

On Sept. 21, 1903, Preston Thomas Tucker, an automobile pioneer, was born in Capac. Tucker was the architect of a vehicle called the “Tucker torpedo,” a radical vehicle for its time that included a padded dash, a pop-out safety windshield and a center headlight that would turn with the car.

He found a factory in Chicago to manufacture his car in 1947 and he raised about $17 million through a stock sale to get his business off the ground. But Tucker openly complained that the auto industry used its political power to harass his business at every turn, sending spies into his company, bribing his employees and preventing him from securing needed materials.

Whatever chance the company had was lost when the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the company and word leaked to the press. By the time Tucker was cleared in 1949, irreparable damage had been done to the company. Only 51 tucker sedans were ever built and Tucker died in 1956 of pneumonia in Ypsilanti.

The 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on Tucker’s spirit and the saga surrounding the car’s production.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Theatrical release poster

Sources :

Abigail Tucker, “The Tucker Was the 1940s Car of the Future; Visionary inventor
Preston Tucker risked everything when he saw his 1948 automobile as a vehicle for change”, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2013.

Preston Tucker wikipedia entry

Michigan Every Day

Leave a Reply