The Tucker 1948 Torpedo was a truly a king among kings. It was born at the right place, but at the wrong time. Conceived with the best of intentions, it was brought to its knees by fraud allegations. Only 51 of them ever saw the light of day.
Preston Tucker brought this car into the world with the best of intentions. Like I'm going to build the best damn car America had ever seen...try and stop me.
The 48s had loads of tech that would make Silicon Valley look like a 2nd hand Taiwanese electronic shop. It had crazy third eye headlight that moved with the steering wheel. So you can see the pedestrian you were about to hit when turning a blind corner. 17 states were lame and didn't allow the crazy eye, so those Tuckers came with a cover to hide it. Thanks Florida.
It was wayyy ahead of Porsche with its rear-engined, rear wheel drive layout. What about safety? It's got you covered bro, with a full perimeter frame and a built in rollover bar. The Torpedoes had a padded dash and the steering box was put behind the front axle to protect the driver from being impaled by it in case of a front end crash. The windshield was even made from shatter-proof glass, because flying shards to the face will ruin anybody's day.
During testing, one of the cars rolled 3 times from 95 mph. The driver, chief mechanic Eddie Offutt, walked away from that with just minor bruises. The car still started up after that silky smooth.
Just look at that interior! I firmly believe that world peace can be achieved if everyone just sat in one. Want to know something neat? The engine and transmission was held in place by just 6 bolts. It was purposely designed to quickly drop the motor for whatever reason. LS swap anyone?
The Torpedo had a 334 cubic inch flat-6 helicopter engine that made 166 hp. The original 589 cubic inch 9.7 L Hemi flat-6 that Tucker spent a year working on, didn't work out so well. It was full of problems. At least It had 4 wheel independent suspension.
(My sentiments to the 589 engine for not working out)
It could have been a game changer. This is where Tuckers demise comes into play. Tucker raised a cool $17 mil ($174,788,376 in today's dough). All is still good. Then the company put out an accessories program. Tucker's program allowed potential buyers who purchased Tucker accessories to obtain a guaranteed spot on the Tucker dealer waiting list for a Tucker 48 car. This gave the company an additional $2 mil ($20,563,338 in today's cash) in revenue.
This concept was investigated for legitimacy by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It led to an indictment of company executives which is never a good thing. All the fraud charges were eventually dropped but not before the negative publicity destroyed the company. It's the same kind of fate that ruined the DeLorean Motor Company decades later.
50 Tucker Torpedos were completed with the 51st partially done before the company closed its doors...forever.
The good will always die young.