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Preston Tucker - part 1
Preston T. Tucker (b. Feb. 8, 1903 - d. Dec. 26, 1956)
Associated Designers
Alex S. Tremulis, George S. Lawson

At the end of December, 1946 a charismatic entrepreneur from Ypsilanti, Michigan paid a visit to the offices of  Tammen & Denison, a well-respected Detroit industrial design firm. The gentleman, one Preston T. Tucker (b. Feb. 8, 1903 - d. Dec. 26 1956), had recently lost his designer and was hoping Tammen & Denison could help get his self-named automobile manufacturing project back on track.

Tucker was a former automobile salesman and small-time defense subcontractor who believed large profits could be realized in the post-war automobile market. Not content to make a profit selling somebody else’s car, he insisted on manufacturing his own, incorporating his own ideas, built to his not-so exacting specifications.

Although director Francis Ford Coppola (who owns two Tuckers) and producer George Lucas (who owned one) made a great film (Tucker: The Man and His Dream - 1988), they took numerous liberties with the facts and the film's underlying premise - that Detroit’s Big Three (Chrysler, Ford and General Motors) conspired to put Tucker out of business – is pure fiction.

In fact, a long list of Michigan-based auto suppliers made contributions to the project. The Hayes Manufacturing Co. used dies from eight metro Detroit firms to stamp out the Tucker's sheetmetal and suppliers such as Rohm and Haas, Stewart-Warner, and Motorola were three other well-known Tucker parts suppliers.

One direct competitor, the Ford Motor Co., even let Tucker have some blemished Lincoln Zephyr steering wheels gratis, providing they were replaced once Tucker's Sheller-built steering wheels were completed - the delay was blamed directly on Preston Tucker, not the Sheller Mfg. Co.

Several other metro-Detroit machine shops created the parts needed to modify the Cord transmissions for use on the pilot cars and Libby-Owens-Ford supplied the glass used in the spacious Tucker greenhouse. Although there were several notable delays in completing certain components, almost all were due to internal Tucker Corp. delays (normally Preston Tucker's indecision) and all of the components supplied by the numerous third-parties were of the highest quality.

Many Tucker fans and owners blame his demise on the Securities and Exchange Commission who launched three separate investigations into the firm's activities - the first related to Tucker's first attempt to sell distributorships; the second with  Tucker Corp.'s pending sale of $20 million in stock, and the third with an alledged scheme to defraud Tucker Corp.'s dealers and shareholders. The first two investigations found Tucker at fault, but he complied with their decisions and the investigations resulted in little damage to the firm's reputation.

Interestingly the third SEC investigation, which culminated in a 3-month long trial, where the jury found Tucker and seven associates not guilty of fraud, was the proverbial "nail in the coffin." It wasn't the trial that caused the damage - by that time Tucker Corp. had long been in the hands of a receiver - but the announcement some 16 months earlier that Tucker Corp. was once again under investigation.

Although Tucker Corp. was already in dire financial straits, it was hoped the debut of the firm's first run of pilot models - which had only recently entered limited production - would get a financial savior interested in the firm. Unfortunately all hopes were dashed the day when muck-raking journalist Drew Pearson announced the third SEC inquiry on his Sunday June 6, 1948 radio broadcast. 

Tucker stock - which had recently risen to an all-time high of $5 - took a precipitous dive early Monday morning (June 7,1948), and although its stablized around the $3 mark later in the week,  the pending investigation scared away whatever capital the firm might have been able to raise. Without a substantial influx in cash - somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30 million ($5-$6 billion today) - it's extremely doubtful the firm would have survived much longer than it did as its precarious financial position predated the SEC's summons by many months.

Although the approximately four dozen Tuckers that remain today are valued at $1 million+ each, in reality the 1948 Tucker was little more advanced than its contemporaries, and aside from its unusual appearance and spacious interior, it was in many respects a ‘streamlined lemon’.

Unfortunately Tucker got so carried away with marketing his 'dream machine' that he overlooked the mountain of work that was required to manufacture it. Another contributing factor was his insistence upon perfecting untenable techologies which caused serious delays, poor morale and constantly escalating costs.

Much has been written about Tucker the man, suffice it to say, his family loved and admired him and even his enemies considered him to be a Messianic leader and salesman. A People magazine biography described his physical appearance in great detail:

“Everything about Tucker was spectacular. He stood 6'2" and weighed 200 lbs., most of it muscle. Boldly handsome, he had large, dominating eyes and razor-thin lips. His black wavy hair was slicked back in the lounge-lizard style affected by George Raft, and a subtle effluence of Lucky Tiger hair tonic trailed him wherever he went. Invariably duded up in custom-tailored suits, jaunty black homburgs, expensive Chesterfields and two-tone shoes, he could have passed for a modish mobster—except for his screechy bow ties and the white cotton socks he wore for his athlete's foot.” 

Outsiders considered Tucker to be a shameless self-promotor who spared no expense to maintain the illusion of a successful businessman, despite the fact that many close friends knew him to be a disastrous manager. Tucker's ambitions were typically far ahead of his capabilities and most of his short-lived business enterprises had ended in failure, bitterness and charges of questionable bookkeeping.

One former employer, New Orleans’ boat builder Andrew J. Higgins, who handed Tucker his walking papers in late 1944, stated:

“We kicked him out for faking expenses, overdrawing salary and showing little regard for the money we advanced him.”

Another Tucker business partner, Abraham ‘Abe’ H. Karatz, was paid to move away and change his name to Harold A. Karsten in order to shield his criminal record from the Securities and Exchange Commission and potential Tucker investors.

Perhaps the Tucker automobile venture would be different, but the testimony at his trial proves otherwise. Although he surrounded himself with the best managers and engineers money could buy, he ignored their advice - prompting many to leave once they realized he wanted only positive feedback.

I humbly suggest that many were hired, not for their expertise, but so his advertisments could boast that Tucker Corp. had the best managers and engineers in the business. Unfortunately most of his best men either resigned, or  found themselves “locked out of the plant” after disagreeing with the boss.

However, Tucker rewarded loyalty, and if you happened to agree with his grandiose schemes - or pretended to because you badly needed a job - life at the plant could be a pleasant, although often maddening experience.

According to Alex S. Tremulis, the man who replaced George Lawson as Tucker's chief stylist:

“Preston Tucker was an extraordinary man, a man of many facets, and most of all, a man whose drive and enthusiasm were such that everyone around him was caught up in the whirlwind he created. There were times when I looked upon him as a mathematical moron, at other times an immature businessman ill equipped to hack his way through the jungle of modern commerce. And often he seemed to me just a brash, overgrown kid with a passion for automobiles.”

Time after time Tucker publicly announced totally unrealistic goals and time-tables - for the better part of a year he made periodic public statements that 100 cars a day would be rolling out of the factory withing the next 30, 60 or 90 days - despite the fact he had no engine, transmission, nor tooling to produce the sheet-metal required for building bodies for the pilot models.

Tucker also had the nasty habit of alienating the very people (bankers, investors, government agencies) who were in a position to help him, accusing them of  conspiring to put him out of business whenever they refused his requests for assistance. 

One former associate told People:

“Tucker still is a juvenile, capable of enthusiasms so wild that he cannot distinguish good from bad. Whatever his enthusiasm dictates, no matter how fantastic, is absolute fact,” and another stated: “You can't depend on his word. He will tell you a lie, know that you know he is lying, yet keep on telling it.”

During his lengthy 1949-1950 trial much of the testimony from former associates,  business partners, engineers and managers was especially damaging - his hubris went far beyond mere ignorance or incompetence. Several early partners stated Tucker told them early on - come invest with me, we'll make a fortune, even if the car goes bust.

Although he invested a lot of his time, Tucker invested none of his own money in the $30 million enterprise. Early on very little was spent on engineering while an extroadinary amount ($1,306,256) went to advertising - not for the car (the money was spent long before he had a running prototype) - but to advertise his $5,000 distributorships and his upcoming $20 million public stock offering.

I asked a psychiatrist friend of mine to describe Tucker's personality. He fits into three basic groups (as originally characterized by psychologist Dr. Theodore Millon):

(1) Histrionic personality subtypes:

-Vivacious (narcissistic features): vigorous, charming, bubbly, brisk, spirited, flippant, impulsive; seeks momentary cheerfulness and playful adventures; animated, energetic, ebullient.

-Theatrical (variant of ‘pure’ pattern): affective, mannered, put-on; postures are striking, eye-catching, graphic; markets self-appearance; is synthesized, stagy; simulates desirable poses.

-Disingenuous (antisocial features): underhanded, double-dealing, scheming, contriving, plotting, crafty, false-hearted; egocentric, insincere, deceitful, calculating, guileful.

(2) Narcissistic personality subtypes:

-Unprincipled (antisocial features): deficient conscience; unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive; a con man and charlatan; dominating, contemptuous, vindictive.

-Amorous (histrionic features): sexually seductive, enticing, beguiling, tantalizing; glib and clever; disinclined to real intimacy; indulges hedonistic desires; bewitches & inveigles the needy and naïve; pathological lying and swindling.

(3) Antisocial personality subtypes:

-Risk-taking: (histrionic features): dauntless, venturesome, intrepid, bold, audacious, daring; reckless, foolhardy, impulsive, heedless; unbalanced by hazard; pursues perilous ventures

-Reputation-defending (narcissistic  features): needs to be thought of as unflawed, unbreakable, invincible, indomitable; formidable, inviolable; intransigent when status is questioned; overreactive to slights.

Tucker blamed everybody but himself for the failure of his company and never apologized to the 1,872 Tucker dealers and distributors, nor the 44,000 stockholders who provided the $30 million he blew though in a little over 18 months. Clearly Tucker would have made a great politician or TV evangelist - an automobile manufacturer, not so much.

Tucker didn’t like to talk about his childhood so the only details we know come from census data and an interview his mother gave to Charles T. Pearson in preparation for his 1960 biography of her son and his self-named automobile, “The Indomitable Tin Goose.”

Preston Thomas Tucker was born on September 21, 1903 in the village of Capac, Mussey Township, St. Clair County, Michigan to Shirley Harvey and Lucille Caroline 'Carrie' (Preston) Tucker. Married on January 7, 1901 in Barryton, Mecosta County, Michigan, his parents subsequently moved to Capac where his mother taught school and his father raised peppermint in the nutrient-rich muckland that made up much of Mussey Township. His father Shirl also worked for the American Peat and Fuel Co., a short-lived Capac peat briquette plant managed by his father John E. Tucker (Preston's grandfather).

A younger brother named William S. Tucker joined the household on August 26, 1905 but only 18 months later tragedy struck when the young brothers’ 27-year-old father succumbed to septic peritonitis (as a result of appendicitis) on Feb. 8, 1907.

Shirl Tucker’s untimely passing left his wife Lucille with two small boys to support, her only resources being her family, her own strong will and a provisional teaching certificate from the Ferris Institute at Big Rapids, Michigan. Lucille and the two boys moved in with her parents at Osceola, Michigan where she subsequently found a teaching position with the Osceola County district schools. The 1910 US Census shows Preston Tucker living in the Osceola, Michigan home of his maternal grandfather, Milford A. Preston, a local lumberman.

Tucker’s mother told Charles T. Pearson about a specific event from Preston’s childhood which greatly influenced the rest of his life. Pearson relates:

“He was out on the country road riding with his grandfather in a buggy behind a team of horses. It was a dusty, gravel road in northern Michigan. Suddenly they heard a car coming. Grandfather stopped the horses, jumped out of the buggy and grabbed the reins up close. This was standard, conventional practice in those days before horses had become accustomed to cars. He hollered to the boy to jump out too. ‘That fool with his gasoline buggy may scare the horses,’ the old gentleman explained. ‘We have to hold them so they won’t run away.’

“To Preston this was an unforgettable experience. He did not sympathize with the horses or feel sorry for the old man. His mind was hypnotized by the car he saw coming. It was sort of weaving along the rough road. About half a block away the car stopped and the driver motioned to Grandfather to lead the horses past.

“When the animals smelled gasoline they shied and reared, but Grandfather got them past the car and tied them to a tree beside the road. Then he walked over to speak to the driver, who was a doctor from his town.

“Preston’s eyes could not leave the car. The gasoline smell that scared the horses and made his grandfather swear was perfume to him. Preston had seen pictures of automobiles but this was the first time he had actually seen one. It was almost like a religious conversion. What the boy had seen was a vision, a symbolic sign of his own future, an experience he would never forget.

“Almost in a daze, too excited to ask questions, Preston got back into his grandfather’s buggy and went down the road. He looked back at the shiny red automobile. It grew smaller, but he promised himself that he would own a car like that someday. Soon afterward he was examining designs and determining to build a car of his own that everyone else would admire.”

Another story from relates that a shiny new Buick ran over his toes at about the age of six. Unhurt but fascinated, spunky Preston reportedly stole the Buick’s gas cap as a souvenir.

At the start of the First World War Lucille’s sister Harriet encouraged her to move the boys to Detroit so they could get a better education and she could find a better paying job.  They moved into a small house at the corner of Ecorse Rd. and Fort St. in the southwest suburb of Lincoln Park and she took a job at an office, but soonafter got a job teaching in the Detroit Schools. She recalled how Tucker and his younger brother - like most children of their day - were pretty much left on their own while she was at work:

“I worked all the time and it was really kind of funny. I had certain rules that the kids had to be home for meals and be in before dark. Where they were in the daytime when they weren’t in school I didn’t know, but at nights they were home unless they had permission to go somewhere. I would walk right into a poolroom and take them out. I didn't fool.

“They were pretty good kids, both of them, and about the only trouble I had was Preston always getting his clothes all full of grease and dirt, hanging around garages and used car lots. I used to say, ‘How do you think I'm going to keep you clean for school?’

“Keeping him clean was the biggest problem - but Preston thought he was doing something worthwhile and I guess in a way he was. He was never lazy, he was always doing something. Maybe they only paid him a quarter for running errands or helping, but he was never any trouble. Then other kids were out playing he was working and learning everything he could from mechanics and car salesmen.

“They both had to have bicycles, of course, and I guess Preston was sixteen when he coaxed me to get our first car. It was an Overland touring and Preston made the deal himself. I think the man’s name was White and we gave him $300. It was a good car, shiny, and it looked good and ran good. We ad it a year and a half, and then Preston sold it for $300, and he got cash. Next we had a Model T coupe. It cost $800, too, but there was something wrong with it. I told him, ‘Preston, you’d better sell it,’ and he did, for $350.

“A few weeks later he got a big Chandler touring car. The nun wanted $750 but Preston said, ‘I’ll give you $350.’ That was all the money he had and the man took it. I told him, ‘You’ve got to sell it, that car is too big for us.’ But by now Preston thought he was quite a mechanic and he said it needed a little fixing before he could sell it. I came home from school no day and there were gears and things all over the garage floor, with numbers on the floor in chalk.

“I said to him, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ He said he was fixing the transmission. I said, 'You'll never get it back together again,' and he said, 'I will too. I know just how I took the parts out and I've got them all numbered.'

“We finally had to pay a mechanic $64 to get it back together, and I told Preston again, ‘I don’t want that big car,’ so he sold it for $610. Next he bought a ‘Harroun,’ I think it was. Ray Harroun, a fellow who had some money, started making them in Wayne, and Preston said they were fast and snappy and just what he wanted. He was going to Cass Technical school in Detroit and driving the car to school.

“I told him, ‘You know what’s going to happen? Some day that car is going to stop right in the middle of the street and you’ll never get it started again, and I don’t care.’ And that was just what happened. That was the end of that car and it was the only one we ever lost money on, but it didn't cost very much to start with. All the time he went to school he worked. For a while he worked in a soda fountain in Detroit, and later he was an office boy at Cadillac.”

At Cadillac Tucker became well-known for delivering the mail on rollerskates, and on one occasion ran into D'Orsay McCall White, Cadillac's vice president for engineering. Tucker's 1946 Torpedo brochure claimed that While also tutored him in engine  and chassis design while he worked at the firm. White left Cadillac  on May 12, 1919 and Tucker followed in 1920. 

The 1920 US Census lists the Tuckers at 35 Hecla Ave. Detroit, his mother’s occupation, teacher, public schools; Preston’s occupation, clerk in a drugstore.

It was during this period that he joined one of the post-war aerial barnstorming acts as a summer job. At the flying circus’ Monroe, Michigan appearance, Tucker lost the flip of a coin and at the last minute replaced the team’s parachutist, despite having no experience. He got out safely but missed the field and crash-landed on top of a freight car, after which he spent a short spell in the hospital reflecting on his mistakes.

In 1920, Tucker took a job with the Lincoln Park police force as a motorcycle patrolman but his mother forced his dismissal when it was revealed he was under the minimum age requirements to join the force. She recalled:

“Preston was pretty good giving money to me, both the boys were always good that way. When his friends were out of work Preston always had a job, and the only one I didn’t like was when he started working for the police in Lincoln Park. If I got him off that police force once I must have done it a dozen times. It was pretty wild and woolly around there then and I was always afraid there would be shooting. After he got married there wasn't much I could do about it because he needed the job to support a family.”

He got a job on an assembly-line machine at the Ford Motor Co. in June of 1921, his mother recollecting:

“I didn’t like that and I told him, ‘Don’t you stand at a machine all day. Make them give you a job where you can learn something.’ I think he finally got some kind of a checking job.”

Tucker didn't remain there long and was soon back working for the Lincoln Park Police Dept. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lincoln Park’s chief of police Floyd M. Crichton, who served with Tucker as a rookie, recalled Tucker as a brash and nervy young motorcycle cop who arrested several armed criminals at gunpoint during his short time on the force. In an interview with Charles T. Pearson, Crichton provided a few more details:

“That two-mile stretch of riverfront along Ecorse was one of the toughest areas in the whole country. It was a main port of entry for booze from Canada, and more money changed hands there during bootlegging days than anywhere else in the United States. It was a tough district and being a cop was a tough job.

“Pres and I worked together. We rode motorcycles daytimes ten months of the year and squad cars after midnight. Pres was a good cop. There wasn't a damn thing he was afraid of and he could spot a booze runner a mile off. He learned all the tricks of dirty fighting in the police and he could handle a gun. I don't think he ever started a fight, but if he had to he never hesitated.

“In those days they hauled liquor in big touring cars, with the rear springs built up to carry the load. When we saw a car going through town with the rear end riding high we knew they were empty, and when they came back through with the back springs dragging they had a load. The big operators averaged two loads a week, and some loads would bring $3,000 wholesale, retailing up to $10 a gallon. So the boys driving those cars were plenty tough.”

Crichton reportedly served as Tucker's bodyguard after his life was threatened by a Chicago mob during 1949.

In an interview with Charles T. Pearson, Tucker's widow Vera recalled one scary incident that she witnessed shortly before they were married. Vera, Preston, his brother William and his date went to a baseball dance in Lincoln Park:

“Things were wide open, there were a lot of tough characters who didn’t like Preston because he worked with the police, and besides his mother had been giving them a lot of trouble trying to stop cock fights in the downriver section.            

“It was about midnight when some fellow started waving a $50 bill in the air and yelling that he could lick anybody in the place, and he was looking right at Preston. I said, ‘Nobody’s going to fight anybody - I’m leaving right now.’

“All four of us ran down the stairs and got in our car - it was an Oakland - and people were popping up around cars all over the place. We started up Fort Street with Preston driving when somebody started shooting at us and two or three cars came after us. They tried to run us off the road, and when that didn't work they tried to pin us between them.

“I kept watching and telling Preston ‘left’ and ‘right’ so they couldn’t get up alongside of us. We must have been doing sixty or more and we were coming to a bridge over the Rouge River when Preston said, ‘I’m going to try something - don't get scared.’

“He let one car get almost even with us and then swerved clear to the left so the other car had to leave the road or run into the side of the bridge. When I looked back it was plowing into the ditch, but the other car was still right behind us.

“Preston kept driving up Fort Street until he got to Grand Boulevard. There he spun the car around in a sharp left turn and drove right up the middle of the parkway to the Scotten Avenue fire station. I guess I wasn’t really scared until it was all over.”

He remained at the police department until April of 1923 when he assumed a 6-month lease on a Lincoln Park gas station that was scheduled for demolition. Shortly thereafter - July 25, 1923 - Tucker wed  Jackson, Missouri native Vera A. Fuqua, who was working in Detroit as a secretary at the phone company. Although Tucker was able to extend the lease on a month-to-month basis, in June of 1924 he abandoned the garage and went back to work for theLincoln Park Police Department.

Although Tucker had managed to avoid gun battles during his previous two stints on the force, during his third he single-handedly capturedtwo gunmen in an automobile chase and battle that extended from Lincoln Park to Wyandotte. Using one hand to steer and the other to return fire, he doggedly pursued and apprehended the fleeing criminals. A faded, torn newspaper clipping that his mother provided to Charles T. Pearson provides the details:

“On a Sunday afternoon he was alone driving a big Hudson squad car when he spotted a car that had been reported stolen from Highland Park, a Detroit suburb. The car was an eight-cylinder Peerless touring, and when he forced it to the curb two men in the front seat had him covered with pistols.

“‘Just keep right on going and you won’t get hurt,’ the driver told him.

“Tucker went on, but he circled the block and started after the Peerless with his service revolver in his lap and a sawed-off shotgun on the seat beside him. People ran for the curbs as the Peerless sped through the village with the Hudson behind, siren screaming. A little way outside of town the car in front plowed through a light fence and across a field, with the Hudson right behind. Across the rough field they went, through a wooden fence and back onto the highway.

“Through the field and down the highway Tucker drove with his right hand and shot around the windshield with his left, while one of the men in the Peerless shot back. At the end of a straight six-mile stretch the Peerless missed a sharp turn and came skidding and sliding to a stop in the soft mud of a plowed field.

“Tucker jumped from the Hudson with his shotgun in one hand and his pistol in the other. He ordered the men to throw clown their guns and get out of the car. When they got out he threw them a pair of unlocked handcuffs and told them to handcuff themselves together.

“One man said he didn’t know how. Tucker thought he was reaching for another gun, so he shot him through a shoulder with his pistol. Then they put the cuffs on, and Tucker ordered them back into the car, here he handcuffed one of the men to the steering wheel.

“Then he raised the hood of the Peerless and disconnected four spark plugs to hold its speed down, gathered up the two revolvers and made the men drive the car ahead of him to the police station.

“After the men were booked, it turned out that they were brothers who reportedly had robbed a bank in suburban Ferndale a few days earlier. Another brother had escaped from prison in Atlanta and sent word through the grapevine that he was coming to Lincoln Park to get Tucker.

“‘We put in some anxious days and nights,’ Mrs. Tucker said. ‘Preston's grandmother - we, called her Ma Preston - was living with us and there were the children. We kept the shades pulled down and every time we heard a car backfire we were scared stiff.’

“But the third brother never reached Lincoln Park. He was shot and killed trying to hold up a bank in Cleveland.”

As anone who has spent some time in a standard 1920s automobile is already well-aware, heaters were not included as standard equipment on most cars of the day. More often than not the cars assigned to patrolmen were sparsely equipped, and heaters were not considered required equipment, even in the northern environs of Chicago.

However Tucker took it upon himself to put a rudimentary heater in his patrol car which was installed using an acetylene torch borrowed from Lincoln Park's Department of Public Works, with which he cut a hole in the firewall so that hot air could be piped into the interior from the exhaust manifold. His longtime friendFloyd M. Crichton recalled what happened next to biographer Charles T. Pearson:

“It was early spring and the DPW was in hot water as usual that time of year,” said Crichton. “When it thawed, the streets started breaking up and every time some citizen hit a hole he would raise hell with the DPW. So when some taxpayer heard about Tucker cutting a hole in a city-owned squad car with a DPW torch, he was in trouble. They had no authority to lend the torch, and the next thing that would have happened would have been a hearing on destroying public property.”

Crichton recalled that although no official action was taken, Tucker was demoted to walking a beat for the next few weeks. Shortly after he returned to the police force for the third time, Tucker started selling Studebakers to earn extra money. In the course of business he met Mitchell W. Dulian, the man in charge of sales at Buick's factory store in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck. Dulian was considered by many to be one of the best auto salesmen in Detroit - and Tucker looked up to the conservatively dressed executive - even though he was only 3 years his senior.

Dulian offered Tucker a job as a salesman* at his Hamtramck Buick dealership and Tucker agreed, resigning from the Lincoln Park police force for the third time.

(*In 1947 tucker returned the favor, hiring Dulian as Tucker Corp.'s sales manager.)

In an interview with Charles T. Pearson, Dulian recalled Tucker's overwhelming enthusiasm:

“Preston Tucker really surprised me as a salesman, and I had been in the business a long time," Dulian said. "Within a few days he started selling cars, and it was only a short time before we outsold every other branch in Detroit. He had the gift of knowing what men wanted and what they would pay.

“His enthusiasm and new ideas were endless. We would have parades of our automobiles ending up on some main corner, where Tucker would go into his sales routine just like an old-time medicine man. He would make friends in the big stores and garages, and have them put up posters for our salesroom. Then he would make a deal with the storekeeper or garageman to send us prospects for a commission, and soon he had bird dogs all over town.”

Although Tucker was making more money than ever before, Hamtramck was 15 miles away - a good half-hour to forty-five minute ride from Lincoln Park - and he grew tired of the daily commute. He was aching to run his own show, and Tucker elected to return to the Lincoln Park Police Force in order to bide his time until a better opportunity came along.

The opportunity he was waiting for materialized several months after Buick transferred Dulian to manage its' Memphis, Tennessee operations in 1926. Dulian was put in charge of two stores and he wired Tucker to see if he was interested in becoming sales manager at the firm's 739 Union Ave. branch (just east of Myrtle St.), Vera Tucker recalling:

“When Preston got that wire I was so tickled I started packing right away. All the time I was expecting Marilyn, our third baby, and Preston's mother was getting things ready for the doctor.”

Tucker wired Dulian to expect him the next day and he took a temporary leave of absence from the Lincoln Park Police Dept. Vera, who was expecting at any minute, took him to the Michigan Central train depot and twenty-four hours later - March 6, 1927 - delivered their daughter, Marilyn Lee.

Tucker took up temporary residence with Dulian at Memphis’ Hotel Claridge, leaving his young family back in Lincoln Park to see if things worked out. Several months later the family left Lincoln Park and moved into a rented house at 914 Garland Place, Memphis.

When Buick transferred Dulian to its Bronx, New York distributorship (the 1930 US Census lists Dulian in Queens as ‘sales manager’ for an ‘auto manufacturer’) in 1928, Tucker took a position as general manager of the 1195 Union St. branch of the Automobile Sales Co., Memphis' Studebaker distributor. Owned by Ivor Schmidt, the firm also handled Erskine, Gardner and Stutz automobiles and operated a satellite branch at 255-259 Monroe Ave. (Memphis).

While working for Schmidt, Tucker began what would become a yearly pilgrammage to the Indianapolis 500, where he met race car builder Harry A. Miller at the 1929 race. Tucker and Miller discovered that they shared an enthusiasm for all things automotive, not to mention an ambition to turn that enthusiasm into cash.

Tucker is listed in both the 1929 Lincoln Park, Michigan (as a Manufacturers' Representative) and 1929 Memphis, Tennessee (as a General Manager, Automobile Sales Co.) directories.

Tucker subsequently took a position as sales manager with the John T. Fisher Motor Co., Memphis’ Chrysler, Desoto and Dodge distributor, and in late 1929 was offered a position as mid-west regional sales manager of Buffalo, New York’s Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Co.

The 1930 US Census lists Tucker at 1314 Warwick Ave., Lincoln Park, Michigan, his occupation, zone mgr., auto industry. Also included are his wife Vera, brother William S. Tucker and four children; Shirley S. (6yo), Preston T. jr. (4½ yo), Marilyn S. (3 yo) and Noble R. (11 mo) Tucker.

The flamboyant Tucker became a staple at the Indianapolis 500 and in 1932 he was photographed alongside Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, and Ford’s three sons, Henry (II), Benson and Edsel Ford.

After Pierce-Arrow sales experienced a steady decline during late 1932 and in early 1933 Tucker resigned and took a job as sales manager at Cass Motors, Detroit’s largest Dodge dealer. By the end of the year he was working for the Mundus Brewing Co. of Detroit as the firm's traffic manager.

A feature article in the January, 1934 issue of 'The Month at Mundus' highlighted the firm's new fleet of Dodge trucks whose self-loading truck bodies had been designed by Tucker. One of the pictures was included in The Power Wagon with the following description:

“A brewery that has made a clean sweep of its transportation, by re-equipping with new Dodge trucks, is the Mundus Brewing Company of Detroit. An innovation likely to revolutionize the hauling of beer in barrels is the unique self-loading truck body mounted on each of the above trucks. The designer, Preston Tucker, is seen standing in the foreground.”

While working for Mundus, Tucker's name was mentioned in regards to a planned rescue of the Marmon Motor Car Company, the January 9, 1934 Associated Press newswire reporting:

“New Company Will Make Marmon Autos

“Indianapolis, Indiana, Jan. 9 – (AP) – Formation of a corporation to acquire a portion of the plant, equipment and inventory of the Marmon Motor Car company with a view to resuming manufacture of Marmon automobiles and constructing motor products of Harry A. Miller of Los Angeles, was announced here today by A.D. Sterner and S.N. Wheeler.

“Sterner and Miller will be connected with the new company, to be known as the American Automotive Corporation. Motors built by Miller have been used in a large number of racing cars in the annual 500-mile automobile race here, among them the winners of every race since 1928.

“Another official of the new company named by Sterner is Preston Tucker of Detroit, Mich., former sales manager of Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company and later with the Four-Wheel Drive Auto Company of Clintonville, Wis.

“Sterner said the company will begin production of the Marmon ‘16’ as soon as final details are worked out, and will manufacture Miller racing cars, and high speed aviation and marine engines.

“The Marmon company has been in receivership.”

The Marmon deal fell through and Tucker lost his job as Mundus Brewing Co.'s traffic manager when they were forced into bankruptcy on August 20, 1935.

By that that time Tucker had already come up with another money-making scheme. Back in 1934 he had convinced his friend Edsel Ford to hire Harry A. Miller to construct 10 Miller-Ford racecars in the hopes of having a Ford-powered car win the Indianapolis 500 in 1935. Edsel admired Tucker after witnessing him light up one of his famous cigars in front of his father Henry. “Nobody smokes around me,” protested the senior Ford, to which Tucker countered, “Tell that to your flunkies. Don't tell me.”

Edsel took the bait and in late 1934 Tucker and Miller formed a partnership, Miller & Tucker, Inc., whose operation was capitalized at $50,000 (only $1,000 paid in).
They set up a plant on West Lafayette St. in Detroit where Tucker became good friends with Miller's chief mechanic, John 'Eddie' Offutt.

In the spring of 1935 Tucker decided he was going to run for mayor of Lincoln Park. During the campaign, he penned a passionate letter to his “friends and fellow citizens of Lincoln Park” stating:

“The boost in dollar wages and the cut in human was a blindfold march to the depression in which we are mired today... Finally, let’s all together save our homes, protect our laborer and farmer; save our business; our machinery and factories, upon all of which we ultimately depend.”

Tucker lost the April 1st election to Jasper N. Howard who would serve as Lincoln Park mayor for the next 7 years.

Still reeling from his political defeat, Tucker faced further embarrassment at the 1935 Indianapolis 500. The 1935 Miller-Fords weren’t adequately track tested and only 4 of the 10 cars conturcted qualified for the Memorial Day event. On race day the 4 car's steering boxes - which were located too close to the engine's exhaust - expanded due to the intense heat and locked up, causing all 4 qualifiers to drop out of the race. Unsurprisingly Ford withdrew his financial support of the Miller & Tucker operation, although the two partners became good friends when Tucker moved to Indianapolis the following year.

After the embarrassing failure of the Miller-Fords at Indy Tucker returned to the retail car business and in November of 1935 joined his friend and former employer Richard A. Cott - sales manager of Cass Motor Sales, Detroit - in the formation of Packard-Indianapolis, Inc., 1510 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm’s incorporation was announced in the March 15, 1936 issue of the Indianapolis Star:

“Packard-Indianapolis, Inc., 1510 North Meridian street, Indianapolis: resident agent, Preston Tucker, same address; capital stock, 500 shares of $100 par value; objects, to operate automobile sales agency. Incorporators, Richard A. Cott, Preston Tucker and Carl Neubauer.”

Co-workers recalled that Tucker “strutted around the showroom in short pants” while he sucked on his ever-present cigar. One memorable promotion involved Tucker driving a new Packard around Indianapolis with a real baby elephant in tow. Another stunt, pictured to the right, involved Tucker and two of his cronies (Indy 500 winners Wilbur Shaw &“Wild” Bill Cummings) posing in front of a new Packard dressed up as big game hunters. The 1937 directory lists his home address as the Indianapolis Athletic Club, which was located down the street from his Packard dealership at 350 N. Meridian.

Tucker subsequently moved his family from Detroit into a rented home in the Indianapolis suburb of Williams Creek, eventually purchasing a small farm located 25 miles northeast of downtown Indianapolis near Noblesville, Indiana.

The 1938 directory listing for Packard-Indianapolis Inc. no longer includes Tucker, who had been handed his walking papers by Cott, his replacement, William A.B. Hanchett. During 1937 Tucker developed appendicitis* and while reuperating from the appendectomy he took time to start reading Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace.’

(*which killed his father)

He became convinced that a European conflict was inevitable and felt an easily maneuverable high-speed armored combat vehicle would be a needed. After he learned that the New Jersey-based American Armament Corp. was looking for proposals for an armored combat car for the Dutch military* Tucker contacted his old friend Harry A. Miller and in late 1937 had him constuct an armored car, powered by a modified 478 cu. in. Packard V-12 engine.

(*The Netherlands Purchasing Commission were were looking to beef up their small collection of military vehicles due to the recent annexation of Poland by Germany. Tucker's connection with the firm was likely made through Indianapolis’ Marmon-Herrington Co. who were already working with American Armament Corp. on several contracts for the Dutch.)

Research reveals that Harry A. Miller had already constructed a narrow-wheelbase scout car for the *American Bantam Co., and that Tucker's Combat Car was likely the same vehicle. Close inspection of surviving pictures of the Miller prototype reveals it shared the same grill and headlights of Tucker's Combat Car although other features were different. Although Tucker had no engineering background he was very adept at putting deals together, especially if a large profit might be realized. Tucker's involvement likely consisted of getting Miller to modify the Bantam prototype to fit American Armament's specifications. AAC was probably footing the bill as Tucker and Miller were unlikley to have the capital required.

(*Although Miller's prototype was built for Bantam, it was substantially larger than the Jeep the firm submitted to the Army soon afterwards.)

On November 29, 1938 Tucker's Combat Car (aka Tucker Tiger) was evaluated by the US Army at its Aberdeen Proving Grounds. While the car's hard surface performance was exceptional - the Army clocked it a 74 mph – its off-road performance was fairly limited due to its excessive size and weight – it was sheathed in heavy 9/16” armor plate - and the government declined to order any duplicate examples for further testing.

Hoping to get others interested, American Armament Corp. produced a short industrial film that showed the ‘Tucker Combat Car’ going through its paces at the firm’s testing facility in NJ. The interesting film shows the vehicle equipped with a 37mm anti-tank gun in the turret as well as two .50 cals and two .30 cals on semi-flexible mounts. Several stills of the scout car in action were included in the February 1939 issue of Modern Mechanix with the following caption:

“Armored Tank Attains Speed Of 114 MPH.

“An all-welded armor-plated army tank which, it is claimed, can attain a speed of 114 m.p.h. over a level road and 78 m.p.h. over rough ground was recently demonstrated at Rahway, N. J. Invented by Preston Tucker, an armament manufacturer, the tank weighs 10,000 pounds, which is 2,000 pounds less than the present conventional type. Besides machine guns, it features an anti-aircraft cannon, which is mounted in a turret atop the rear of the armored body.”

The project was tabled for the time being and both Tucker and American Armament were likely disappointed when they learned that the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940. However the government thought the Combat Car's novel transparent gun turret showed promise and in 1939 he moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan - a small city of 12,000 located 35 miles due west of downtown Detroit - to continue its development.

Tucker and his growing family moved in with his mother, Lucille, and her second husband - Charles M. Holmes, the owner of the Ypsilanti Cartage & Storage Co., 17 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti - whom she had married on September 24, 1929.

Although Tucker never publically admitted it, the “Tucker turret” was designed in partnership with Casson W. Collver, and the patent - US. Pat No. 2,366,072 - includes both their names:

“Gun Control Mechanism – US Pat. No. 2,366,072 - ‎Filed Jul 18, 1939 - ‎Issued Dec 26, 1944 to Preston T. Tucker and Casson Wesley ‎Collver, assigned to ‎Tucker Aircraft Corp.”

The Army Material Branch tested Tucker’s armored car mounted turret in July 1939 and found it to be slow moving, but had an unusual feature of interest being a commutator that did not arc under rapid reversals. After attending a turret conference held at Wright Field in September of 1939, Tucker proposed to build an electric drive for the existing manual B-18 turret, asking $10,000 for development costs. The Material Branch reviewed Tucker’s design in December of 1940 and rejected it stating it was “not representative of assemblies contemplated for future procurement.” Tucker constructed a second, modified, prototype which was also rejected as unsatisfactory.

In May of 1940, Tucker formally organized the Tucker Aviation Corp., which was located in a 2-story 100' x 40' barn located behind his mother's 110 N. Park St. home. The firm's drafting and engineering office was located on the second floor while the firm's shop equipment which consisted of several belt-driven lathes, drill presses and horizontal milling machines were installed on the first.

The 1941 Ypsilanti, Michigan directory lists Preston Tucker as ‘salesman’, the 1942 directory as proprietor of the Tucker Aviation Co., parts mfrs., rear of 110 N. Park, his mother's home address.

Although he had yet to find any customers, Tucker continued to try and market his 1938 Combat Car, managing to get several pictures and a small  description into the January 1942 issue of Mechanix Illustrated:

“114-M.P.H. Anti-Aircraft Combat Car In Production

“An innovation in defense against enemy aircraft is this ‘mobile anti-aircraft fortress,’ now being manufactured for the U. S. Army by a Michigan firm. Unlike the usual aircraft defense battery, which can get but a comparatively few shots at an enemy plane as it swoops overhead, this unique ‘wheeled fortress’ races along under the plane at speeds up to 114 miles per hour and can actually get in thousands of shots before the plane is out of range. Its four guns pour out a total of 5,220 shots per minute—an automatic 37 mm. cannon firing 120 shots per minute, and three machineguns firing 5,100 shots per minute.

“Probably the world’s fastest ‘tank,’ the combat car is entirely arc-welded.”

The article demonstrates Tucker's growing mastery of ballyhoo*, a skill he would use to great advantage after the War while promoting his self-named automobile. His years as an automobile salesman had taught him that people were gullible and believed whatever they read or were told.

(*presentations or writing designed to get people excited or interested in something.)

Even though it only reached 75 mph in testing, Tucker maintained that his Combat Car's top speed was 114 mph and although the U.S. Army had expressed no interest whatsoever in the vehicle following its November 1938 trials at Aberdeen, he boasted it was “now being manufactured for the U.S. Army by a Michigan firm.”

While he was visiting Washington trying to get some War contracts, Tucker ran into
New Orleans boatbuilder Andrew J. Higgins (b. August 28, 1886 – d. August 1, 1952). Higgins thought Tucker Aviation's gun turret had possibilities and entered into a contract with Tucker Aviation Corp. to develop a model for use on his LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel aka Higgins' Boats), 20,000 of which were eventually constructed for use during amphibious landings during World War II.

Well-known Indianapolis engine builder and designer Yeikich K. “Jimmy” Sakuyama was hire on as Tucker Aviation's engineer. Sakuyama emigrated to the United States from his native Japan in 1908 in order to take engineering courses at Iowa and Wisconsin Universities. After graduation he moved to Indianpolis to work for the Premier Motor Co. as an engine designer. In 1931 he designed an air-cooled inline-4 aero engine that had been evaluated by the Air Corps., but had never entered production. By that time Sakuyama had become one of motor racing's top engineers and he worked on engines for the Chevrolet Bros., Duesenberg Bros., and Harry A. Miller - which is where he met Tucker. His WWII draft card, dated May 4, 1942, lists his full name asJames Yeikich Sakuyama (b. Nov. 24, 1885 in Tokyo) with a home address of 110 N. Park St., Ypsilanti - the same as Tucker. In fact several Tucker Aviation employees stayed with the Tucker family as housing in and around Ypsilanti was in short supply once construction began on the Willow Run bomber plant.

In addition to developing the gun turret, Tucker Aviation Corp. worked on a Harry A. Miller-designed engine for the Higgins' Boat and also developed plans for a lightweight fighter called the Tucker XP-57.

Exactly who designed the XP-87 aircraft is unknown – Tucker had no formal or practical engineering experience – but Tucker claimed the government ordered a prototype.
Nicknamed the ‘Peashooter,’ the aircraft was to have a steel tubular frame with an aluminum skin and plywood wings. The Harry A. Miller-designed inline-8 cylinder engine was situated directly behind the pilot in a configuration similar to that of the P-39 Airacobra. However it never got beyond the design stage as Tucker Aviation Corp. declared bankruptcy in mid-1941 before construction of the prototype commenced.

Although Tucker promised Andrew J. Higgins he could supply as many turrets as the boatbuilder required, his Ypsilanti operations were just too small. He eventually leased space in an old Graham-Paige plant located on Warren Ave. in Detroit, but was still unable to meet deadlines. According to longtime Ypsilanti resident and former Tucker employee Joseph Butcko, from 50-100 employees worked for Tucker Aviation during 1941 and 1942 using an assortment of second-hand machine tools.

On March 21, 1942 it was announced that Higgins Industries, Inc. had acquired the services of Preston Tucker as well as the assets of the bankrupt  Tucker Aviation Co., which included the firm’s two gun turret patents:

“Gun control mechanism - US Pat. No. 2366072 - ‎Filed July 18, 1939 - ‎Issued December 26, 1944 to ‎Preston T. Tucker and Casson Wesley Collver, assigned to ‎Tucker Aircraft Corp.

“Gun mounting and control mechanism - US Pat. No. 2408707 - ‎Filed August 16, 1941 - ‎Issued October 1, 1946 to ‎ Willis G. Stewart assigned to ‎Tucker Aircraft Corp.”

Andrew J. Higgins subsequently formed a new subsidiary, the Higgins-Tucker Motor Co., with Tucker as vice-president, and commenced construction of a new plant on Scott St., New Orleans, Louisiana to house it. The firm's sole purpose was to manufacture marine engines and machine gun turrets for Higgins Industries' LCVP, a stout, plywood landing craft with a retractible bow used in amphibious landings during World War II that was popularly known as the Higgins' Boat.

Also included in Tucker Aviation's assets was the “Combat Car” prototype which several Higgins Industries’ employees reported seeing  wasting away at Higgins-Tucker's Scott St. facility after the War. Higgins-Tucker Motor Co. also maintained a satellite hiring office in Detroit Michigan's Hoffman Bldg. in order to attract skilled ex-auto workers.

Tucker brought along his family and installed them in a big old Victorian mansion located on New Orleans' Gentilly Blvd., Vera recalling:

Preston worked the hardest I’ve ever seen a man work, he was nervous, and he got so thin he walked as if he were crippled. The doctor finally told him to get clear away from the plant on week-ends and take it easy. We used to leave early Friday afternoon and go to the Edgewater Hotel in Gulfport. Preston would lie around and sleep most of the time, and we'd go back Sunday night.”

Many of Tucker Aviation's former employees also made the move and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) records indicate the Scott St. plant employed approximately 300 persons during the War. In addition to Tucker's chief engineer Jimmy Sukayama, several other Indianapolis veterans accompanied him to New Orleans, the most famous being Arthur Chevrolet (of Chevrolet Bros. fame) who had worked for Tucker-Miller during the development of the“Mighty Miller” powerplant. Henry H. Smith, an ex-Packard and -GM engine manufacturing specialist, was another Tucker-Higgins hire as was Preston’s cousin, Maynard W. Tucker (b.1910), who designed an improved gun sight mounting, for which he received US Pat. No. 2,359,693:

“Gun Sight Mounting - US Pat. No. 2,359,693 - filed Mar 30, 1943, awarded Oct. 3, 1944 to Maynard W. Tucker, Ypsilanti, Mich. assigned to Higgins-Tucker Motor Co., New Orleans, Louisiana.”

During the War Sperry, Bendix, Martin, Emerson and Consolidated all produced turrets of various designs which were used in production aircraft - none were built using Tucker's patents and none of Tucker’s turret designs were installed on any US military aircraft during the Second World War. Sperry furnished the B-17 top turrets while Martin constructed the top turrets used on the B-25, B-26 and B-24 aircraft. Neither were Tucker designs. The General Electric Amplidyne drive system was eventually incorporated into the Martin (B-18) turret - a system totally unrelated to the electric drive prototype that Tucker had constructed.

Although pictures of the Tucker Turret cataloged by the National Archives list it as being for an Army flying boat, its only known application was on the Higgins’ boats – although it may have been fitted to some early Elco 70’ and 77’ PT boats as well.

Even though their 1935 Indy 500 entries had failed, Tucker had remained good friends with Harry A. Miller, and when the latter passed away penniless on May 3, 1943 Tucker attended his funeral and helped the family pay for his burial.

Little is known of Tucker's specific accomplishments in New Orleans save for the fact that Andrew J. Higgins handed him his walking papers in 1944:

“We kicked him out,” said Higgins, “for faking expenses, overdrawing salary and showing little regard for the money we advanced him.” In a suit, later settled, Higgins asked that Tucker account for some $845,000 in expenditures also claiming that Tucker “had diverted for his personal gain, $118,000.” In spite of their differences, Higgins regarded Tucker as “the world's greatest salesman” and once warned a business associate, “When he turns those big brown eyes on you, boy, you'd better watch out.”

A check of the records of the U.S. District Court, Detroit, reflects that the suit filed against Tucker on May, 5, 1944 was dismissed on February 9, 1946, as a result of a stipulation. An out-of-court settlement was made whereby Higgins would receive $50,000 when and if Tucker's lawsuit against the Emerson Electric Co., was settled.

Tucker had sued Emerson claiming they had used Tucker Avation's gun turret patents without authorization or compensation. Although they were similar in design, Emerson's turrets were based on a British Boulton-Paul design and Tucker's case was consequently dismissed. This incident formed the basis of Tucker’s oft-repeated claim that “the US Government had stolen his patents during the War.” 

Using his Higgins’ boat “windfall”, Tucker returned to Ypsilanti and established the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Co. The firm - which was ostensibly owned by Lucille C. Holmes, Tucker's mother, but operated after January 28, 1944, by Preston using an alleged power of attorney - was located in a rented 60’ x 200’ metal storage building located at 320 Babbitt St. just around the corner from the Holmes’ 110 N. Park St. home.

During the latter part of the War, Ypsilanti Machine and Tool worked on a number of small projects for military subcontractors located in and around Ypsilanti. It was staffed by a loyal band of Tucker employees who included Jimmy Sakuyama - who called a travel trailer home - and Daniel Leabu, a University of Michigan graduate who had worked for the Ford Motor Co. designing machine tools and electrical systems.

For many years Tucker had dreamed of building his own car, and theorized now was the time to begin planning for it as he could get a jump on the competition who were still busy producing war materiel.  

It was during this early stage of development that Charles T. Pearson, United Press’ Detroit correspondent, heard about Tucker's proposed “car of the future” from a friend named Alfred Raymond “Ray” Russell, who suggested:

“Why don’t you go and see Tucker? I hear he’s got something.”

Russell, a one-time vice president of the Burkhardt Co. - a supplier of color chip and upholstery sample books - had worked on B-29 bombers during the war and had developed an interest in the aircraft's complex hydraulic systems.

Russell was a lifelong inventor/tinkerer and used a rear-engined Stout Scarab as his daily driver - his son Ray B. Russell reports he used up 3 Ford V-8s during his ownership. He had built a crude plastic-bodied car on a salvaged 1941 Chevrolet before the War and after the Armistice took a job with the Ford Motor Co. where he worked on hydraulic systems which resulted in the constructed of a hydraulically-driven scooter he dubbed the“hydrocycle”. He subsequently applied “flowing power” to the automobile through a rear-engined hydraulically-powered car (“hydrocar”) which was described in the December, 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics by his friend Charles T. Pearson (uncredited):

“Coming Up - The All-Hydraulic Car

“Complete hydraulic drive is being tested in an experimental automobile whose ‘plumbing system,’ pumping oil from engine to drive wheels, eliminates some 800 pounds of conventional power transmission mechanism.

“Developed by Ray Russell, Detroit engineer and industrial designer recently retained by the Ford Motor Company, this rear engine car does away with the need for a clutch, transmission, drive shaft, torque tube, differential, differential housing, universal joints and rear axle.

“While details of the hydraulic equipment have not been revealed, the design is known to use multiple pumps, connected directly to the crankshaft of the engine, which force oil through motors on the wheels. A new type of braking action, provided by slowing down or reversing the flow of oil through the motor wheels, may eventually eliminate use of conventional drum type brakes, according to Russell.

“Experimental models now under construction feature a frame of welded steel tubing, individual wheel suspension, hydraulically operated windows, driver’s seat and windshield wiper and an engine that can be removed by taking out four bolts.

“Russell believes that since it is so easy to remove the engine, garages some day will stock spare engines to be installed in cars while repairs are made on the original engines — in the same manner that rental batteries serve car owners while their batteries are being recharged.

“Engineers and writers who recently rode in one of Russell’s experimental hydraulic-drive cars equipped with a plywood body reported smooth, silent operation without excessive heat in the hydraulic system a problem previously considered almost in surmountable.

“From seven to 15 speeds forward and reverse can be produced in the hydraulic-drive car, depending upon the number of oil pumps. Three pumps produce seven speeds, or ratios, and four pumps provide 15 speeds. Because of this factor, Russell says, performance is unbelievably smooth — comparable only to steam. More power is available in low gear than in any passenger car built, and a higher ratio is produced for fast level driving than in any known overdrive, the designer states.

“No public announcement has been made as to when the hydraulic car may go into production.

“Welded steel tubing, above, replaces conventional frame in this experimental hydraulic drive automobile developed by Ray Russell, shown seated at the wheel. Mounts for installing the engine between the rear wheels. This photograph, taken before a plywood test body was added, shows airplane wheels and tires used experimentally and later replaced by standard automobile wheels and tires. This type of frame permits freedom of interior design with floor space unobstructed by drive shaft or transmission.

“Diagram below illustrates the principal of the complete hydraulic drive. Note the flow of oil to both wheels under equal pressure, providing differential action without gears. A four-way valve (left of pump) reverses oil flow to replace reverse gear.

“Above, artist's conception of the Russell car with engine locatated at the rear and luggage compartment under the hood at the front. Left, this diagram shows the power transmission parts - tranmission, drve saft, differential, rear axle and universal joints - eliminated by the use of hydraulic drive equipment, with a saving in weight up to 800 pounds.

“Here is the designer's idea of a rear-engine, hydraulic drive car with full vision through a curved windshield. Each spacious seat will accommodate four persons, sided by side. The rear engine design prevents noises, vibration and fumes from reaching passengers. Wheel suspension is independent, both front and rear.”

The art which accompanied the Popular Mechanics article is remarkably similar to the first Tucker renderings, although they lack the cyclops eye and steerable cycle fenders found on George S. Lawson's Torpedo. The location of the engine and the ability to quickly remove it by unfastening four bolts are also shared with the Torpedo. Pearson also prepared a second aticle on Russell's car which appeared in the February 1946 issue of Popular Science:

“Oil Pressure Drives Gearless Car

“Lacking a transmission, drive shaft, and differential, a revolutionary new car has been undergoing tests in Detroit. Several pumps are directly connected to the engine crankshaft, and oil under high pressure is forced through pipes to ‘motors’ located at the wheels. Among the advantages claimed for this new drive are flexibility of operation, new freedom in body design, and savings of weight ranging up to 800 lbs. as compared to conventional cars.

“Though the Idea of a full hydraulic drive is not new, past endeavors to develop the principle never passed the experimental stage. For the last four years, a Detroit engineer and industrial designer named Ray Russell has been at work on the pump-and-remote-motors idea, and has produced the experimental models shown above and at the right. Lately he has been retained by the Ford Motor Company, reportedly to supervise hydraulic-drive developments.

“Full hydraulic drive should not be confused with the hydraulic coupling that has been used on many cars built since the late thirties. In these the fluid coupling is merely a link between the engine and the drive shaft, and still requires a geared transmission, either manual or automatic, a drive shaft, and a rear axle.

“Simplicity of operation is one feature that Russell believes will win public acceptance to full hydraulic drive. The only pedals on the floor board may be the accelerator and brake. A single valve that changes the direction of oil flow takes the place of the conventional reverse-gear system. Other valves, possibly automatically controlled, cut in or out the pumps used and thus change the effective ratio between engine and wheels.

“With three pumps of different capacity connected to the engine shaft, seven forward and reverse speeds are possible; with four pumps, 15 different speeds or ratios can be had. As shown schematically In the accompanying drawings, the basic valve action and pipe circuits required to control a hydraulic car are not complicated. All pumps turn with the engine, but only those operate in the hydraulic system that are cut into it by their feed valves. A pump that is temporarily cut out of the system by closure of this intake valve absorbs negligible power.

“The directional movement of the car (as contrasted to engine-to-wheels-ratio) is controlled by a four-way valve, which determines the direction of the oil flowing in the wheel-motor circuit, and which disconnects the engine and wheels when desired. By restricting or even reversing the flow of oil through the motors, it is possible to exert a powerful braking action that will greatly supplement that of conventional brakes.

“In test runs Russell’s model is said to have displayed smooth, silent acceleration, with plenty of power delivered at the wheels and without excessive heat in the hydraulic system. Pressure reached 1,000 lb. per square inch during starting, and dropped to 200 lb. after highway speed was reached.

“It is reported that temperature of the hydraulic system did not exceed 10 deg. above atmospheric temperature during the tests.  The design of the wheel motors has not yet been finally determined. It seems likely, however, that the most efficient motors will not resemble turbines, but will be similar to positive-displacement pumps. Thus the motor is nothing but a type of pump which, instead of being driven by a rotating power source, is turned by having oil forced through It. Wobble pumps, gear pumps, and internal-rotor pumps are all capable of being adapted for use as motors.

“The weight of the entire hydraulic installation is estimated at a quarter of the weight of the equivalent mechanism now used between the engine and the wheels. Russell believes that the total weight of his car need not exceed 2,000 lb. He also feels that the new design will lend itself to simplified servicing, with an engine assembly that can be taken out and replaced in less than an hour. An airplane-type multiple connector will fasten gasoline and electrical lines to the engine. Engines could be made available on a rental basis, as batteries now are, while the original one is rebuilt.

“From the viewpoint of the body designer, the hydraulic drive offers new freedom. The engine can be placed almost anywhere in the car, even at right angles to the chassis. There is no need to allow space for the transmission, drive shaft, or differential.

“As Russell sees it, unprecedented interior comfort will be possible, with full vision for the driver, who will be located somewhat farther forward than now, and with a larger windshield. He says that doors will be ‘man-sized,’ and that seats may be wide enough to accommodate four persons side by side. The luggage compartment will be under the shortened hood in front, and the engine will be in the rear, where noise, vibration, and fumes will be minimized.

“More recently, Russell has revealed a design for a small personal car for short trips. Known as the ‘Gadabout,’ it will have the same hydraulic drive as full-size models, but will be built with a welded-steel frame work that completely encircles the car to increase protection in case of crack-ups.

Wheels will be individually suspended, using an airplane-type mounting combining a coil spring and torsion bar. Present plans call for the ‘Gadabout’ to be powered by a light air-cooled two-cycle engine.

“Another idea in the back of Russell’s head is the special adaptability of the hydraulic drive to amphibian design. Since the only power-transmitting connections between the engine and the wheels are the hydraulic lines, it would be simple to run these lines through the hull with waterproof couplings and gaskets. Several amphibians are on Russell’s drawing board, adapted both for pleasure and for use by farmers and others.

“Still another place where the hydraulic drive might have special advantages is in the much-discussed ‘roadable airplane.’ Probably the plane best adapted to road use by the addition of hydraulic drive is the Spratt Controllable Wing, which has four wheels like an automobile and has approximately the same tread and wheel base. It would be comparatively simple to add a clutch that would disconnect the propeller for road use and cut in the hydraulic system. A plane installation would probably not require more than two oil pumps, which would give three forward speeds.

“The applications of hydraulic power have increased tremendously during the past few years. Automobile makers already use hydraulic power to raise and lower windows at the touch of a button and to raise and lower the tops of convertibles. They have also already completed designs for hydraulic cylinders that open or shut the hood and rear deck, and that move the driver’s seat forward or backward. Whether or not this versatile power-transmitting method is equally adaptable to driving the wheels of a car remains to be seen. Some technical critics retain a skepticism as to the efficiency of Russell’s drive, particularly in respect to internal friction. How well founded these doubts are can only be determined by carefully controlled tests, conducted over a period of time.”

Coincidentally Russell, who was a neighbor of Zora Arkus-Duntov, was also interested in  plastic automobile bodies and in 1941 had constructed his own using ethyl cellulose plastic over a wire mesh frame. Although his first attempt was not very pretty in 1952 he designed an attractive FRP (Fiberglas-reinforced plastic) roadster for the Detroit Accessories Co. of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, called The Detroiter, that was featured in the October 1953 issue of Motor Trend.  Interestingly it shared many styling  characteristics that would later appear on the 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

It follows that Charles T. Pearson was well-aware of Russell's hydraulic vehicles when he called Tucker for an appointment in early1945 and several days later drove out to Ypsilanti to see what he was up to. Tucker admitted he was developing his own car, but didn't supply any further details other than he would keep in touch and hoped to have something more definite within a few months.

In his 1960 book on Tucker,“The Indomitable Tin Goose”, Pearson does not mention if the subject of fluid power was discussed, although he provided a little insight into Tucker's Ypsilanti operations circa 1945:

“At the time he maintained offices in a large two-story building back of his home, with a small shop space on the ground floor, offices along one side and drafting rooms on the second floor.

“It was so crowded people were stumbling over each other. In a large metal building about a block away he had a lot of heavy machining equipment and a fairly large force turning out some kind of military equipment which, as was usual at the time, was very hush-hush.”

On Pearson's next visit to Ypsilanti several months later (approximately mid-1945), Tucker gave him considerably more information, showing him working drawings, sketches and an assortment of parts that later served as props in preliminary stages of his campaign to get backing. The assortment included cast aluminum suspension arms, blocks and heads of Miller engines and related parts.

Although Jimmy Sakuyama was likely already working on the big opposed engine that Tucker desired, the parts seen by Pearson were Indy car components that Tucker hoped would visualize the type of engineering that would be featured in his lightweight passenger car.

Confusingly, some of the sketches of the radical car seen by Pearson in Ypsilanti were not drawn by George S. Lawson, its designer, but were drawn by a commerical artist named *Josephine Chatham. Apparently Tucker was displeased with Lawsons' renderings and hired Chatham to“punch them up.”

(*It was Chatham's rendering of Lawson's design that accompanied Pearson's story in PIC and several of Tucker's early advertising campaigns. The illustration that Tucker is holding in his hand in the press photo to the right is one of Chatham’s renderings.)

Pearson's book doesn't mention if Tucker talked about hydraulic drive or fluid power during their second meeting so it's debatable whether Tucker came up with concept after reading about Ray Russell's hydrocar or if he was planning on using it beforehand. The Charles T. Pearson connection introduces a third possibility: perhaps it was Pearson who brought “*Flowing Power” to Tucker's attention.

(*The Hydraulic Drive / Flowing Power /Fluid Drive concept was the idealized simplification of getting power to the drive wheels using a large engine-driven pump that sends pressurized hydraulic fluid via hoses to hydraulic motors located in each of its drive wheels. It's main benefits being the elimination of the transmission, prop shaft, differential, or drive axles; and the resulting simplicity would greatly lower the cost and reliability.)

Regardless Tucker was certainly aware of  the concept's inherent cushioning effects which resulted in quite operation and smooth transitions as he had seen hydraulic gun turrets and landing gear during the War. Hydraulics were already being used to help steer large trucks and military vehicles, and would soon be steering (beginning in 1951-1952) several high-end offerings from Chrysler and Cadillac.

Although flowing power sounded great in theory, putting it into practice was another matter, and apparently Tucker thought himself capable. Whether Tucker's initial concept called for fluid drive or not, during late 1955 he began looking for financing, but quickly discovered that the only offers presented required  that he give up control of the company, which he was unwilling to do.

Tucker’s inital business partner and financial advisor was a  fast-talking ex-attorney named Abraham ‘Abe’ H. Karatz, who suggested he take a look at a large aircraft engine plant in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois that the War Assets Administration was having a hard time getting rid of. 

Charles T. Pearson, Tucker's friend, public relations man and biographer, met Karatz during one of his Ypsilanti visits, describing him as follows:

“I was immediately impressed with his intensity, his supreme confidence and his tremendous knowledge of people and places. Heavy but not fat, he had a quick smile and a deep penetrating voice that seemed to override doubts and problems by sheer volume. In time, after we became friends and he was ‘Abe,’ I learned his most serious weakness: his ambitions were always far ahead of his capabilities, and his thinking could have affected the entire Tucker operation. Always he was shooting for the one big deal that would run into millions, and I have repeatedly seen him pass up small deals in which he could pick up a few thousand because he wanted to pyramid them into a multimillion dollar promotion. In Tucker, he saw a man who could front the deals he could only dream about.

“Next to promotions, which were Abe's life, he loved to eat, and he seemed to be equipped with some kind of radar to find the finest eating places in any city. It was occasionally embarrassing. If he happened to be low on money at the time he might borrow twenty dollars or so, and then he would take you out to dinner and insist that you eat more, maybe at five dollars a plate, on your own money. Yet as far as I know he was completely honest, and in his work for Tucker and the corporation he was tireless, with endless patience, and completely loyal.

“There was one flaw in Karatz' record, which to us seemed small and unimportant: he had served time in Joliet for what the state charged was some kind of insurance fraud. He made no secret of it and Tucker considered it unimportant, though later Tucker's enemies seized on it as a weapon against him, charging that Tucker was a crook from the start because he was associated with Karatz.”

Karatz (b. 21 Mar. 21, 1890 in Odessa, Russia – d. Aug. 23, 1953 in Houston, Tx.) was a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who moved to Chicago in the 1920s. In the course of business Karatz became involved with several unsavory characters, the most notorious being Dave ‘long count’ Barry, a Chicago boxing referee who handed Gene Tunney a controversial decision over Jack Demsey in 1927.

Karatz was temporarily disbarred in 1925 after having been convicted of professional misconduct; and on June 21, 1935 was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Amalgamated Trust and Saving Bank of Chicago of $54,000 at which time he was sentenced to a term of from 1-5 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. Investigators discovered that the bank fraud was part of a much larger scheme whereby Karatz and his partners, Joseph Balata, Dave ‘long count’ Barry, Hayden Saunders and Gustav Lindquist hoped to raise $400,000 in order to gain control of the Abraham Lincoln Life Insurance Co., a well-respected firm with over $13 million in assets of which Lindquist was president and Saunders treasurer.

Karatz, who never denied his guilt in the scheme, exhausted his numerous appeals in 1937 and was officially disbarred by the State of Minnesota on March 4, 1938. He ended up serving three-and-one-half-years in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet and was released just before the start of the Second World War.

Tucker liked the expansive Chicago B-29 engine plant, which had a built-in railroad spur as well as its own steel and aluminum foundry, most of the infrastructure required to build a successful auto manufacturing enterprise. He also liked the outgoing Karatz and chose to overlook his history of prison and dirty financial dealings providing he could deliver investors.

During the previous year Tucker had made inquiries to several Detroit automobile men as to the availability of a capable automotive designer and several mentioned George S. Lawson, a furloughed Briggs designer who had formerly worked in the Buick studio at General Motors Art & Colour.

According to his 1949-1950 SEC trial testimony on October 6, 1949, Lawson first went to Tucker's home in June of 1944, shortly after Tucker returned from New Orleans. Lawson was shown a rough drawing of the automobile Tucker planned to produce, recalling that:

“... it was oval shaped like a potato bug, with wheels sticking out in the air. I told him I didn’t think it would win public acceptance.”

In an interview with historian Michael Lamm, the designer stated he never got an actual package* from Tucker although he knew it was to be a streamlined rear-engined car.

(*package refers to exact measurements such as the car’s wheelbase, exterior dimensions, drivetrain, etc.)

Lawson also recalled having trouble getting Tucker to commit to the details – such as exactly how large the engine was going to be and whether it would be mounted forward, aft, or centered above the rear axle.

At their first meeting in Ypsilanti, Lawson had brought along several renderings, one of which depicted a radical Buick he had designed before the War. Tucker liked it and appeared to be willing to consider whatever Lawson presented as his immediate need was for a saleable design – something striking and futuristic that would get investors interested in the project.

Lawson got to work and five weeks later had come up with a stunning proposal which incorporated the following designs cues; a one-piece windshield that wrapped around the cockpit, center-mounted steering, doors that extended into the roofline, skirted aerodynamic front fenders that pivoted with the front wheels and a center mounted headlight, one of the few features that made it to the final version of the car. Tucker liked what he saw and although he offered Lawson no cash for his efforts, he promised him a percentage in the syndicate being formed to produce the car and a proportion of the profits. 

Like his replacement, Alex S. Tremulis, Lawson was a former GM Art & Colour designer who had ended up at Briggs Mfg. Co. at the start of the Second World War. Tremulis held him in high regard and crediting Lawson with helping him develop his skill at working with ‘Prismacolor’ the brightly colored pastels that designers used to make their presentation sketches, stating:

“George taught us all everything we know about Prismacolor – the use of Prismacolor on black backgrounds.”

In October of 1945 Karatz and Tucker met with Floyd B. Cerf, a small Chicago banker and securities broker who agreed to go over the specifics of what was required to go public. Although he had formed several small firms in the past, Tucker appeared unaware of what was required to put together a stock company. At the partner’s first meeting with Cerf, Tucker simply showed the broker some of Lawson’s designs and stated: “I want to raise $20,000,000 to produce a car.” Cerf inquired as to whether they had built a prototype, or had made arrangements for a plant to manufacture it, to which a dumbfounded Tucker replied: “No.” Cerf explained to them: “We can't finance just an idea, we must have a plant, and an organization and the semblance of a product.” Undeterred, Tucker replied: “If that's what it takes, I'll go out and get it.”

Tucker subsequently dialed Charles T. Pearson - who was no longer working for United Press - and told him he was ready to furnish him with the specifics of his proposed car, which was now christened the “Tucker Torpedo.”  Pearson spent several weeks working on the article, which featured Josephine Chatham’s  beautiful rendering of Lawson’s concept, photos of a torque converter and an old Harry A. Miller cylinder block, whose ‘Miller’ logo had been replaced with the name ‘Tucker’, plus several line drawings drawn by Pearson and his friend Mike Such.

Tucker started the search for investors in Ypsilanti where he made a presentation at the local Masonic Lodge to a group of local investors and businessmen. He found few supporters and took his dog and pony show to the Detroit Athletic Club where he hoped to get some pillar of the auto industry interested in the project.

Although Tucker’s presentation was well-received, when it came time to talk brass tacks the scions of Detroit wanted Tucker to give up too much control, Pearson recalling that the presentation:

“…ended with an ‘oust Tucker’ movement before there was even a corporation. The main trouble with this meeting seemed to be that early promoters in the deal wanted too big a slice for their efforts, failing to realize that a lot of high-power promotion would still have to be done to get it off the ground. It finally ended in a squabble over percentages and Tucker walked out. It was about the only time I ever saw Tucker act out of character. He stood up, said ‘Good day, gentlemen,’ and walked out the door. He must have read the phrase in a book, or maybe heard it in a movie.”

Once completed, Pearson sold his Tucker article to PIC “the Magazine for Young Men” which at the time was the nation’s third most-popular picture tabloid (PIC's circulation was 500,000 - Life and Look’s were significantly larger) who scheduled it for their January, 1946 issue. To supplement the check from Pic, Pearson sold rewrites to various science and automotive magazines that wouldn’t jump Pic’s release date. Purely as an accommodation to Tucker, he also readied a press release for that would be sent to  the newspaper wire services when the Pic story hit the newsstands. Excerpts of  the article follow:

“The first super auto job to get off the drawing board into the production stage is being put together at Detroit… It is the Tucker Torpedo… rear-engined car… aimed to sell for around $1,000… The Tucker Torpedo is the first serious threat to the supremacy of established automobile manufacturers and… may make models now in production obsolete almost overnight. Preston Thomas Tucker, designer of the Torpedo… has a recognized place in automotive engineering… As an associate of the late Harry Miller, builder of world-famous racing cars, he had a part in the design of speed creations that won 14 out of 16 races on the Indianapolis oval.”

Pearson also implied that the Fisher Brothers were somehow involved in the project – a possibility as they were rich, members of the Detroit Athletic Club, and had recently retired from General Motors announcing they were forming 2 new firms - Fisher Bros., Inc. and Fisher Motor Car Co. - to produce airplanes and automobiles. Even at this early stage of the car's development, Tucker's associates began to learn that Tucker considered anything he said to be a fact - regardless of the reality, Pearson explains:

“So when I wrote ‘off the drawing board into the production stage’ high in the first paragraph I assumed, by the time the story was published some months later, that Tucker would have the castings and other stuff he said had been ordered. Many of the stories I was handling at the time followed the same pattern - as soon as they got parts and materials they were in business, and the situation was getting steadily better. When I finally realized there weren’t any castings or even patterns I was at first resentful, but later had to admit that, from Tucker’s standpoint, there was nothing either dishonest or immoral at the time in referring to something that was still on paper as fact. In the years that followed I learned that to the irrepressible Tucker, with his boundless optimism and self-confidence, anything he had decided to do was already a fact, for all practical purposes, and there was no point in complicating things with a lot of tiresome detail and explanations.”

In the months that followed, Tucker hired Pearson to help with the firm's press releases and publicity, and he was eventually offered a full-time job with the same caveat he offered many other early employees, Pearson recalling:

“He made me a good offer but laid it on the line: if he won, I would win, and if he lost I couldn’t expect to more than break even, if that. I like long shots myself, and further, I felt a personal obligation to do whatever I could to make a reality of the fantastically ambitious promotion that I had inadvertently launched.”

Tucker and Karatz were spurred on by the enthusiastic response (Tucker claimed he got 150,000 letters) and subsequently enlisted the help of Chicago Congressman Edward A. Kelly in obtaining a lease on the recently vacated Chicago B-29 engine plant. Jimmy Sakuyama and Dan Leabu had also commenced development of what would become the Tucker’s 589 engine in the former Tucker Aviation barn located behind his mother's house.

The January 1946 issue of PIC hit the newsstands the last week of December, 1945 and on December 30, 1945, the United Press newswire released the following story, which was based on Pearson’s press release:

“Inventor Unveils Model of Dream Car, ‘Torpedo’

“Detroit - (UP) - That dream car is just around the corner. Announcement of the Tucker Torpedo, a rear-engine automobile that sells for $1,000 and cruises at 200 miles an hour, has released at long last all the shrouded knowledge within the industry about plans for 1947.

“What is a rear-engine car? That’s the point that perplexes most of us who buy sham and shiny steel and trust that our revenue outlasts the Morris-Plan.

“It develops that a rear engine provides power directly from the motor to the rear wheels. This eliminates a clutch, the transmission, the drive shaft, the differential and the rear axle—or all those delicate, intermediary parts which are most vulnerable to wear and the most costly to repair.

“The saving in bulk and weight and inconvenience is a significant improvement, reducing overall poundage from the 3,500 class to nearer a 2,000 pound maximum.

“Preston Tucker, a Ypsilanti, Mich., engineer and co-designer of the noted Miller racing cars, has not disclosed who will build the model he has created. But at least he has a model in operation and it has stirred the curious ambitions of his colleagues in the highly-paid properties of mass output.

“Tucker asserts that his car can be built with two, four or six cylinders, with economy of operation enhanced by the lower quotient of power and performance advanced by the six-cylinder car.

“For one thing, the rear-engine model utilizes solid fuel injection, as contrasted with carburetor, and Tucker regards this principle alone as an engineering improvement sufficient to alter the whole automobile industry.

“The Torpedo (which seems wholly inadequate to describe this piece of futurama) claims several other practical advantages:

“1. Absence of transmission and rear end virtually eliminating service on these wearing parts; gas, electric and oil lines are joined by a single operation and disconnected by the same multiple connector.

“2. A 230-pound engine (two cylinders) producing 150 horsepower, or more per pound efficiency than produced by light airplane motors.

“3. Disk type brakes, proved by racing tests as 50 percent more efficient than traditional drumtype brakes.

“4. A radiator system which heats by winter and cools by summer.

“5. A motor connection that can be disjoined by taking out four small bolts; replacement in same simple manner.

“6. Reduction of wear by friction from idling efficiency of 100 revolutions per minute from top engine speed of about 2,400 rpm; normal wear is 3,800 to 5,000 rpm.

“7. Elimination of intricate machine tools now required in production of orthodox cars.

“Tucker himself expressed only one fear of his wonder product. Designed in cooperation with the late Harry Miller, whose cars won 14 out of 16 Indianapolis speedway championships, the Torpedo presents the problem of attaining excessive speeds easily and without stress. To safeguard against this peril to the ordinary motorist, Tucker has designed a step-set foot accelerator. This device, he says, acts as an automatic governor on speeds until the driver becomes accustomed to the high rates of motion available. Elimination of sound and vibration misleads the driver, encouraging more rapid travel than safety sometimes would recommend, the inventor believes.”

The January 6, 1946 edition of the Madison Wisconsin State Journal ‘Through the Windshield by Mac’ column specifically mentions that some of his information came from the PIC article:

“The Windshield, always impatient with the motoring public which talks a radical automobile but rarely buys one, sees hope for a real advancement in the Tucker Torpedo, 150-horsepower, 130-mile-per-hour rear-engined car, aimed to sell for around $1,000, described in the January issue of Pic magazine.

“Hinting the Fisher Brothers, previously builders of bodies for General Motors cars has something to do with the new Torpedo, Pic adds that Preston Tucker the designer is no screwball.

“‘As an associate of the late Harry Miller, builder of racing cars, Tucker had a part in design of speed creations that won 14 out of 16 Indianapolis races where Miller’s cars were entered. He was associated with Miller in designing the Cord, built the first power-operated gun turret for the army, and designed a gyroscopic gun stabilizer used on tanks and the first fire interrupter for airplanes.’

“Getting back to the Torpedo, the driver’s seat is in the center (another Indianapolis racing innovation), the windshield is a single piece of curved safety glass, and the doors open into the roof so you won’t scrape off your hat and lift up to clear curbs when parked.

“Tucker estimates gasoline consumption from 35 to 65 miles per gallon, depending on the octane rating of gasoline used. The car will weigh approximately 2,000 pounds, lighter than comparable cars, and will have a 126-inch wheelbase. The front tread is standard, the rear two inches wider for road stability.

“‘The engine will be available in two, four, or six-cylinder engine producing 1.5 horsepower per pound, better than airplane engines.’

“A hydraulic torque converter will transmit power directly from the engine to the rear wheels, eliminating approximately 70 per cent of the starting and stopping parts. The engine in the rear will eliminate noise and vibration.

“Another innovation, according to Pic, is front fenders that turn with the wheels, showing the driver where his wheels are pointed at all times. Driving lights mounted on the fenders will follow the curves in the road, while a fixed ‘Cyclops Eye’ center light directs a beam straight ahead.

“The article didn’t say when you can buy one.”

Tucker was disappointed at the response he had gotten from Detroit's venture capitalists and in late January of 1946 moved his startup's operations to Chicago, Illinois - where he hope to acquire the city's vacant B-29 engine plant.

The February 10, 1946 edition of the Detroit Free Press incorrectly attributed the Cord to Tucker in its announcement of the firm’s incorporation:

“Firm Seeks Giant Plant for Revolutionary Auto

“Plans to produce a revolutionary automobile in the former Chrysler engine plant in Chicago were announced by a new corporation headed by Preston Tucker of Ypsilanti, designer of the front-drive Cord automobile.

“Tucker made a public list of veteran Detroit automobile men who will be associated with him. They include Ray Rausch, former director and assistant to the vice-president in charge of manufacture for the Ford Motor Co.

“Tucker is a former associated of Harry Miller, the Indianapolis builder of Miller racers. HE built racers from 1928 until the war.

“He also worked for Cadillac, Ford and Studebaker. He holds patents on power-operated machine-gun turrets used in Army planes and tanks.

“Tucker said negotiations with the Reconstruction Finance Corp. for the $200,000,000 Chicago plant were underway. He said his company would start producing cars six months after it got possession of the plant.

“The new car will be known as the Tucker Torpedo. It will have the engine in the rear and will sell in the $1,000 to $1,300 class.

“It will have a six-cylinder, 150-horspower engine of Tucker’s design.

“H.F. Costello, of Detroit, will be sales manager of the new company. He has been with the Easy Washing Machine Corp. for 18 years.

“Joseph D. Burke, of Detroit and West Palm Beach, Fla., will be vice president in charge of sales. He has been with the Packard, Graham-Paige, Dodge and Chrysler and for the last two years with the Army Engineering Corps.

“Joseph H. Bush, of Detroit, will be superintendent. He is a former superintendent of the Kansas City and St. Louis Ford assembly plants.

“Maj. Mark J. Mourne, of LaGrange Ill., is secretary. He is a member of a Chicago law firm.

“Eugene L. Reason, of Detroit, will be vice president in charge of purchasing. He was in charge of purchasing for Chrysler until last year.

“George S. Lawson, of Detroit, will be director of style, art and color. He is formerly of General Motors, where he handled body styling for eight years.

“While the Torpedo was designed to be driven from the center of the front seat, first models will have the conventional left-hand drive because of legal restrictions in some states.

“The car will be capable of 130 miles an hour, Tucker said. Front fenders and headlights will turn with the wheels.”

In a February 11, 1946 follow-up to their December 30, 1945 article, the Associated Press also included the name of one other Tucker associate - Lyle D. Middleton - and states he had nearly completed acquiring the former Dodge-Chicago plant from the War Assets Administration:

“Torpedo Car Will Be Made in Chicago

“Detroit, Feb. 11. - (UP) - A group of automobile executives pushed plans today for production of the radically-different Tucker torpedo car in the $300,000,000 Dodge airplane engine plant at Chicago.

“Preston Tucker, designer of the unique vehicle, announced that negotiations were virtually complete with the War Assets Corporation for use of the massive Chicago plant.

“Tucker said production of the new lightweight, rear-engine car, slated to sell for between $1,000 and $1,300, will begin within six months after occupancy of the plant is obtained.

“Officials of the company, whose capitalization was not disclosed include: Ray Rausch, vice president in charge of manufacturing. Rausch was with Ford Motor Company 24 years and was in charge of all Ford wartime manufacturing except Willow Run. Joseph D. Burke, sales. Burke is a Detroit veteran who has worked with six Detroit manufacturers. George S. Lawson, in charge of style and color, was with General Motors for eight years. Lyle D. Middleton, chief master mechanic, was with Ford from 1919 to last year. Maj. Mark J. Mourne, La Grange, Ill., is secretary, Tucker said. Tucker, who was associated with Harry Miller, racing car maker, from 1925 to 1941, said the new car, to be built principally of aluminum, embodies much of racing car design. He emphasized, however, that it was not a racing vehicle, though designed to reach speeds of 130 miles an hour.”

The article gives Lawson’s title as ‘in charge of style and color’ but fails to mention a chief engineer – an unnecessary position as Tucker apparently believed he was quite capable of handling the engineering himself.

In his October 24, 1949 testimony at the Tucker Corp. trial, attorney Mark J. Mourne recalled he was “surprised as anything” when his first cousin Preston offered him a $1,500 a month job. In fact, his relations with Tucker were “very distant” prior to the December, 1945 phone call in which Tucker discussed the job offer. Mourne was even more suprised when he looked through the January 1946 issue of PIC and discovered he was already listed as the firm’s secretary.

Tucker's first head of production, Raymond R. Rausch (b. Mar. 4, 1894 - d. May 20, 1961), started in the automobile industry in 1909 with Timken-Detroit Axle Co. In 1919 he went to the Lincoln Motor Co. and became associated with the engineering division of the Ford Motor Co., eventually serving as president of the Henry Ford Trade school, general superintendent of Ford's Rouge Plant, and after Charles E. Sorensen’s 1944 resignation, Ford’s vice-president of production. He resigned in October of 1945 to go with Tucker. 

Joseph D. Burke (b. May 8, 1893 – d. July 25, 1959) joined Packard Motor Co. in 1917, and during the First World War saw service overseas as a first lieutenant in the Motor Transport Corps. In late 1918 he became associated with the Gray Motor Co. as purchasing agent, rejoining Packard as a salesman in 1920. In 1923 Burke joined Graham Brothers in charge of national fleet sales, and in 1928 was appointed assistant sale mgr. of the Fargo Motor Corp., Chrysler Corp.’s new truck division. By 1935 Burke had taken over as director of truck sales for the Dodge div. of Chrysler Corp. and in Sept. 1939 joined Federal Truck Corp. as vice president of sales. In 1940 he joined Pontiac as district sales manager at San Antonio, Texas. In 1942 Burke joined the All Metal Products Co. of Wyandotte Michigan on war work and in January, 1946 he joined Tucker as vice president of sales.

Eugene L. Reason, (b. May 10, 1888 - d. Dec. 6, 1970) had started his automotive career with the Briscoe Mfg. Co.’s purchasing dept. Following Chrysler's acquistion of Maxwell, Reason made his way through the Chrysler Corp. ranks, eventually becoming general purchasing agent for all of Chrysler Corp., a position he resigned effective Dec. 31, 1945 in order to join Tucker.

Pearson’s PIC article had served its purpose and had gotten people talking about the Torpedo, and numerous inquiries followed such as ‘When can I buy a Tucker?’, ‘How can I get a dealership?’ and ‘Is there any stock for sale?’

The Associated Press distributed a wirephoto of Lawson’s latest rendering of the proposed Tucker Torpedo on February 13, 1946 with the following caption:

“This is a drawing of the Tucker Torpedo, named for Preston Tucker, automotive engineer and official of a company planning to manufacture the new type automobile within six months after getting possession of the former Dodge engine plant in Chicago. The six-cylinder 150 horsepower engine rests on the rear axle. Note the placement of the steering apparatus.”

The February 17, 1946 issue of Automotive News announced the official formation of the firm to the trade:

“Company Formed to Build Tucker Torpedo Car

“Ray Rausch, former vice president in charge of production for Ford Motor Co., and several other men prominent in the automobile industry have associated with Preston Tucker, inventor of the Tucker Torpedo car, in formation of a new company which will build the automobile.

“Officers of the new enterprise, named the Tucker Corporation, are: President, Preston Tucker; vice president in charge of production, Ray Rausch; vice president in charge of sales, Joseph D. Burke, formerly a sales executive with Chrysler, Dodge, Packard and Hudson; vice president in charge of Purchasing, Eugene L. Reason, ex-purchasing agent for Chrysler; general sales manager, H.F. Costello, formerly with Easy Washing Machine Co.; Director of Styling, George S. Lawson, former G.M. designer; superintendent, Joseph H. Bush, former superintendent of Ford assembly plants in St. Louis and Kansas City; and secretary, Maj. Mark J. Mourne, of a Chicago law firm.

“Officials of the company said recently in a press conference in Detroit that production could get underway within six months after the firm takes over the Dodge Chicago plant. The Tucker is described as a rear engine drive car, powered by a six-cylinder 150-hp engine. A company spokesman says the car probably will sell in the $1000-$1300 price range.”

Even though he now had a handful of experienced auto executives onboard, Tucker was still having trouble getting start-up money so the partners (Tucker and Karatz) came up with a new financing scheme – selling franchises to many of the car dealers that had expressed an interest in the firm after the article in PIC came out. Tucker would grant them exclusive franchises in return for a franchise fee, a portion of which would be returned to them once the company got up and running. Although the scheme brought in $372,000, it also attracted the attention of Thomas B. Hart, regional administrator of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ultimately Tucker and Karatz were forced to return the money as the SEC considered it to be an “unauthorized sale of securities.”

As the Dodge-Chicago plant was now involved, several local Chicago papers began covering  Tucker's business activities in greater detail; one example being the following article that appeared in the February 13, 1946 Southtown Economist, a Chicago bi-weekly located in the suburb of Englewood:

“Declares He Needs All of Big Factory

“Car Designer's Spokesmen Say He's Ready to Move in Immediately If Government Accepts Offer.

“Chicago spokesmen for Preston Tucker of Ypsilanti, Mich., designer of a new style automobile called the Tucker Torpedo, said today that Tucker has applied to the War Assets corporation for the entire 6,500,000 square feet of manufacturing space of the now idle Dodge-Chicago plant, 7401 Cicero ave., for production of the car.

“While negotiations aiming toward lease of the plant are being carried on, Chicago representatives of the Tucker corporation are making their headquarters in the Blackstone Hotel. The Tucker spokesmen said that the corporation is making preparations to move into the plant as soon as the Reconstruction Finance corporation agency gives its approval. The representatives also said that all the machinery now in the plant is included in the application for the lease.

“Another Firm Wants It.

“Last month, Robert Zwikel, 33 N. La Salle St., head of the Chicago Industrial Districts, a property management concern, announced that he was negotiating for lease of the plant for 26 comparatively small manufacturers.

“At that time Tucker was conferring with New York financiers and was expected to make a bid for manufacturing space in the Dodge-Chicago plant with the Industrial Districts firm.

“Mr. Zwikel said that the bid of the Tucker corporation for leasing the entire plant has not interfered with the negotiations between the Industrial Districts firm and the RFC. He indicated that his firm is going ahead with plans to lease the plant and its facilities in units of 50,000 square feet to small manufacturers.

“Competitive Bidding

“RFC spokesmen said that the plant, the same as all government property, was advertised for competitive bidding and that the lease would be awarded on the basis of the amount of the bid and the use to which the plant would be put. Assembling of the new Tucker car will start within six months if the RFC approves the Tucker corporation bid, the Tucker representative said.

“The Tucker auto is of racing car design and is expected to sell for between $1,000 and $1,300. The car will have a 150-horsepower motor in the rear and, according to Mr. Tucker, will be capable of a speed of 130 miles an hour. The president of the auto firm said that the production of the car will employ from 25,000 to 30,000 persons and he expects to manufacture 1,000 a day.

“He announced that the vice-president of the firm in charge of manufacturing will be Ray Rausch who has been associated with the Ford Motor company for 24 years.”

On February 16, 1946 Tucker invited Chicago politicians and business leaders to a presentation at Chicago's historic Blackstone Hotel (636 S. Michigan Ave.) where he disclosed details of the car and outlined his ambitious plans for the former Albert Kahn-designed Dodge-Chicago B-29 engine plant in Chicago's Westlawn community. The event was covered by the Chicago Tribune's Philip Hampson in the following day’s edition of the paper:

“Tucker Plans To Make 1,000 Autos Per Day

“Gives More Details of New Car

“by Philip Hampson

“Preston Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, yesterday disclosed to Chicago civic leaders and others at a meeting in the Blackstone Hotel his company's plans to build automobiles in the Dodge-Chicago war time aviation engine plant.

“Financial details are expected to be announced in about two weeks. Tucker explained that completion of the leasing arrangements with the War Assets corporation for use of the plant and the financing are tied up in one package. When details are completed both are to become effective simultaneously.

“Would Need 25,000 Workers

“‘We plan production of 1,000 cars a day,’ he said. ‘This will require 25,000 workers and will create a new 75 million dollar annual pay roll for Chicago. Our automobile production line will be the largest in the world under one roof.

“‘The Dodge-Chicago plant was laid out ideally for automobile production. And the fact that it was an engine plant during the war gives us ideal conditions for building our own engines.

“‘Several plants in the Chicago area are in a position to build the car bodies and we are making arrangements with suppliers for the various parts we will need.’

“Says Labor Market Is Good

“‘We found the housing situation for workers in the plant area to be good. Chicago's labor market is excellent.

“Tucker gave more details on the new rear engined car, which will be called the Tucker Torpedo. Its six cylinder engine will develop 150 horsepower and will run 35 miles to the gallon at 40 miles an hour. It will have a solid fuel injector of the type used in aviation engines instead of a carburetor. The engine will be liquid cooled. The radiator will be in the front and will be fed thru steel tubing in the car body.

“Tucker, long associated with the late Harry Miller, racing automobile engine designer, said the new car will incorporate safety items developed on the Indianapolis speedway. He said it will have from one to two times the safety factor in a collision as present cars.

“The engine will be attached to a disconnection plug, similar to that used In aircraft, so that it can be removed for repairs in less than 30 minutes.”

On March 2, 1946 United Press reported that Chrysler Corp. had surrendered the $174 million plant to the Reconstruction Finance Corp.:

“Big Dodge Plant Returned to RFC

“Detroit, March 2 - (U.P.) - Chrysler Corporation announced today it had turned over to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation the $174,000,000 Dodge Chicago plant. The enormous factory, largest aircraft engine plant in the United States, has been the focus of months-long negotiations by backers of the radically-new Tucker Torpedo automobile. Preston Tucker, designer of the new car, announced Feb. 9 that his vehicle will be built in the plant and that negotiations to obtain it were underway with the war assets corporation.”

It's interesting to note that most of the executives Tucker's syndicate had started off the year with (Raymond R. Rausch, Joseph D. Burke, Lyle D. Middleton, and Mark J. Mourne), were no longer involved with the project on March 1st, 1946. Rausch quickly realized how unorganized and underfunded the operation was and he bailed in February. He was not out of work long and in July of 1947 took a position as a manufacturing consultant with General Electric Co., later becoming a G.E. vice president. In September of 1950 Rausch  became associated with Willys Overland Motors, Inc. as superintendent of production, and from 1953 until his retirement in 1955 served as executive vice-president of Willys Motors, Inc.

Joseph D. Burke, Tucker's vice-president of sales left soon after Rausch and within the year had been named as sales manager and a director of the Oltman-O'Neill Co., Detroit, manufacturer of the Packette line of all-steel route delivery trucks for Chevrolet and Dodge chassis. Eugene L. Reason, Tucker’s vice-president of purchasing, joined the mass exodus of Tucker executives at the end of February and on May 1, 1946 commenced working for Henry J. Kaiser as consultant to Kaiser Corp.’s director of purchases at the firm’s Willow Run plant.

Effective March 1, 1946, Tucker's all-new executive lineup consisted of industry veterans Hanson Ames Brown, Fred L. Rockelman, Robert Pierce and Robert K. Jack who had a combined 150 years of experience in the industry. They also shared several other traits, they were all nearing retirement age and were looking for a job.

Born in 1889 at Pierceton, Indiana, to Thomas J. and Mary E. (Brubaker) Brown, Hanson Ames Brown (H.A. Brown) was educated in the Indiana public schools followed by a course of study in accounting at a business college. In 1908 he entered the business world as an accountant for the Harsh Miller Mfg. Co., a saddlery manufacturer located at Wabash, Indiana and in 1910 entered the automotive field as a branch accountant for the Studebaker Corporation. One year later Brown accepted a position with the Oliver Chilled Plough Works, and in 1913 went to work for F.R. Mitchel Co., a distributor of Chalmers automobiles located in Toledo, Ohio. Shortly thereafter he became associated with the Chalmers Motor Car Co., in Detroit, eventually becoming head of its accounting dept.  In 1919 he accepted a position as assistant comptroller at General Motors Corp.’s Detroit offices and in 1925 was promoted to the post of comptroller of General Motors Corporation of Canada, Ltd. and in 1927 was elected Vice President and general manager. In 1936 Brown resigned, moving to San Francisco, California to head the Brown Chevrolet Co., 7th & Harrison Sts., Northern California’s Chevrolet distributor. In 1940 Brown entered the War effort as assistant to the works manager of Lockheed Corp., and in 1943 hlpe with the merger of Lockheed and its former Vega Aircraft subsidiary. In 1945 Brown became executive vice president of Edo Aircraft Company, and in early 1946 signed on as executive vice-president of the newly-formed Tucker Corp.

Rockelman was the best-known of the bunch and had a long and distinguished career with the Ford Motor Co. He was one of Henry Ford's first 25 employees, joining the firm in1903 at the firm's Mack Ave. factory. He started off as an inspector and his leadership qualities subsequently gave him a position as assistant manager of Ford's Buffalo factory branch in 1909. In 1916 he went to Seattle, Washington as factory branch manager and in 1919 moved to Indianapolis to take charge of Ford's new assembly plant there. In 1922 he became general manager and vice-president of the Ford-owned Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad, and in 1927 was appointed sales manager of Ford Motor Co.'s entire American and export operations. Rockelman left Ford in 1930 to become president of Chrysler’s Plymouth division, and in 1932 left to became sales manager of the Continental Automobile Co., the short-lived automobile manufacturing subsidiary of Continental Motors Corp. When that venture failed he became a free-lance manufacturing consultant and in 1940 joined the war effort as the Detroit auto industry laison for the Douglas Aircraft Corp. In 1944 he took a job with Empire Ordinance Co., a Douglas subcontractor. Pearson described Rockelman as follows:

“Portly and impressive in appearance, he had an open German face that radiated honesty, and a cultivated informality which put newcomers immediately at ease. He was a big man who, easily and informally, called important visitors by their first names shortly after they were introduced. And he was unquestionably a big man in the industry and around Detroit.”

In 1966 Fred L. Rockelman recalled how he came to work with Preston T. Tucker:

“In the spring of 1946 I was at the Detroit Athletic Club where all of the automobile men gathered - the old-timers, the newcomers, the experts and the novices, but all automobile men. It was here that I was approached by Robert Pierce who was the former treasurer and comptroller of Briggs Body Co. I had known him for years and so it was quite natural for him to discuss with me anything in the nature of new and radical ideas. He had read about a new car that Preston Tucker was sponsoring and he was tremendously impressed with the basic car but he did recognize that certain mechanical problems would arise. He had contacted me with a proposal that I join up with Preston Tucker in this venture for he thought this would be ‘right up my alley’.

“Since I was interested, he set up a meeting with Preston Tucker, himself, and me. It was at this meeting that Tucker outlined his proposed rear-engined car with an improved automatic transmission, much more improved over earlier models of automatic transmissions. I was tremendously impressed with Tucker’s ‘sales pitch’, but I must confess that I knew very little about automatic transmissions. I did feel that these transmissions were not too practical because of their great friction losses. Since this was an entirely new field, I was open to a ‘proposition’ for I had great confidence in engineering skills being developed in the automobile industry. I felt that there was a strong possibility that Preston Tucker had succeeded in lining up a new engineering idea which would cause a ‘break-through’ in this area. This was my first meeting with Preston Tucker who later proved to be a modern day ‘Pied Piper of Hamlin’.

“Within about two weeks I agreed to go with the Tucker company for an idea is no good unless you carry it out. To carry the idea out, Tucker had been negotiating for a plant in which to make this new car. This plant was an old motor plant in Chicago, a former war engine plant having several million square feet of manufacturing space, but currently tied up in Governmental ownership.

“Preston Tucker had to have a plant before he could float stock necessary to furnish capital for the company. He had the drawings of his new car so he had something to start with. Through his Washington connections he was able to get this plant, for the Government was most anxious to get rid of these surplus pieces of war property and with the promise of a possible new automobile to help fill the vacuum of war created shortages, this was what the Government was looking for.”

Born in England in 1895, Robert Pierce, Tucker Corp.'s new secretary-treasurer, was a peppery little red-headed Scot who after becoming a chartered public accountant emigrated to the United States in 1921 where he went to work as a certified public accountant. In 1924 he went to work with Price, Waterhouse & Co., Detroit, Michigan, Certified Public Accountants and in 1929 took a position with the Briggs Manufacturing Co. In May of 1930 Pierce was elected Briggs’ secretary and following William F. Connoly’s 1933 resignation, became Briggs’ secretary and treasurer at which time he took a position on the firm’s board of directors.

Pierce was also a director of Briggs Bodies, Ltd., the firm’s British subsidiary, and had a major part in organizing and operating what was at the time the largest body plant located outside of North America. He was also a director in several automotive suppliers (including Haskelite) and was a director of the Guardian Depositor’s Corporation, liquidating corporation for the Guardian Bank of Detroit.

In February of 1942 Pierce resigned from Briggs so that Walter O. Briggs, Jr., son of the founder and board chairman, could succeed him as Briggs’ treasurer. During his time at Briggs he received a salary ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 per year, and upon his resignation was given a $20,000 lump sum as severance. Pierce was present at the Detroit Athletic Club when Preston Tucker announced he was building a car and acording to Charles T. Pearson was Tucker's first financial supporter:

“Pierce helped break up that first meeting when he pulled out a checkbook and suggested that everybody ante $5,000 to get things started. Some of the people who were yelling the loudest about percentages couldn't match the $5,000.”

Like Pierce, Tucker's chief engineer Robert K. Jack was a Scotsman, and a longtime industry veteran. Born July 10, 1887, he was technically educated at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, and in 1902 went to work for the Hosier Engineering Co. Ltd., Bridgeton, Glasgow as an apprentice. In 1906 the firm moved to the Glasgow suburb of Alexandria and was reorganized as Argyll Motors, Ltd. Jack is partially responsible for the design and engineering of the 15/30hp sleeve-valve Argyll that established several world records at Brooklands.

In 1911 Jack emigrated to the United States where he took an engineering position with Alco, the automobile division of the American Locomotive Co. He subsequently joined the Cadillac Motor Co. as assistant to chief engineer, D. McCall White, the same man that would later tutor an energetic youngster named Preston Tucker.

In the buildup to the First World War Jack designed the armored cars built for the Canadian expeditionary forces, later joining the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Co at Nutley, N. J., where, as chief engineer, he designed their 12-cylinder aero engine.

In late 1916 he temporarily returned to Scotland to become works manager of the Aero-Johnson Co., another builder of aero-engines, and at the conclusion of hostilities he returned to the United States to take a job as chief engineer of the Olds Motor Works, Lansing, Michigan where he is credited with the design of the firm’s famous Model 47, 234 8-cylinder all-aluminum engine, which debuted in 1921.

In 1928 he left Oldsmobile to open up his own engineering consultancy, which was located in Lansing’s Tussing Building, and in 1931 Jack accepted a short-lived position as chief engineer of Lansing’s Durant Motor Corp. When that firm failed Jack returned to consulting work and in 1934 designed a hydraulic transmission, US Pat. No. 2,030,299. In 1939 he became chief engineer of the Reo Motor Car Co., and when the War started accepted an engineering position with Pratt & Whitney. (Following his resignation from Tucker, Robert K. Jack went to work for Divco as chief engineer, retiring in 1953.)

Despite having little in the way of finances, the July 4, 1946 edition of the Chicago  Tribune reported that Tucker Corp. had been successful in getting a 5-year lease on the disused B-29 engine plant providing he raise $15 million in capital by March 1, 1947:

“Tucker Leases Dodge-Chicago Plant 5 Years; Plans Auto Output Early in 1947

“The War Assets Administration yesterday leased the 170 million dollar Dodge-Chicago war plant to Tucker corporation, a recently-founded business organized to manufacture a new type, low-priced car. The transaction was announced In Washington, D. C., by the WAA and Preston Tucker, president of the corporation.

“After the papers were signed Tucker disclosed at a press conference he planned to start production on a four-door lightweight sedan early next year and will turn out 1,500 cars a day when maximum output is reached. He said he has been assured adequate, supplies of steel, aluminum, textiles and parts, and hopes to provide employment for 35,000 persons.

“Includes Purchase Option

“The transaction, reported earlier in the day by Rep. Kelly (D., Ill.) provides for a five-year lease with two options. The first permits a five-year renewal on expiration of the first period. The second allows the corporation to purchase the plant for 30 million dollars within 4½ years.

“Rent for the plant, said to be the largest facility in the world, will be $600,000 the first year, $800,000 the second year, and $2,400,000 annually for the next three years. Financing details were not disclosed.

“The plant includes 84 acres under roof and is considered suitable for automobile production because it was used for manufacture of aviation engines to power B-29 Superfortresses in the war period. The facility was operated by the Chrysler corporation which turned the plant back to the government several months ago.

“Rear End Engine, 4 Wheel Drive

“The new car is to be called the Torpedo and differs substantially from present conventional models. Its principal departure from the conventional is a 150 horse power, rear-end engine which imparts power directly to all four wheels instead of two.

“It also will have a liquid coupling device similar to the fluid drive of the Chrysler line and the Hydramatic drive of the Oldsmobile and Cadillac. This eliminates the transmission, drive shaft, and differential, saving 600 to 800 pounds in weight. With a body of aluminum and an engine largely of this metal, the over-all weight will be about 2,000 pounds, about 1,000 pounds lighter than comparable models.

“The car will be streamlined and will have a top speed of 130 miles an hour. It will sell at retail from $1,000 to $1,300, Tucker said.

“Tucker, 42, also heads the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool company which does milling and machining of metals for other companies.

“Built Airplane Turrets

“In the war period he designed and built power operated turrets for tanks and airplanes and produced a fire control interrupter.

“With Tucker in the new venture are several men with long experience in automobile production. These include *Ames E. Brown, vice president and assistant to the president, formerly president and general manager of the Canadian division of General Motors of Canada, Ltd.; Fred Rockelman, vice president and sales director, head of Plymouth division of Chrysler corporation and one time Ford official; Robert Pierce, vice president and treasurer, formerly secretary-treasurer of Briggs Manufacturing company, body builder, and Robert Jack, chief engineer, formerly chief engineer of the Oldsmobile division of General Motors corporation.”

(*should be Hanson Ames Brown)

Details of Tucker's updated production schedule were released in a July 4th, 1946, press release, which was detailed in the following day's Chicago Tribune reporting:

“Tucker Gives More Details of Auto Plans

“Busy on Inventory of Vast Plant

“Tucker corporation will complete inventories at the big Dodge-Chicago war plant in September and begin production of the new low priced Torpedo automobile six to eight months later, Preston Tucker, president, said yesterday. He will operate the 170 million dollar plant under five year lease from the War Assets Administration, with option to purchase for 30 million dollars within 4 ½ years.

“‘Our men have been in the plant for the last two months working on the inventory,’ said Tucker. ‘We received the plant virtually intact. Chrysler took out only about 50 of the 18,000 pieces of machinery in the place.’

“Estimate on Production

“Ten million dollars will cover the cost of new tools and machinery necessary to carry the plant to its first production goal of 200 cars a day, said Tucker.

“‘We hope to achieve a daily rate of 200 cars by the end of the first month, 300 by the end of the second, and 500 by the end of the third,’ he said.

“The corporation will not engage in any new financing immediately, but may market a preferred stock issue ‘after we have made a few cars,’ Tucker commented. He said he had received more than 60,000 applications for dealer franchises, many from war veterans, but that none would be granted until the company is closer to production.

“‘Chicago is a better place for automobile manufacturing than Detroit,’ he told a reporter. ‘Steel costs $2 a ton less and shipping charges east, west or south are $18 less per car.’

“Goal Is 1,500 Daily

“Tucker expects eventually to produce 1,500 of his aluminum bodied engine-aft Torpedo cars every day. At that rate the plant would turn out more automobiles in three weeks than it did aircraft engines in the entire war.

“The plant is said to be the largest manufacturing facility in the world and has more floor space than the Willow Run plant in Detroit. Construction began in 1942. The first aircraft engine was produced there in January, 1944.”

The release preceded Tucker Corporation's official July 8, 1946 organization as a Delaware Corporation “for the purpose of developing, producing, distributing and selling automobiles.” The records of the Secretary of State, Dover, Delaware, reveal that the Tucker Corporation was incorporated in Delaware on July 8, 1946. Papers were filed through the Corporate Trust Company, 110 W. 10th Street, Wilmington, which acts as an agent for many out-of-state corporations. The incorporators were Messrs. T.S. Peabbles, S.M. Brown, and W.K. Webb, all of Wilmington. The corporation had an authorized capital of 1,000,000 shares, at a par value of $1.00 each. The records list no officers, Tucker stating that information would be furnished when the company filed its first annual report.

Fred L. Rockelman recalled how Tucker Corp. was able to raise $8 million - half in cash,  half in 1-year promissary notes - through the sale of distributorships:

“The minute Preston Tucker was able to obtain a letter of intent to sell (July 5, 1946), I was authorized to open offices in Chicago. Preston Tucker had chartered a plane in Detroit to bring Robert Pierce, Tucker, and me to Washington for this purpose and he had this plane standing by to fly me back to Chicago. This was the way Preston Tucker did business. When he was ‘wheeling and dealing’, don't spare the dollars.

“Tucker’s idea to raise money was to sell dealerships for his new car. In the past, this had been tried but never on so lavish a scale as in that of the Tucker automobile. $8 million was raised in this manner, half of this in cash and half in one-year notes. Setting up dealerships was my first job. We were successful in this part of the operation. A sales structure was built which would blanket the United States and even include a substantial export business. This was not as difficult to do as one would imagine, for you must realize that we had everything in our favor. We had a radically designed car which captured the fancy of the public beyond belief. We had a ‘buyers’ market ahead of us with a perfectly fantastic demand for automobiles, particularly if they were different from pre-World War II models. In fact, the demand for these cars was so heavy that we had to hire a private company just to answer individual pieces of correspondence from prospective and anxious future buyers.

“Back to the distributorships for a moment. Each distributor was required to sign a contract with the Tucker company. This contract was one which I put together borrowing the best of many features of other company dealership contracts and adding a few ideas of my own with the result that I had a real ‘gem’ of a contract.”

The Chicago Tribune's Frank Sturdy provided an overview of the Torpedo's specifications and Tucker's updated production plans in the July 28, 1946 edition of the newspaper:

“Tucker Torpedo Offers New Design in Modern Motoring by Frank Sturdy

“The automobile Preston Tucker plans to build in the aircraft engine plant at 7401 S. Cicero av., recently leased from the government, is totally different, aside from the fact that it has four wheels, from the cars American motorists now are driving.

“Tucker soon will build a mock-up of a wooden model of the car in his Ypsilanti tool plant. He plans to build 15 working pilot models for testing, and for developing production procedures, in the Cicero av. plant, into which he expects to move in September or October.

“Will Call Car Torpedo

“Specifications of the car, to be called the Torpedo:

“Engine - 150 horsepower, weighing 250 pounds. Six cylinders, horizontally opposed, in the style of a light aircraft engine. Block and head a single aluminum casting, with cylinder walls of fused bronze with the same expansion rate as the aluminum pistons. Cooled with a sealed, liquid system requiring no attention winter or summer. Liquid used will be ethylene-glycol, the same coolant utilized In liquid cooled aircraft engines.

“Low pressure, fuel Injection to cylinders instead of conventional carburetion, also a common practice In aircraft engines to produce smooth power and equal fuel distribution to all cylinders. Tucker predicts 35 miles to the gallon of gasoline at moderate driving speeds. The engine will be mounted in the rear.

“All Wheels Independent

“Suspension - All four wheels independently sprung. Tucker maintains that with this system, and the change in weight distribution secured by mounting the engine in the rear, means better control and riding qualities.

“Brakes - Disc type, with a single steel disc between two friction sur faces, a style used in racing automobiles and in aircraft. Offer more braking area than drum type brakes.

“Body - Fenders turn with the wheels. Lights are mounted in the fenders, and consequently beam in the direction the car is moving, rather than angling to one side as in conventional cars on curves. Top is one piece steel construction, Driver's compartment has a steel crash-panel lined with a two inch layer of sponge rubber for safety.

“Door tops virtually meet in the rooftop, so that when opened, passengers can get in and out without stooping. Doors swing up at bottom when they are opened to clear curbs when the car is parked.

“Luggage In Front

“The front end is short, giving clear forward vision, and contains a luggage compartment. There will be a second luggage space in the rear, over the engine.

“Although acknowledging such speeds are not practical on present high ways, Tucker is designing his car for a cruising speed of 100 miles an hour, suitable for cruising speeds on future expressways.

“Controls - Throttle and foot brake as conventional transmission gears will be absent. Instrument panel mounted on the steering post, in plain sight of the driver.

“The engine will be mounted cross-wise, with what Tucker describes as a hydraulic-drive system transmitting power to the wheels. A short, hydraulically driven shaft will connect the engine crank-shaft at each end to the wheels, one on either side.

“Transmission, drive-shaft, and differential of the standard design will thus be eliminated, at a weight saving estimated by Tucker at 800 pounds. Working parts will be reduced in the same way by about 800.

“Fenders of Steel

“Weighing one-third less than comparable conventional cars, the Torpedo will have aluminum door panels. The frame and body will be designed as an integral unit, constructed of welded steel tubing for strength and lightness. Fenders will be steel.

“Tucker's plans include mounting of the power plant as a unit, connected to the car by four bolts. Any competent mechanic, he predicts, will be able to remove the engine and replace it in 15 minutes with one serviced or rebuilt at the factory. Fuel, oil, hydraulic lines, electrical wires, and the foot throttle connections will be of aircraft type that can be unfastened with a single operation.”

As Lawson's initial design for the Torpedo had been seen in numerous magazines and newspapers, Tucker had him prepare 1/8-scale orthographic drawings of Tucker’s two favorite proposals. Lawson transferred them to a double-sided ¼-scale plaster three-dimensional model of the car (good modeling clay was unavailable so Lawson covered the wood armature with plaster, an acceptable alternative at the time.) One proposal was sculpted on the driver’s half of the car, the second on the passenger’s half. Amazingly the plaster model Lawson created survived and can be seen at the Peterson Automobile Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Tucker's publicity men put together an illustrated ‘Torpedo Auto’ comic book story featuring Lawson’s Torpedo that was published in Charlton Comic Group’s ‘Marvels of Science No.3’, pp39-42 during 1946.

An artist’s rendering of Lawson’s plaster model made its first appearance accompanying the following John Shea-penned NEA (Scripps-owned Newspaper Enterprise Association) article which appeared in many of the nation’s newspapers on August 8, 1946:

“Shooting at the Auto industry With Car That’ll Cruise at 100 mph

“by John Shea, NEA Staff Correspondent

“Chicago – Preston Tucker says the contraption he hopes to build at the rate of 1,500 a day by sometime next year will cruise at 100 miles an hour, given highways that can take that sort of speed. Boyish, bow-tied Tucker says his projected new car, the Tucker Torpedo, will go a lot faster than that ‘You’ve got to have speed to sell cars to red-blooded Americans,’ says he. And while he's aiming at 1,500 red-blooded American customers per day, he says he can break even if he can make and sell 167 Tucker Torpedoes a day. To do it, he has leased the former Chicago-Dodge plant on Chicago's west side — a 475-acre, $170,000,000 factory that turned out B-29 engines during the war — from the War Assets Administration for the next five years with an option to buy for more than $50,000,000. Back in Detroit, the eyebrows of old-line automotive bigwigs are raised to a skeptical altitude at Tucker's ideas, probably because of the troubles that have beset another new starter in the business who had revolutionary ideas about automobile manufacture and, like Tucker, went to work on them in an ex-airplane factory. But Tucker has been mixed up with the industry since he was 13 and while he's not surrounded with the big names of automobile row, he does have associates who know their way around in that field.

“To further skepticism at his plans for mass-produced highway meteors, Tucker answers that he will build more safety into his cars than he builds speed. He has designed some revolutionary brakes he says will stop his new car in less than 100 feet at 90 miles an hour. Fenders will turn with the front wheels, headlights will follow the direction of the turn. Power goes direct from engine to wheels via hydraulic torque converters that eliminate clutch, transmission, drive shaft, differential and conventional rear axle —and 800 pounds weight. The six-cylinder 150-horsepower engine will be set between the rear wheels. The car will have a 126-inch wheelbase, will carry six passengers. Doors will open out and up to clear curbs and will extend into the roof so passengers can get in and out without stooping. The car will weigh about two-thirds as much as other cars of comparable size and power and will sell in the medium price field. The model is a sort of outlandish looking thing, compared to conventional types, but Tucker figures by the time he makes a few of the new cars the public won't be frightened by it, at least not at speeds less than 100 miles an hour.

“Like his car, Preston Tucker is a bit on the spectacular side. But essentially he is a solid combination of engineer, executive and salesman. His experience in autos began at 13 when he learned something of engine and chassis design as an office boy for the vice-president in charge of engineering for Cadillac. He moved to Ford in 1921 and had a look at foundry, reduction line, shipping and reviving, inspection, electrical installation and wiring, shop, railroad traffic and lumber grading. He shifted to sales with Studebaker, Chrysler, Pierce-Arrow and Packard. During his stretch with Packard in Indianapolis he worked closely with the late Harry Miller, who developed racing cars which won 14 out of 16 events they entered at the Indianapolis speedway. In 1938 and '39 Tucker designed and patented power-operated gun turrets used in planes and tanks a gun control stabilizer, a fire control interrupter for planes and high speed combat cars. His war time royalties on the gun turret alone would probably have run more than $100 million — if the government hadn't confiscated the patents. Tucker got around $200,000. Tucker now has a plant at Ypsilanti, Mich., making production jigs and fixtures for the auto industry. Tucker is a neat, personable fellow. His one departure from business and industry was back in the early twenties when he went off on an aerial barnstorming act. At Monroe, Mich., the parachute man refused to jump. Tucker lost a flip of a coin and bailed out himself. They picked the pieces off the top of a freight car, and Tucker spent some time in a hospital meditating on the virtues of a strictly business career. Tucker is 43, and a native of Michigan, where he has his home at Ypsilanti. He has two daughters and three sons but, like many fathers, he isn't sure about their exact ages. Wife Vera, however, supplies these statistics: daughters 22 and 19, sons 20, 17 and 14 Tucker is a dog fancier. His favorite, charity is providing seeing-eye dogs for blind veterans of World War II. He owns three cars, a '42 Packard, a '42 Nash, and a '36 Pierce-Arrow convertible which is his favorite. He saw this on the street in New York and promptly bough it—from a departing Englishman who sold it with reluctance.”

The Business and Financial section of the Thursday, October 03, 1946 edition of the New York Times gave its readers their first glimpse of Lawson’s 1/4 scale plaster Torpedo in a photograph that accompanied the following announcement:

“The ‘Torpedo’ Car Expected to Make Debut Next Year

“The rear-engine Tucker Corporation ‘Torpedo’ car comes one step nearer to waiting motorists with completion of arrangements for offering $20,000,000 in common stock, probably at $5 a share, completed yesterday with the Floyd D. Cerf Company, Inc., Chicago, as underwriters, to finance production in the former Dodge engine plant there.

“Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker Corporation, said he planned to have production models of the 150-horspeower automobile ready for test and demonstration by the first of next year and that quantity production was expected some time after March, 1947.

“The Tucker group recently obtained a ten-year lease on the $170,000,000 plant beginning March 1, 1947, from the War Assets administration. Under the terms of the lease, it can purchase the property any time within nine and one-half years for $30,000,000.”

Although Tucker Corp.’s lease with the War Assets Administration had been finalized on September 19, 1946, Federal Housing Expediter Wilson W. Wyatt, had other plans for the facility, which necessitated that the Justice Dept. intervene, the October 29, 1946 United Press newswire reporting:

“Automobiles or Housing?

“Justice Dept. Called as Referee in Squabble

“WASHINGTON, Oct. 29.—(UP) —Attorney General Tom Clark was asked today to referee an inter-agency dispute involving peacetime use of the nation's largest war plant, the Chrysler-Dodge properties at Chicago.

“The issue is whether Housing Expediter Wilson W. Wyatt has power to invalidate an agreement under which War Assets Administration leased the plant to Tucker corporation for the production of a new rear-engine automobile, ‘the Tucker Torpedo.’

“Wyatt ordered the agreement scrapped yesterday and turned over the plant to the Lustron Corp., Chicago, which has promised to use it to produce 400 prefabricated houses daily, WAA said it was legally obligated to stand by its lease, noting that the Tucker firm already has taken possession of part of the plant. Accordingly, it submitted the dispute to Clark for a ruling.

“Wyatt said he over-rode WAA because ‘there is no argument on the fact that housing production is more important at the present time than production of more types of automobiles.’ His view was shared by Wesley Pearce, housing director for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“‘Veterans would rather have houses than automobiles,’ Pearce said. Housing authorities said it was on Sept. 11, a week before the lease with Tucker was signed, that they first talked with WAA about the possibility of getting the plant for house production.

“WAA rejoined that the lease was signed before the national housing agency had shown any interest whatsoever in the plant.

“The Tucker Corp., threatened to seek an injunction if the Justice department rules in favor of the house company.

“Preston Tucker, president of the automobile firm, said his engineers estimate that the Lustron company could not begin producing pre-fabricated houses for at least 18 months. "Someone is trying to kid the 15,000,000 veterans of the United States about housing," he said in a statement.”

A November 15, 1946 Associated Press Newswire story announced that the House of Representatives' Surplus Property Committee had begun its own investigation into the Tucker-Lustron plant dispute. It also reported on Preston Tucker's statement that an un-named Washington attorney had offered to intercede on his behalf  in the lease dispute in return for a substantial amount of money and Tucker Corp. stock:

“Investigate Row in Disposal of Government-Owned Plant

“Washington, - (AP) - The house surplus property committee announced today it is investigating the row ever disposal of a big government-owned war plant in Chicago.

“Hugh D. Wise, Jr., general counsel of the house committee, said investigators have been at work several days.

“The announcement came after Housing Expediter Wilson Wyatt called on Attorney General Tom Clark to investigate a ‘mysterious’ New York lawyer's alleged offer to trade asserted government influence for $400,000 in stock and $180,000 in counsel fees.

“The committee's inquiry began, Wise added, because of a conflict between the War Assets Administration and the National Housing agency over disposal of the plant.

“In the background is a many-sided dispute involving:

“1. The $171,000.000 government-owned Dodge-Chrysler war plant in Chicago.

“2 The Tucker Corp. of Chicago, a new automobile manufacturing firm.

“3 The Lustron Corp., also of Chicago, a prefabricated housing concern.

“4 Wyatt's National Housing administration, which wants the government to lease the Dodge-Chrysler plant to Lustron for the assembly line manufacture of homes for veterans.

“6 The War Assets Administration, which already has teased the huge plant to Tucker.

“Wyatt's demand to Clark for an immediate inquiry followed a statement by Preston Tucker, head of the auto firm, that he had been approached by the New York lawyer with an implied offer to help him in the lease dispute.

“Taking up the story there, the Housing expediter said that in less than two climactic hours, the lawyer tried to talk Tucker into signing contracts purporting to affect the success or failure of Tucker's bid for the wartime plant.

“Wyatt’s statement said the lawyer presented the contracts to Tucker at noon on October 28 and stated that unless they were signed by 1:30 p.m., the National Housing Administration would issue a directive at 2 p.m., turning the plant over to the Lustron Corp. Such a directive was issued on that date.

“Wyatt quoted Tucker as saying the unnamed attorney ‘Intimated he could use his influence to stall action by the Office of the Housing Expediters in transferring the plant’ to the Lustron Corp.

“The contracts called for the New Yorker to receive $400,000 in Tucker Corp., stock, a retainer of $36,000 a year for five years as counsel for the firm, and a 99-year exclusive dealership in New York for the projected Tucker torpedo car. Wyatt said the lawyer called his office at 1:50 p.m., the same day — after Tucker had refused to sign the contracts — and declared the deal ‘was off.’ Wyatt's office had previously granted a four-hour delay, until 2 p.m., for a hearing of Tucker’s side of the case. Wyatt's statement emphatically disowned ‘any representation by such an attorney of any connection with his (Wyatt's) office or influence in the plant matter.’”

The House investigation commenced soon afterwards, the November 22, 1946 Associated Press newswire reporting on the day's testimony where John J. O’Brien, deputy administrator of the WAA went to bat for Tucker:

“Housing Official Backs RFC Loan For Lustron Corp.

WASHINGTON. Nov. 21, - (AP) - Deputy Housing Administrator Joseph H. Rauh testified today that a $52,000,000 RFC grant which his agency seeks for, the Lustron Corp. is ‘not a good business loan’ unless ‘we want to get houses now the way we wanted to get tanks during the war.’

“If so, he said, the loan should be granted, despite other considerations, to enable the company to make prefabricated vitreous enamel housing. If not, he added, ‘let's quit kidding ourselves.’

“Rauh was one of several housing officials who appeared before a Senate war investigating subcommittee to argue that the surplus Dodge-Chrysler plant in Chicago should go to Lustron.

“Standing in the way, however, is the rival claim of Preston Tucker, designer of the ‘'Tucker Torpedo’ rear-engine automobile, for the same plant. John J. O'Brien, deputy administrator of the War Assets Corp. backed up Tucker’s claim of prior rights, testifying that the motor maker has a valid lease contract although an earlier one was cancelled after it proved unsatisfactory to both signers.

“The new contract, effective next March, calls for payment of $600,000 annual rental for the first two years, and $2,400,000 a year or three percent of gross sales, whichever is larger, during the next eight years. O'Brien said he believes the new contract would net the government more in the long run.

“On Oct. 17, more than two months after the War Assets Administration had completed its arrangement with Tucker, Wilson Wyatt, federal housing expediter, issued a directive for WAA to turn the property over to Lustron, under his overriding authority to speed the construction of housing for veterans. WAA, contending that Tucker's contract is valid, has not done so.

“Senator Ferguson of Michigan, brought out by questioning Rauh that Wyatt also prepared, but not signed or issued, a directive to RFC ordering it to grant Lustron a $52,000,000 loan.

“Rich Emphasized

“Harvey J. Gunderson, an RFC director, told the Senators his organization is eager to cooperate with the housing program, but declined the Lustron loan unanimously because the government would be putting up $52,000,000 to the company’s $36,000.

“‘If the enterprise were unsuccessful,’ he said, ‘substantially all of the risk of loss would fall on the government. If the enterprise were successful, the profits of the owners would be enormous and out of all relationship to their investment or risk.’ Gunderson estimated that Lustron could expect a return of 14,000 per cent on its investment in 14 months if the project succeeded.”

Although the outcome of the Tucker - Lustron dispute wouldn’t be publicly announced until January 4, 1947, Preston Tucker acted as if the decision had already been decided (in his favor) when he was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune’s Philip Hampson for a piece published in the December 29, 1946 edition of the newspaper:

“Tucker Hopes to Start Auto Output in April

“by Philip Hampson

“Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker, yesterday pitched into his new born automobile business in the former Dodge-Chicago plant after his long battle in Washington with the national housing agency for possession of the plant. He had hoped to have the first working models of his new car completed by this time, but because of the Washington delays he said it probably will be the middle of February before this is accomplished.

“His own office at least is beginning to look like an auto plant headquarters of the type indigenous to Detroit. However, not much appears to be happening out in the vast reaches of the main plant of the ‘world’s largest factory’ which only a little more than a year ago was teeming with the activity of 36,000 persons building aviation engines for war use. Thousands of machines stand idle, some yet to be removed but many scheduled to be converted to auto production.

“Hopes to Start In April

“By the middle of April the scene should be much different. Tucker hopes by then to have a few cars coming off the assembly line. Installation of the line is simplified because the plant was so laid out that a comparatively small amount of work will ready it for auto production. Even the conveyor system needs little alteration.

“Tucker said that about 100 persons now are employed on the company’s supervisory force, including the man to be in charge of piston manufacture and superintendents of the pattern and toolroom departments. Twenty have been engaged in the last week.

“The toolroom is being equipped and, in a separate building, patterns are being made for the castings. Tucker said the basic engineering for the new car has been completed and from now on engineering will be a matter of refinements by production experts on the staff.

“Suppliers in Chicago Area

“Tucker said that he has completed the recruiting of suppliers, a substantial number of whom will be in the immediate Chicago area. He has even been able to find a good source of batteries, which are in scarce supply. He does not expect any serious lack of materials.

“The car will have a wheel base of 126 to 128 inches and will weigh about 2,595 pounds. Of the total weight 1,400 to 1,500 pounds will be aluminum in the hood, bumpers, engine block, and crank case. Steel will be used in a substantial part of the body where much tensile strength is required.

“Many innovations are to be incorporated in the car, which is to have its engine at the rear, Tucker said. The speedometer will be mounted on the steering wheel and will be visible to passengers in the back seat. Another is a combination headlight and periscope on the roof. This is to give clear rear vision. A new method of applying the paint to the car body by electricity has been adopted.

“Stock Offering Planned

“Floyd D. Cerf, president of the Floyd D. Cerf company, said that attorneys are working on the registration statement for 4 million shares of stock which it is planned to offer the public at $5 a share. Cerf said the offering is expected early next year.

“Tucker said he is arranging to sublease up to 1,600,000 square feet of the plant’s 6,800,000 total. He said he offered 1 million square feet to Lustron corporation, Chicago, which, with the blessing of the NHA, had sought the plant to build pre-fabricated houses, but his offer was turned down.”

At the end of December, 1946 Preston T. Tucker had paid a visit to the offices of Tammen & Denison, a well-respected Detroit industrial design firm as he was looking for an automobile stylist. George S. Lawson, the initial designer of the Tucker Torpedo, had recently quit (or was fired) and Tucker was hoping that Tammen & Denison’s resident automobile stylist, Alex S. Tremulis, could help get his self-named automobile project back on track. Although the exact date of Lawson’s departure is unknown, his ‘doctored’ photographs of the plaster ¼-scale Torpedo date to mid-summer 1946.

Lawson claimed he quit because he had never been paid – Tucker implied he was fired – and he subsequently sued Tucker for $45,000, settling out of court for $10,000. In the 1949-50 trial to determine whether Tucker and his associates had willfully perpetrated fraud, Lawson appeared as the prosecution’s first witness.

(Lawson eventually returned to his hometown of Cleveland where he started a business with his brother James, called Future Products, which designed educational toys and rubber dolls. He eventually returned to automobile design in the mid-50s working for General Motors, from 1959-1962 for American Motors and from 1962 ‘till retirement for Ford.)

By the winter of 1946 Tucker’s small group of production planners and mechanics were unhappy with the firm’s continued lack of progress and direction. Tucker blamed the lack of activity solely on Lawson claiming that after two years, the designer had yet to present him with an acceptable design.

In reality the blame rested solely on Tucker’s shoulders – he had no idea what was required to design, engineer and build an all-new automobile (or any automobile for that matter) and the few people on staff that did, were afraid to speak up lest they be shown the door. During his 1949-1950 trial numerous witnesses testified that at this time Tucker had no research, test or engineering staff, no blueprints and no draftsmen. He did have a couple of racecar builders and mechanics, but none of them had ever set foot inside of an auto plant.

Although Tucker had managed to get a handful of experienced auto production men on staff with the promise of a big paycheck, they had nothing to work with as there was no prototype, and at this stage Tucker still had little idea of what his self-named car would look like.

From late 1946 into early 1948 the following auto industry veterans would assist Preston Tucker in getting the car to market: Fred L. Rockelman, v.p. and director of sales (ex- sales dir. at Ford Motor Co., former pres. of Plymouth div. of Chrysler Corp.); Hanson A. Brown, executive v.p. (former v.p. and gen. mgr., GM of Canada Ltd.); Ben G. Parsons, v.p. and chief engineer (former engineer, Bendix div. of Borg Warner); Lee S. Treese, v.p. of manufacturing (former production superintendent of Ford Motor Co.); Herbert Morley, v.p. procurement (former mgr., Norge div. Borg-Warner); Mitchell W. Dulian, sales manager (former sales mgr., Buick) and Kenneth E. Lyman, development engineer (former engineer, Bendix div. of Borg-Warner engineer); Charles T. Pearson, dir. public relations (former Detroit reporter for Associated Press); and Daniel Leabu, gen. mgr. of production (former mgr., Ypsilanti Tool & Machine Co.).

Without a prototype to work from the entire project was dead in the water, as Tucker’s former publicity man, Charles T. Pearson, explained in 1960:

“Early in December [1946], during the lull in the housing fight, I was complaining to one of the top men planning production that I wished to hell we had something better than the lousy art work we were using, because it was getting tougher to sell every day.  It was too arty and stylized to start with and, worse, still, even a layman could see that it was a long way from the six-passenger sedan Tucker said he was going to build.

“The production man said he was just as disgusted as I was, and if he had even an idea as to what the body and chassis were going to look like he could at least start figuring out how to build it.  That was what started the first actual work on the final body design, and the entire job was completed in less than a month.

“The dimensions set up at this time were, with few exceptions, the ones that were used in the final body design.  There was no great attempt at styling, though the side silhouette was nearly identical with the finished design.  An extra four inches were allowed on wheelbase, because Tucker was still insisting on fenders that turned with the wheels, and the production man said there would be plenty of time to talk him out of that later.”

Many of Tucker’s problems were resolved in late December 1946 with the arrival of a single man - his name, Alex S. Tremulis.

The date of the first meeting Tremulis had with Preston Tucker was described by Pearson as being on Christmas Eve, 1946 – a date sometimes mentioned by Tremulis himself (he recalled meeting Tucker at the Drake Hotel on Dec. 24, 1946.) However Tucker’s records state the meeting took place several days later, with a call for an appointment on Dec. 27, 1946 and an initial meeting on Dec. 28, 1946 at the Tammen & Denison offices with Tremulis, Tucker, Lee S. Treese (Tucker Corp.’s VP of Manufacturing), and Kenneth Lyman (Tucker Corp.’s VP of Engineering) at which time Tremulis presented his guests with his portfolio of futuristic concept cars and aircraft. Impressed, Tucker agreed to hire him as a styling consultant, albeit as a Tammen & Denison subcontractor.

In his 1966 Automobile Quarterly article on the Tucker, Tremulis recalled his first meetings with Tucker:

“It was the week before Christmas, 1946 that I first communicated with Preston Tucker and requested an appointment. When I saw him a week later, he told me he could give me just fifteen minutes as he had a luncheon engagement.

“Those fifteen minutes stretched to three hours, as it happened, and by the time I left Preston's office I had a styling-study contract in my hand. The next five days were spent exploring themes and recommendations that I had discussed with him at our meeting. At about 7 p.m., New Year's Eve, Preston paid me a visit at the office of a product design firm in the Field Building, Chicago, where I was then working. He was on his way to a party. I had made some sketches, and when I showed them to Preston, he said simply, ‘That's it.’ Nobody could have been more surprised than I; so far as I was concerned, the sketches were just preliminaries, but Tucker insisted that first thoughts are always the best. ‘The trouble with you stylists,’ he said, ‘is that you never know when to stop.’ Tucker told my wife to tear up my styling-study contract, for I was no longer a consultant, that as of New Year's Eve I was chief stylist for the Tucker Corporation. It was a pleasant way to start the new year, and thinking back, I realize that Tucker was right in having a high regard for first thoughts. At least ninety per cent of the design ideas I showed him on New Year's Eve found their way into the production car.

“On New Year's Day I conferred again with Preston. I now insisted that the Tucker car be fully aerodynamic and that it express my design philosophy. Further, I told him that if he didn't let me design the car my way, I would return to the aircraft profession where people really liked my work. Reflecting back, I realize how brash I was then. But I had remembered Theodore von Karman's advice to those of us in the design branch of Aircraft Laboratory Wright Field during World War II. He counseled us not merely to talk about something we believed in, but to do it. And as a fillip to drive home his point, he would say, ‘Remember, the meek shall inherit nothing.’

“Preston Tucker's advice, on that first day of 1947, was similar, but there was more urgency in it. ‘Grab the ball and run with it,’ he told me, ‘but just make sure the car doesn't look as if it were frightened by an airplane. I want it ready for paint in sixty days!’

“‘Sixty days!’ I exclaimed. ‘It’ll take me at least sixty days for a clay model.’

“‘Who said clay? I’ve got the best metal man in the world waiting for you. Go! Go! Go!’”

In several other articles Tremulis claimed that 2 days after Christmas (Dec. 27, 1946) he had called Tucker out of the blue after seeing Charles T. Pearson’s recent article on the Tucker Torpedo in the December issue of Science Illustrated. Tremulis states he then met with Tucker the following day (Dec. 28, 1946) for a 3-hour meeting at which time he pointed out several problems with Lawson’s design, proposing it be re-designed to give it more market appeal and manufacturability.

Tremulis spent the next several days preparing design proposals which he presented to Tucker at the Tammen & Denison offices on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 1946), at which time he was hired as the Tucker Corp.’s chief stylist. In his 1949 Tucker trial testimony Tremulis stated that Tucker hired his services from Tammen & Denison under a three-month contract, which expired at the end of March 1947, a detail which he omits in subsequent interviews and articles. As most of Tremulis’ early Tucker renderings are emblazoned with a prominent Tammen & Denison logo, it follows that Tremulis was initially working as a subcontractor to Tucker Corp., and not as a direct employee.

In any case, it’s accepted that Tremulis first met with Tucker in late December, 1946 and during the ensuing week he designed an all-new aerodynamic 4-door sedan that incorporated several of the Lawson proposal’s novel features such as the cyclops eye and steerable pontoon fenders.

At a Sunday, January 5, 1947 meeting with Tucker, Abraham Karatz (disbarred Minneapolis attorney and Tucker’s financial advisor), Fred Rockelman (Tucker Corp. vice-president) and Preston T. Tucker Jr. (Tucker's son and purported 'engineer'), Tremulis showed off a striking series of airbrushed renderings that bowled over the attendees. They liked what they saw and immediately agreed to hire Tremulis as Tucker’s chief stylist – initially as a Tammen & Denison contract employee and later on as a direct Tucker Corp. employee (after Tammen & Denison’s contract expired in late March.)

The best metal man in the business was Indy racecar constructor Herman Ringling. Although Tremulis probably didn’t realize it at the time Ringling and Tremulis had both worked for Duesenberg, albeit one decade apart; Ringling for Duesenberg Bros. in Indianapolis and Tremulis for Auburn Corp. (parent of Duesenberg) in Connersville, Indiana.

Tremulis became a big fan of Ringling, recalling:

“Herman Ringling was the sheet-metal maestro. Remember the ill-fated Stutz Black Hawk of 1928? Ringling had pounded out that vehicle for Frank Lockhart's Land Speed Record attempt, movable fender fairings and all, in just thirty days. He had built seven out of the ten front-wheel-drive Ford-Miller Indy cars of 1935. And he was known for his ability to repair a car that had gone over the wall two days before the 500-mile race and have it on the starting line in prime paint on race day”

With strict attention to passenger comfort and safety, Tremulis developed a body contour with adequate interior dimensions and windows that could roll down into the doors. His initial renderings included 4 doors that extended into the roofline and an expansive interior that seated 6 adults – 3 in the front, 3 in the back. At that time Tucker was still insistent upon his moveable pontoon front fenders and Tremulis did an exceptional job at integrating them into the rest of the vehicle, which managed to retain many of the styling cues introduced by Lawson.

Tucker badly needed Tremulis to complete the body design and orthographic drawings so that his mechanics and metalworkers could construct a working prototype within the next 60 days – a preposterous request given the circumstances. As engineering the moveable cycle fenders would have eaten up most of that time, Tremulis (and several others) managed to convince Tucker to abandon them in favor of conventional front fenders, a move which required re-engineering the center-mounted ‘cyclops eye’ to turn with the wheels instead, another one of Lawson’s ideas that made it into production.

To get Tucker to ‘go along with the program’ Tremulis pointed out that potential instability problems might result, providing Frank Lockhart's 1928 Stutz Black Hawk land speed record car as an example. It too incorporated front cycle fenders which in wind tunnel testing (at 200 mph+) had exhibited a tendency to turn the front end of the car into the wind (aka weather-cocking). Although the Tucker wouldn’t have suffered the same malady at normal speeds, Tucker reluctantly agreed – he may have actually thought the production Tucker would reach triple digit speeds.

One of Tremulis’ second group of renderings (dated to the first or second week of January) totally eliminated the pontoon silhouette from the front fenders in favor of a standard slab-sided treatment as found on post-war Packard and Kaiser-Frazer automobiles. Charles T. Pearson, the firm’s public relations man had never liked Lawson’s pontoon fenders, stating in 1960:

“I liked all except the front fenders which I thought stunk, and said so. My popularity couldn't have dropped faster with a sudden attack of smallpox. Tucker scowled at me for a week, though much later he admitted that at least he agreed with my logic.”

Tucker didn’t like the slab-sided look and insisted that the unique pontoon-style front fenders remain, which in hindsight turned out to be a great decision - which like the ‘cyclops eye’, remains another endearing feature of the car.

At the time Tremulis drove an unusual right-hand drive Lincoln Zephyr coupe whose hot-rodded V-12 engine required periodic attention. As he was too busy to work on it he entrusted its maintenance to three Chicago brothers named Joseph, Vincent and Andrew Granatelli. They also distributed their own line of speed equipment (Grancor) from their 5058 N. Broadway garage and in 1946 entered a Grancor-sponsored 1935 Miller-Ford V-8 in the Indianapolis 500, subsequently becoming one of Indy's best-known competitors - long before Andy made a fortune selling STP.

The January 5, 1947 edition of the Chicago Tribune provided some much-needed good news to the Tucker Corp:

“Tucker Victor In Battle For Big Dodge Plant

“Lustron Loses; Will Seek Douglas Factory

“by Philip Warden [Tribune Press Service]

“Washington, Jan. 4 - The battle for the 170 million dollar Dodge-Chicago war plant is over, it was learned today. The Tucker corporation, automobile manufacturer, who holds a lease on the plant, has been conceded the winner by Lustron corporation, Chicago - prefabricated house manufacturer, and by the national housing administration. Housing Expediter Frank Creedon is expected to announce early next week that he is rescinding the order which his predecessor, Wilson Wyatt, issued to the War Assets Ad- ministration to disregard the Tucker lease and turn the plant over to Lustron.

“Lustron, it was reported, will seek to obtain the Douglas engine plant in Park Ridge, Ill., to house its new plant if it is successful in obtaining RFC financing of its operations.

“RFC to Act Soon

“Lustron filed a loan application with the housing expediter on Dec. 12. The application is expected to be forwarded to the RFC for action next week. The application supplements a previous one for 52 million dollars turned down by RFC because Lustron was putting only $36,000 of its own cash into the establishment of a new business. RFC said that it would not make a 100 per cent loan.

“In its new application, Lustron asks for a $12,800,000 loan. It proposes to furnish thru private sources 20 per cent or $3,200,000 of the 16 million dollar capital of the new corporation. Tools, royalties and blueprints owned by Carl Strandlund, president of Lustron, or his associates in the Chicago Vitreous Enamel corporation, parent organization of Lustron, are not included in the $3,200,000 figure, it was reported by a spokesman for the company.

“Ask 80 Pvt. Loan

“Lustron representatives have held a series of conferences with RFC officials on the new loan application which calls for the government to put up 80 per cent of the money, plus guaranteeing the company a market for the 15,000 porcelain- enamel homes it expects to produce its first year.

“It is understood that George Allen, who is retiring as head of the RFC on Jan. 16, plans to rule on the Lustron loan before leaving office. It was Allen who turned  down the first loan during the battle over the housing program which brought the resignation of Wyatt, and was followed later by Allen’s resignation.

“The battle for the giant surplus war plant has been the subject of two congressional investigations. Both a subcommittee of the senate war investigating committee and the senate small business committee have probed into the affair.

“Charges Highlight Battle

“The battle also was highlighted by charges by Preston T. Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, that he had been approached by a Washington attorney claiming ‘connections’ in NHA. The attorney, according to Tucker, promised assurances to Tucker that he would get the plant if he hired the attorney to represent the company, give him an 8 per cent stock interest in the company, and grant him exclusive selling rights on the Tucker Torpedo automobile in New York and New Jersey.

“Although the Army Air Forces still occupy the Douglas plant Lustron hopes to obtain and the plant has not yet been declared surplus by the army. Lustron is said to have given assurances that the plant will be made available if the RFC loan goes thru.

“Lustron Halves Plans

“Lustron has halved its home building plans in its latest application, it was reported. Instead of turning out 30,000 factory built houses and parts for an additional 20,000 houses in 1947, it hopes to produce only 15,000 houses in its first year of operation, a company spokesman said.

“Last Sept. 18, when the WAA announced that it had leased the Dodge plant to Tucker, it said between 35,000 and 45,000 persons would be employed In the new automobile plant.

“The lease was contingent upon the Tucker corporation submitting evidence before March 1 that it had sufficient working capital and cash reserve to warrant it assuming the obligation of the lease.”

The hiring of Tremulis was soon followed by the first lawsuit lodged against the recently-formed Tucker Corp., as reported on the January 10, 1947 United Press newswire:

“Tucker and Car Corporation Sued For $1,430,000

“Chicago - (UP) - Preston Tucker, who plans to manufacture a new automobile, and the Tucker Corporation were named Friday in two suits for $1,430,000 damages brought by Theodore Granik, New York and Washington attorney.

“One of the suits filed in circuit court here charged breach of a contract to pay Granik $36,000 a year as attorney for the automobile firm, refusal to give a promised 8 percent of the classes B stock and withholding of a promised exclusive distributing agency for the Tucker automobiles in metropolitan New York and northern New Jersey.

“The other suit charged Tucker with slander and malice in statements allegedly given by Tucker to newspaper reporters.

“Granik, who claims he was retained by the corporation last Aug. 12, said his efforts resulted in the corporation’s obtaining financing and a lease from the War Assets Administration on the Dodge Chicago plant.

“Eight associates of Tucker were named as defendants in the first suit, and the second named Tucker alone.

“The slander suit charged that Tucker made statements which were published in a Chicago newspaper and were intended to break the contract with Granik and discredit the national housing agency, which had attempted to have the Dodge Chicago plant transferred to the Lustron Corporation for the manufacture of prefabricated houses.”

Tremulis continued working on the project and by the middle of January had completely re-designed Lawson’s most recent concept, which dated back to the middle of 1946. On March 2, 1947, Tremulis’ 4-door Tucker debuted nationally via full-page newspaper advertisements introducing the ‘Tucker ‘48.’

Unfortunately Tremulis never detailed the contributions of J. Gordon Lippincott & Associates - a second group of designers that Tucker had brought in to help finalize the car in mid-March, 1947. Luckily Philip S. Egan, a junior member of the New York design firm and later on Tremulis’ assistant, wrote several articles and a book detailing his experiences while working for Tucker*.

(*Alex S. Tremulis nephew, William S. Tremulis - son of Demosthenes 'Dick' Sarantos and Elizabeth [Pickett] Tremulis - who supplied some of the material in this biography and publishes the excellent website - recently told me his uncle wrote a never-published biography which he hopes to publish in the near future that may contain some additional details of the Lippincott group’s contributions.)

Just as Egan was putting the finishing touches on his Tucker memoir, “Design and Destiny: The Making of the Tucker Automobile” Francis Ford Coppola released his 1988 biopic, ‘Tucker: the Man and the Dream.’ Egan also publicized his book via two articles that appeared in Vol. 26, No.3 of Automobile Quarterly entitled, ‘Tucker, Design and Destiny’ and ‘Tremulis: the Genius Behind the Tucker’.

Much more recently, retired designer Gale Halderman, who worked under Tremulis’ in Ford Motor Co.’s advanced design studio during 1954-1955, recalled a conversation he had with Tremulis back in the day where Read Viemeister’s name came up:

“I told him [Tremulis] that my instructor at the Dayton Art Institute showed pictures of the Tucker in clay being designed. The designer’s name was Read Viemeister… his associate on the design was Budd Steinhilber… at the time they worked for Lippincott & Margolis Industrial Design firm in NY when Tucker called for design help… Alex wasn’t able to satisfy Tucker. When I told Alex this he said… ‘Yes, Viemeister really did design the car… but I got it ready for tooling.’”

Egan’s take on Tucker’s unique prototyping procedure, which he admits “bordered on the ridiculous,” follows:

“Preston Tucker had originally dictated a rather unorthodox design process. When Alex told him that a clay model of the car would take 60 days to complete, Tucker responded, ‘Who said clay? I've got the best metal man in the world waiting for you. Go! Go! Go!’ So, with his acute sense of shape and dimension, Alex translated his layout directly into sheetmetal. (Tucker had permitted a stunted 1/8 scale clay, which was of very little help.) ‘The best metal man in the world’ was Herman Ringling, a master of metal fabrication in the mold of Cellini. Ringling had fashioned body panels for the Cord 810 on a drop hammer in just the same way he was forming them for the Tucker ‘48: ‘By eye!’ he said, and with primitive tools. He could pound sheet metal held in his bare hands (‘Gloves interfere with your touch.’) to arrive at just the right shape. Still, for a production car undertaking, this process bordered on the ridiculous.

“Between the first of January and our [Lippincott Team] arrival in the spring of 1947, Tremulis had managed a crash program calling for exhausting hours of work by a dedicated crew. They brought an automobile design project from scratch to a recognizable body shape in metal without a clay model (there had been an embryonic 1/8 size clay model of little help). For a production car undertaking this bordered on the ridiculous, but he had done it.”

Egan further clarified:

“Up until the time of our arrival, all efforts had been directed at forging the metal marvel [aka Tin Goose].

“Tremulis' role at the Tucker Corporation, beginning in early 1947, was not confined to styling. As the chief body designer, he established the fundamental dimensions of the projected car and supervised the building of the operating metal prototype. He also helped to dissuade Preston Tucker from some pet ideas that stretched the limits of practicality for a passenger car, such as cycle fenders that pivoted with the front wheels. And while Tucker remained committed, in spite of Alex's warning, to a huge, low-speed engine with fuel injection and hydraulic valves (it took the abysmal dynamometer performance of the prototype to convince him of its uselessness), Alex at least planned ahead for the engine's ultimate demise. Convinced of what would transpire, he [Tremulis]’decided to design the rear end [of the car] to fit a typical six cylinder engine. The 335-cubic-inch engine designed by Aircooled Motors fit perfectly in the engine compartment as I had designed it.’

“It is difficult to imagine the Tucker automobile without the influence of Alex Tremulis. Preston Tucker did not have a viable design before Alex joined the team, and he desperately needed help. It was Alex who took the torch and created a world-class automobile body from scratch. Regardless of the qualifications and skills of Preston Tucker and the talented engineers he recruited, they needed a design leader with practical experience in the construction of viable automobiles. They needed Alex Tremulis.”

Egan also gives Tremulis credit for the ‘Tin Goose’ moniker, which paid homage to William Bushnell Stout’s (click here for his biography) original 1926 Ford Trimotor which was promoted as ‘the safest airplane in the world’ due to its all-metal construction.

February 5, 1947 United Press newswire article:

“Tucker, New Auto Field Entrant, To Strive for Safety and Utility

“Buffalo, NY - (UP) - Safety and utility rather than glitter and rakish lines will govern design of future automobiles, according to Preston Tucker, designer of the new rear engine Tucker ‘Torpedo.’

“Tucker, who plans to begin production of his new car shortly in the $170,000,000 former Chicago Dodge plant, told a group of Buffalo automotive engineers that a ‘wholly functional design’ for an automobile has yet to be presented to the public.

“‘The car of today is a direct descendant of the carriage of horse and buggy days,’ he said. ‘The first auto was merely a buggy with a motor added and a horse subtracted. Since then, auto design has just grown like Topsy, with developments added here and there as they were tested and found practical.’

“With better roads and increasing top speed, safety should become the most important factor in new design. Tucker said.

“‘Safety is more than steel turret tops and four-wheel brakes,’ he continued. ‘Quick, positive acceleration often is just as important as brakes and steel bodies. In heavy highway traffic, a sudden burst of speed may prevent an accident.’

“Safety Sacrificed

“The designer stressed that one mistake which has developed over the past decade is ‘sacrifice of vision for appearance. The public has been oversold on a high, hollow hood that many drivers can scarcely see over,’ he said.

“‘Adequate illumination is important to full vision,’ Tucker added. ‘Fast driving on curved roads shows the need for headlights that turn with the wheels so there will be no blind spots on sharp turns.’

“Tucker described his new Torpedo as approximately 1,000 pounds lighter than conventional automobiles of comparable size, with a 150 horsepower opposed airplane-type engine. Wheels will be individually suspended and brakes will be hydraulic disk type, he said. More than 800 parts used in conventional automobiles have been eliminated from the Tucker car, including the differential, drive shaft housing, clutch and transmission.

“Tucker said pilot models of his new car were approaching completion and soon would be ready for road tests. He hopes to turn out 1,000 cars a day when mass production is under way at his Chicago plant.”

During January, February, March, April and May of 1947 zone distributors, such as James J. Smith, whose Blackhawk Tucker Sales, Inc., handled the state of Iowa, placed display advertisements in the local newspapers which read:

“Auto Dealerships Now Available for the New Tucker Torpedo. The most talked-about automobile in the world.

“See James J. Smith at Hotel Burlington Monday evening or at any time Tuesday, Feb, 18. Blackhawk Tucker Sales, Inc., 809 American Building Cedar Rapids, Iowa James J. Smith Telephone 3-1063”

The appointment of authorized Tucker distributors was announced all around the country during February and March of 1947, a typical release from the February 18, 1947 edition of the Bismarck Tribune follows:

“Sioux Falls Man Has Tucker Agency

“Appointment of Cliff T. Igo, Sioux Falls, S.D., to organize a firm as dealer and distributor of the new Tucker Torpedo automobile throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and surrounding areas, was announced Monday by Preston Tucker, president of the corporation.

“Igo’s firm will set up distribution points and sales agencies at Sioux Falls, S. D., and Fargo. Pilot models of the new car are nearing completion in the Tucker plant, used by the government during the war to manufacture B-28 bomber engines. The largest motor factory In the world, it will turn out 1,000 Tucker Torpedoes a day when quantity production is under way.”

By the end of February the dimensions of the car’s package was mostly locked-in and Tucker’s small crew of mechanics and metal workers began putting together what would become the ‘Tin Goose’. Tucker felt Tremulis’ latest design was sufficiently developed to be used in an upcoming advertising, so Tucker asked him to put together some artwork for a series of newspaper advertisements that were slated to debut nationwide during the first week of March.

Even at this late date Tucker still had reservations in regards to certain details of Tremulis’ design and decided to get some input from a third party. Prior to hiring Tremulis, Tucker had visited the Manhattan offices of J. Gordon Lippincott and Associates*, a Manhattan industrial design firm run by a former Pratt Institute instructor of the same name.

(*Dohner & Lippincott was founded in 1943 by two Pratt Institute instructors named Donald R. Dohner and J. Gordon Lippincott in partnership with the Douglas T. Sterling Co., of Stamford, Conn. Dohner passed away unexpectedly in December of 1943, at which time the firm name became J. Gordon Lippincott & Associates. In 1944, architect Walter P. Margulies joined the firm and in 1947 bought out Lippincott’s partner, Douglas T. Sterling Co., the firm subsequently being changed to Lippincott & Margulies. Known simply as Lippincott today, it remains one of the world’s leading brand strategy and design firms.)

The choice was most likely not a random one, as J. Gordon Lippincott was an acquaintance of Andrew J. Higgins, Tucker’s former business partner. Higgins had been looking to get into the pleasure craft business and had worked with Lippincott on the project.In a 1987 interview with Philip S. Egan, Lippincott recalled:

“Tucker gave me a ring on the phone and said that he wanted to come up and talk to me about styling an automobile. And so, one fine day, he stopped in the office. Tucker said that he wanted to bring out an automobile as fast as possible. I suspect that Tucker talked to other designers, but he chose us. In our meeting [which included Margulies], Tucker agreed to cash in advance. After all, Tucker didn't even have a factory at that time. We agreed on a budget, a very modest one. I believe it was in the $40-50,000 range.”

After two months of working with Tremulis, Tucker was no longer convinced that he had his ‘dream car’ so at the end of February, 1947 Lippincott was invited to come to his suite at Chicago's Drake Hotel in the hopes of coming to an agreement. Lippincott contacted an automotive design specialist and former employee, Read Viemeister*, to see if he would be interested in serving as a consultant on the Tucker project.

(*Viemeister now headed his own firm, Vie Design Studios, in Yellow Springs, Ohio)

Viemeister agreed and put together a few quick renderings and hopped on a train to join Lippincott in time for the Tuesday, March 4, 1947 meeting with Tucker at the Drake Hotel. At the meeting Tucker was noticably impressed with one ofViemeister’s renderings which depicted an open car door revealing an opulent interior done as a negative rendering (white lines on black paper) that was captioned “Real Luxury In Transit.” After reassuring Tucker that the Lippincott team was more than capable of turning a simple rendering into a full-size clay model, the deal was signed.

Once he returned to New York, Lippincott and junior partner Walter Margulies put together a team for the Tucker account which consisted ofRead Viemeister (consultant); Hal Bergstrom (project manager), and Tucker P. Madawick, Budd Steinhilber and Philip S. Egan (stylists and modelers).

Prior to leaving for Chicago, Read Viemeister came to New York to do some preliminary renderings, one of which depicted a Tucker ‘48 with a dropped center front bumper reminiscent of a steer horn that, slightly-modified, found its way onto the 1947 Tucker prototype and subsequent pilot models.

On Monday March 10, 1947 the team* met at LaGuardia Airport and boarded a plane bound for Chicago's Midway Airport. Upon their arrival they checked into the Southmoor Hotel on Chicago's South Side lakeshore, which would serve as their home for the next two months.

(*minus Budd Steinhilber, whose trip to Chicago was delayed for several days.)

When they awoke the next day, the four members of the Lippincott team took a 9-mile taxicab ride to the sprawling Tucker Plant on Cicero Ave. Upon entering the plant’s reception room they were greeted by one of Harry A. Miller’s Indianapolis racecars which had an attached placard that stated it:

“...holds more than 30 national and international records, set on the Utah salt flats. It has been clocked at a top speed of 164 mph and averaged more than 150 mph for 500 miles.”

The racecar had been fitted with a Leo Goosen-built 400 hp six-cylinder engine by Joe Lenki, who was currently serving as a Tucker Corp. consultant on fuel injection and suspension.

Hal Bergstrom introduced the Lippincott team to the guard at the reception desk and soon after Alex S. Tremulis appeared to take them on a tour of the facility which was described by Egan in 1988:

“As we came into a huge assembly bay, about the size of a large aircraft hanger, the sound of our echoing footsteps was suddenly drowned out by cacophony... Here we saw embryonic shapes in raw sheet metal coalescing into the frame and part of the body of an automobile. A nearby drop hammer pounded sheet metal from flat to contoured with ear-splitting vibrations, and the junctions of formed sheet and frame were fused under the bright sparks of welding torches. Elsewhere, men at work stations devoted themselves to the mechanical details of torching, cutting, bending, and drilling the parts of a prototype automobile.”

Many of the metal-shapers and mechanics seen by the Lippincott team were a fiercely loyal group of Tucker’s friends that he had befriended during his annual pilgrimages to the Indianapolis 500.

They included Indy car driver Gene Haustein* (a veritable jack of all trades), engine builder Joe Lencki (fuel system and suspension), mechanic Al McKenzie (racing mechanic for the Horace E. Dodge Boat and Plane Corp.), pilot / mechanic William Burns, (worked for the Heath Airplane Co., Chicago, manufacturers of the Heath Baby Bullet and later on ‘Heathkit’ radio and oscilloscope kits); Joseph Thompson, (former Raymond Loewy Associates clay modeler); William Stampfli (master mechanic), John ‘Eddie’ Offutt (Harry A. Miller’s longtime mechanic); Jimmy Sukayama (worked on early powertrain development in Ypsilanti); Warren Rice (Buick powertrain engineer who helped develop the ‘Dynaflow’ semi-automatic transmission), and veteran racecar builders Emil Deidt and Herman Ringling.

(*Once the ‘Tin Goose’ was completed, Gene Haustein served as the official Tucker Corp. test driver.)

Herman Ringling was placed in charge of building the ‘Tin Goose’ which was constructed using an extensively reworked 1942 Oldsmobile Dynamic Cruiser Four-Door ‘Fastback’ Sedan that did double duty as a makeshift body buck. Against the advice of most everyone, Tucker insisted they construct the prototype directly from Tremulis’ sketches without constructing a full-size clay model beforehand. In 1960 Charles T. Pearson described the process which he had witnessed first-hand while serving as Tucker’s director of public relations:

“As each part of the new Tucker body was finished the original part from the Olds was junked, so when they got through about the only parts that remained from the original body were the roof, which had been completely reshaped, and door handles, window mechanisms, locks and hardware – parts that were the same whether they came from another automobile or from the manufacturer’s bins.

“The first car was, of course, completely handmade, and nobody connected with the job ever claimed it wasn’t. It also had plenty of solder, probably several hundred pounds. Maybe Cellini could have hammered out a body in ten years without using solder, but nobody in his right mind would try it on a one-shot job where one of the most important factors was speed.”

After leaving Tucker’s metalwork and fabrication department Tremulis led the Lippincott team to a more isolated part of the expansive plant where he had constructed a makeshift design studio where a full-size clay model (clay no. 1) was already being sculpted. Egan recollected:

“Since he had accepted the position of chief stylist in January, Alex had brought the design of the Tucker automobile from the nebulous to the three-dimensional. He had developed a firm layout of the car which he showed us in a 1/8-size drawing, with every outside and inside dimension carefully indicated.

“A two-man crew worked on the beginnings of a full-size clay model of a car. We could discern a shape in that brownish clay which was clearly the essence of the Tucker ‘48 I had seen in the newspaper advertisement. I noticed that the details at front and rear were vague, without resolution.”

The tour concluded with a long meeting with Preston T. Tucker where he stated his objectives and expectations, Egan recalling:

“Tucker immediately impressed me as the archetype of the salesman who could not only sell refrigerators to Eskimos, but also have them liking the refrigerators after the purchase. He was not a polished man, yet he had the power to interest others in his ideas. Before the night was over, I, too, shared the eagerness and enthusiasm of those who had chosen to follow him without reservation.

“As the meeting steadily warmed, members of the Lippincott crew, especially Read, began to contribute their own ideas for the design of the Tucker ‘48. The subject of exhaust pipes came up, with obvious relish for Tucker, who wanted the pipes to be a sassy reminder to any car behind his that there was a powerhouse ahead. Read did a quick 3/4 rear-view sketch of a ‘48 with three vertical exhaust pipes emerging from the top of each rear fender. Tucker was excited and seemed to consider Read's idea evidence that he was in good hands. (A little sober reflection squelched the concept when we all realized that those pipes would make a splendid target for mischievous pedestrians walking past a parked Tucker: Plop! in goes a rock, a marble or pre-chewed gum to foul up the works.)

“The meeting lasted for several hours and Mr. Tucker spoke without let-up. He was quietly persuasive and charming and his eloquence was punctuated with malapropisms. For instance, he called the gas pedal the 'exhilerator' instead of the accelerator. Tucker held the floor most of the time, and in the end our job was clear: to style the car based upon the essentials of his mechanical concepts and upon Alex Tremulis' body layout. At no point in the meeting was there any mention of our changing the wheelbase, wheel tread, interior dimensions or even the basic body shape. The primary dimensions were inviolate, as were the tapering roof and, of course, the ‘Cyclops Eye’ in the center of the hood. At the same time, there were no constraints implied within these specifics. We were expected to go all out in our efforts.

“On the way back to our hotel that night, we carefully considered the magnitude of the task that lay ahead. We were to start, almost from scratch, on a valid and professional presentation which would involve a second clay model right alongside the one recently started by Alex Tremulis. We realized that, with each stroke of our clay tools, we would be competing with whatever evolved next door. We were the new kids on the block, and everybody would be watching us.

“Now, however, for reasons known only to himself, Tucker had interdicted this modus operandi, and Tremulis had begun the full-size clay study that we had seen in the large, open bay. Alex proved a charming host, hospitable and cooperative. He offered us an enclosed office, thankfully insulated from the cacophony of Ringling’s drop-hammer, with several drawing boards and reference tables. It was small, but well lit, and we settled in and began to get ready to work.

“One of Alex’s major contributions to the Tucker was his attention to its interior dimensions, ensuring a comfortable posture for the driver and the passengers, while harmonizing these considerations with artful exterior contours and sound engineering discipline. He seemed to appreciate the nearly complete control he had been given over the final form of the Tucker automobile - a rare privilege in a field in which stylists count themselves lucky if they see a medallion or a door pull that they created reach production unchanged.”

As the Lippincott team waited for carpenters from the Tucker pattern shop to build the wooden armature, or ‘buck’ on which they would construct their (no. 2) full-sized clay Tucker; Tremulis’ team, which included two contract designers supplied by the Chicago industrial design firm of Barnes and Reinecke, Inc.* were making steady progress on their ( No. 1) full-sized clay Tucker. 

(*Jean Reinecke began his career as a display artist at General Display Studios a St. Louis, Mo. designer of exhibits for industrial fairs and conventions. In 1930 he opened a branch office in Chicago where GDS began working on contracts for the upcoming Century of Progress (1933-1934) World’s Fair. After the Fair ended Reinecke remained in Chicago, forming Barnes & Reinecke with James Barnes; Reinecke handling design duties and Barnes handling sales. By 1938 Barnes & Reinecke’s design staff included David Painter, James Teague, Fred Priess and George Mendenhall and their clients included 3M, McGraw Electric (Toastmaster) and Polaroid. By 1947 Barnes & Reinecke boasted a staff of 375, and their clients had grown to include Caterpillar, Emerson, IT & T, Johnson & Johnson, Maytag, Union Oil, Westinghouse and Zenith. An excellent article featuring James F. Barnes and Jean O. Reinecke ‘Designs For Better Living’ appears in the April 1946 issue of Popular Mechanics.)

Egan included a very detailed description of the full-size clay modeling process in his 1989 Tucker book:

“The foundation for a clay model is the ‘armature’ or ‘buck.’ A sculptor designing a statue, bust or monument will frequently do a study in oil-based clay first. This may be carried through to finished detail and a casting made in plaster in whole or parts, or measurements made to transfer the clay model to another medium. Unless the study is very small, it cannot be solid, since clay is expensive and not structurally strong. Neck, arms and legs for a statue, for example, must be supported inside with a strong material (wire, rod or wood) - the armature. The clay often used is known as Plasticene which is perfect for the master of a plaster cast. In automotive modeling, a somewhat different clay is used, which is first heated in a container and then applied to the armature. This sulphur-based brown clay becomes very hard when cool, and can be given a finished surface smooth enough to paint for a final realistic presentation to management.

“The ‘armature’ or ‘buck’ for an automotive model is generally of wood, a hollow structure smaller than the expected automobile will be. It is usually constructed of wood lath nailed to plywood and lumber supports propped up as inconspicuously as possible. Clay is then applied, troweled on to reach the approximate anticipated shape. It is then sculpted by clay carving tools, templates, straight edges and no small amount of direct human intervention.

“The finished clay model serves the primary purpose of being ‘That’s it!’ or ‘needs work,’ (or ‘yech!’) to the assembled throng of management, marketing, sales and other executive and administrative persons who pass judgment on automobile design. If accepted, its usefulness is doubled; it becomes the master for the exterior contours of the projected vehicle.

“To accomplish this, the original buck is installed on a level platform with parallel tracks. A bridge* is installed which surrounds the model and can be moved on wheels fitted onto the tracks. Dimensions are applied alongside the tracks which match a fiducial (pointer) on the bridge so that the fore and aft positions can be logged. The bridge is fitted with holes up its sides and across the top that aim in toward and down on the model. These holes are located at dimensional increments that can also be logged. To determine a dimension, a marked rod is fitted into the holes and carefully moved toward the model just until initial contact. Thus, a reading of the cross-sectional contour of a car model at station 10 (ten inches aft of a set datum, or start) is made by setting the bridge at 10 and inserting the rod at each hole, recording the distance the rod traveled in the bridge to the point of touching the model. Longitudinal readings are made the same way, keeping the rod in the same hole, say at centerline, and incrementally moving the bridge the full length of the car - or just a fender or a hood - and repositioning the rod with each relocation of the bridge.”

(*The mechanical styling bridge mentioned above was invented by Gordon Buehrig, designer of the Auburn 851/852 Speedster, Cord 810/812 and numerous Model J Duesenbergs. Buehrig's patent is listed as a “Modeling Table” – US Pat. No. 2,341,176 - Filed Feb. 10, 1940 issued Feb. 8, 1944 to Gordon M. Buehrig assigned to Edward G. Budd Mfg. Co.

Almost immediately the Lippincott group developed a great respect for Tremulis’ personality, humor and leadership, Egan recalling:

“At our first meeting, Alex presented the air of a debonair professor, amiable but slightly constrained, cooperative and in control. Gradually, his demeanor assumed new dimensions. He was very friendly, adding an interesting bon mot* to every situation and chuckling frequently as he described the improbable state of affairs at the Tucker Corporation. His knowledge of automobiles and their design was impressive, his stories about various car projects a delight and his humor a marvelous source of entertainment. He drove a right-hand-drive Lincoln Zephyr convertible in which one or more of the Lippincott crew had occasion to ride with him.

(*a witty remark)

“Budd Steinhilber, of the New York group, recalls that on one ride, Alex ‘hunched down behind the steering wheel, and I hung out the left window, hands flailing in the air, much to the consternation of adjacent travelers who must have assumed that I was driving the car.’”

Egan continues:

“Indeed, Alex loved to tell jokes about himself, such as the time he was crossing a bridge in an open car and lit a cigarette with a prized Zippo lighter - and threw the lighter out of the car, like a spent match, into the river. His descriptions were always sparkling and vivid; he would speak of a car design that was ‘so low that you'd have to reach up onto the curb to strike a match.’

“One of Alex's major contributions to the Tucker was his attention to its interior dimensions, ensuring a comfortable posture for the driver and the passengers, while harmonizing these considerations with artful exterior contours and sound engineering discipline. He seemed to appreciate the nearly complete control he had been given over the final form of the Tucker automobile - a rare privilege in a field in which stylists count themselves lucky if they see a medallion or a door pull that they created reach production unchanged.”

As the second clay model had to fit the package* that had already been locked-in by Tremulis and Tucker, the Lippincott team’s work centered on detailing the front- and rear-end of the car. It would eventually feature the dropped center or ‘longhorn’ front bumper that Read Viemeister had sketched out prior to his arrival at the plant.

(*package refers to various dimensions and parameters that dictate the size and shape of the interior, engine compartment, etc.)

In early April Tucker once again promised the car would begin series production in “the latter part of the year,” as reported in an April 3, 1947 United Press newswire story:

“New 150-H.P. Tucker Auto To Be in Production This Year

“Chicago, April 3 - (UP) - Production of the new six-passenger Tucker Torpedo automobile is expected to get under way at Chicago the latter part of this year, according to Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker corporation.

“Peak production at the former Dodge Superfort plant probably will not be reached until next year. The peak is expected to be 1,000 cars a day.

“Regarding the price, Tucker says only that the car will sell in the medium price class. It will have a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour.

“The six-cylinder Torpedo will operate on regular gasoline and is expected to get 35 miles to the gallon at moderate driving speeds. Its tooling system will enable it to function in any part of the habitable world, Tucker said.

“The car will have a 128-inch wheelbase and will weigh less than 3,000 pounds. It will be one of the lowest passenger cars ever built. The front tread will be 60 inches, the rear 65 inches.

“150-Horspower Engine

“The 150-horsepower engine will be mounted directly between the rear wheels, about 60 per cent of this weight being carried by the rear wheels, the power of application and 40 per cent by the front wheels.

“A stressed airplane type frame will give the body both safety and comfort, Tucker says.

“Additional safety factors include a windshield panel so designed that in case of serious accident the impact from inside will knock the safety glass completely out of the frame, preventing injury from crashing through the glass.

“The window will have case-hardened glass that pulverizes into coarse gravel-like particles when broken, instead of shattering.

“Another major departure from conventional automotive engineering is the completely new 150-horsepower airplane type engine, with block and head made from a single aluminum casting.

“Weight Reduced

“Tucker says that by using aluminum for basic components, the weight of the engine will be reduced approximately 100 pounds under the weight of conventional automobile engines with comparable horsepower.

“He said that because block and piston have the same coefficient of expansion the Torpedo engine should give trouble-free service three times as long as is generally expected from the ordinary engine with a cast-iron or steel-sleeved block. Gauges, instruments and electrical controls will be in full view and literally in the driver’s hands, since they will be mounted in the center of the steering wheel instead of being obscured by it.

“Major operating parts of the Torpedo are designed for at least 100,000 miles of continuous use without attention, Tucker says. Where bearings are used, they are sealed with a lubricant within.”

Egan recalled that it wasn't until mid-March that the Lippincott team started working on their full-sized clay model:

“Fourteen days or more would pass before we would be able to sculpt in clay. Carpenters first had to build an armature, or ‘buck,’ upon which the clay could be applied. During this period, we ran off reams of sketches and numerous renderings to illustrate our proposals. We had ideas boiling over, just waiting to get onto paper or board. Meanwhile, fabrication of the handmade prototype continued. The pace slackened, awaiting the completion of the two clay models, although some fundamental structural decisions were still made and incorporated into the metal.

“Tremulis and his crew were building the no. 1 model in the image of the March 2 advertisement, while we were exploring front and rear end treatments. It was not long before Preston Tucker began regular visits to discuss our sketches and renderings and to monitor the progress of the buck. At this point, we began to fully comprehend what unusual conditions prevailed in the design area. Inside our studio, we enjoyed a definite degree of security; for now, we were free from the gaze of curious passersby, but this situation would endure only until the day we started on the no. 2 clay model. Then, unlike any design team we had ever seen or heard of, we would be out in the open for everyone in the development hangar to come and have a look at what we were doing. And if we knew anything about human nature, their curiosity would not be accompanied by silence, either at the time of their visit or later, when they spread the word to their compatriots about what the New York gang was doing.

“Fortunately, Alex and Tucker Madawick were both expert hands in the techniques of clay model bucks, platforms and bridges. Read had acquired firsthand experience at Graham-Paige on an earlier Lippincott project there. Hal Bergstrom, our project manager, proved to be just the right balance of scout master and hands-on participant. Madawick alternately sketched valid concepts and brooded over the poor quality of the clay with which we were going to have to work, the problems of heating the clay properly and how the entire setup compared (unfavorably, of course) to his experiences at Ford. And I, absolutely enthralled by it all, was constantly congratulating myself for having the good luck to be smack dab in the midst of a revolutionary automobile design project. Actually, there wasn't a phlegmatic personality in sight.

“Soon, a contiguous thread began to emerge, one which seemed to have promise. We were designing a car at a time when the proliferation of chromium and stainless steel trim was an obvious trend; yet we agreed that its fundamental shape should be the key to the Tucker’s identity.

“Within the confines of our charter, shape could not include drastic changes in the mid-body of the vehicle; in the front and rear, however, there could be dramatic breakthroughs. According to Preston Tucker’s instructions, the Tucker ‘48 should present a striking visage as it approached and a dramatic impression as it passed; this stimulated us to experiment with boxy shapes, rounded rear ends and elliptical contours, all the while avoiding excess trim. It wasn’t easy at that time.

“Nor was the challenge made any easier by the news that Alex and the Tucker engineers had not yet answered a particularly crucial question: 'Where would the radiator reside?' They did not know if it was going to be in the front or the rear of the vehicle. They had no concrete evidence, no wind tunnel tests upon which to base a decision - absolutely no empirical data. They did have plenty of ideas, some of them quite exotic, like the one that called for a fin-and-coil radiator at the lower front of the car with cooling hoses running in the rocker panels, conveying coolant to and from the engine in the rear; or another that called for the radiator to be located in the rear in the engine compartment, with air intakes in the forward edges of the rear fenders. If the latter were done, the radiator would probably be placed aft of the engine up against a grille at the extreme end of the car.

“It would be some time before the final returns were in on this issue, but we were to be prepared for either eventuality. In the meanwhile, Preston Tucker insisted that the flowing lines of the vehicle could not be disturbed; a flat front end to capture air for a forward radiator was definitely taboo, as were air scoops to direct the breeze toward a radiator in the rear. Further, we were told that the front end could not be bulbous above the bumper line and that the sharp cleavage of the Lawson and Tremulis designs had to be retained.

“Our area alongside the Tremulis Tucker was certainly no studio. The gray walls and concrete floors of the plant lent a construction site feeling to the surroundings. Natural light came in through high windows, and artificial light came from white reflectors surrounding floodlight bulbs in the ceiling. We immediately asked the carpenters to erect portable partitions as backdrops, about six feet high, on which we could pin our sketches and renderings to lend color and practical reference material to the proceedings.

“Tucker Madawick had devised a simple wooden box with light bulbs inside to heat and soften the clay. His worries about the quality of the clay were well-founded. It was not first-class material; It was too soft, and its color was more gray than the vivid brown he had been accustomed to at Ford. But it was what we had, and we accepted it, hoping that it would harden enough to provide a good surface upon which to carve.

Egan also detailed the various tools of the clay modeling trade and how they were used:

“The clay tools used in automotive design are big brothers to those used in sculpting a bust or a bird. Some large clay tools can be purchased as-is, in art stores, but often it’s necessary to make tools for large surfaces by adapting hacksaw blades or straight edges of plastic or wood to individual requirements. Ideally, it is useful to have ‘sweeps’ of plastic or metal which have been cut accurately to very large radii - several hundred inches. This is advisable because the sheet metal of an automobile will tend to ‘oil can’ (flex in and out when pressed against) if it does not have sufficient convex (outward) shape. This is not easy to avoid in sculpting large areas, such as a roof top, by eye. Good sweeps will act as a control of this problem. We had a bare minimum of such frills. We all felt a little like the cartoon character of the sculptor in his studio, standing before a block of granite, a simple chisel and hammer in hand, saying ‘smile’ to his model standing nearby. However, it didn’t take more than a few days before we had a basic shape to sculpt.”

It was now April; and the Lippincott team had been putting in from 50-60 hours per week, with a one-day break each Sunday. Although they sometimes took taxicabs, Philip S. Egan recalled that more often than not they were chauffeured between the plant and Southmoor Hotel by the son of motorcycle and Indy car driver *Ralph R. Hepburn:

“Our daily commute from our quarters in the Southmoor to our compact studio in the vast reaches of the Tucker Corporation plant was sometimes by taxi or often by a company car chauffeured by the son of Ralph Hepburn (Hepburn Sr. was one of the most distinguished race car drivers in history). Through interesting conversations with this young man whose acquaintance with cars probably began the day he first learned to recognize words, we began our immersion into the world of the automobile.”

(*One slight problem with Egan’s account is that Hepburn did not have a son - or at least not officially - his 1924 marriage to Ida Mae ‘Sparky’ K...? resulted in the birth of only one child, a daughter named Joanne who was born in 1933.)

Regardless of who Egan’s driver was, Hepburn was a close personal friend of Tucker’s and served as a Tucker Corp. consultant and its west coast sales manager. Hepburn, who lived in Los Angeles, often visited Tucker headquarters and on a number of occasions chaired meetings with such racing notables as Rex Mays, Johnny Parsons and Mauri Rose where racing strategy, safety regulations or Indy politics were discussed.

Tragically Hepburn's life was taken on May 16, 1948 while testing his Tucker-sponsored Novi in preparation for his 16th Indianapolis 500. His death hit Preston T. Tucker hard and brought with it an immediate end to Tucker Corp.’s racing program.

Egan also recalled the periodic visits of the boss, who was most often accompanied by an entourage of Tucker dealers or executives:

“Preston still visited the site several times a week, dressed in his three-piece suit, often wearing a homburg and sporting a cane with which he loved to point at some feature of the model. He was frequently accompanied by an entourage of Corporation associates, plus signed-up and would-be dealers. Some of these visits were simply tours for the dealers’ edification; other were genuine decision- making stages in the design of the no. 2 clay model. Tucker and his retinue would arrive, and we would refer to the drawings on the backdrop and then to the area of the car which corresponded. Budd always thought of it as picking from a Chinese menu, dish after dish, idea after idea.

“Tremulis told Pearson that they had it ready for paint in 100 days, or sometime in early April. However, it took more than a design and body shape to make a working prototype, and work on the Tin Goose’s flat-6 air-cooled engine, automatic drivetrain and fully independent suspension would continue up until the final moments before Tucker introduced the car to the public on June 19, 1947.

“Gordon Lippincott came to Chicago shortly after we had finished the fully shaped clay study and was obviously pleased with our progress. ‘In a matter of weeks, you guys had gone from sheets of paper on the walls to pushing clay,’ he told me later. Gordon brought some periodical photos of a Convair XB-46 twin-jet light bomber which had just been test-flown. The air intakes were elliptical in shape, very avant-garde, and he thought that the theme might be worth trying on the front end of our clay model. We absorbed his photos and set to work, adding globs of clay to the front end to support the concept. Roughed out, the idea did, indeed, have merit, but then a funny thing happened. Preston Tucker came by, drank in the whole concept and very politely said that it did not abide by his intentions. In his view, the front end must include the ‘Cyclops Eye’ at top center and provide for air intake at the bumper level, period, end paragraph. So much for elliptical excursions. In fact, Gordon expressed the opinion that the ‘Cyclops Eye’ was alone enough to make the Tucker unique. Perhaps he didn't know of the long history of center-mounted headlights in Europe; or perhaps he was simply a practical businessman who knew that, ultimately, the client had to be satisfied.

“Still, Tucker’s idea of a fixed circular headlight lens behind which a General Electric sealed-beam headlamp would pivot with the steering seemed non sequitur. Why not design a panoramic lens which would transmit the rays of the headlamp evenly while announcing its purpose? We began studies of this idea, blending the rest of the front end into a graceful shape above the bumper-level grille prescribed by Preston T. We also worked in earnest on the bumper/grille to make the entire front end an integrated image. This exercise evolved into two weeks of steady work in which our meager crew was dispersed all around the clay model. At the end of this time we had a complete car, quite rough in spots, but an expression of an entire design theme.

“The air intake on the rear fender looked like prewar styling (‘needs work,’ we said to one another). The rear end began to look good; many of Read’s and Hal’s ideas were clearly evident and succeeding with distinction. The exhaust pipes had moved to the top of the bumper, and Preston now had that sassy rear end, replete with an abundant grille to take in or let out cooling air - in the event that the radiator was going to be in the rear. But Tucker firmly vetoed the panoramic lens in what almost amounted to a confrontation. He claimed that the horizontal spread of the lens would not permit the boat-like prow he had envisioned. So, we cut back on each side of the hood so far that the wooden buck underneath had to be excised to allow the penetration. After this fairly radical surgery, we applied fresh clay and sculpted the new shape - and installed a sealed-beam headlight front and center. Still, our front end grille failed to excite him, and so back to the drawing board we went.

“Final preparation of a clay model includes polishing the surface of the clay, applying aluminum foil to surfaces intended to be brightwork and finishing it off with paint and other details. By this time, how- ever, it was April, and the unpredictable Chicago weather had inflicted a heat wave upon the non-air-conditioned Tucker factory. Our clay began to sag. Hundreds of pounds of the stuff, painstakingly ladled onto the buck, had begun to move, and the completed surfaces refused to respond to polishing. We tried turpentine as a glossing agent, but the sagging continued. Then, in a moment of inspiration, we called the Tucker Corporation fire department. ‘Bring over your CO2 truck quick!’ we said. The firemen weren't particularly busy, except for occasional drills, and they probably enjoyed a genuine call, but the odd nature of the request did not escape them. Still, bring it over they did and, despite their misgivings, expended cylinder after cylinder of carbon dioxide onto the clay, successfully curing the sags. From then on, whenever it was too warm in the development bay, we sprayed our magic nostrum on any surface ready to be polished - or about to sag.

“Even as we completed the clay, many of our original sketches and renderings still hung on the studio and partition walls. We frequently referred back to them, sometimes adding new ideas and other times removing old ones. The rear fender air intake had been refined; the rear quarter window had been swept back to provide more visibility; the door handle ideas were now being represented; and subtle changes to the trailing edge of the front fender had been suggested. One rendering always stayed, however: it was the one which Read had done in New York of the steer-horn front bumper. Oddly enough, it just kept hanging on.

“Tucker knew that he had to get the metal prototype completed in the shortest time possible in order to maintain the public’s interest and to keep the money coming in. He had set his sights on presenting a completed and running Tucker ‘48 in early summer. Work on the metal prototype had still continued, but the tempo had gone from allegro to adagio since we had entered the scene, with smaller and smaller portions being given to Ringling and his crew. As Preston T., his engineers and Alex all accepted one part or another of the no. 1 or no. 2 clay models as final, that particular shape was measured from the clay and translated into sheet-metal.

“Now, however, there was a new stir of activity in the plant, and the reasons for the sudden urgency were revealed to Hal Bergstrom on Monday, April 21. Tucker called a meeting of the 15 key persons responsible for making the design a reality. He had decided to mobilize a crash program to assemble six cars, with the first of them ‘on wheels, painted, trimmed and out of here Saturday night. . . . The whole cockeyed nation is watching us,’ he said, adding, ‘We better stick to the fender on the no. 1 clay model. I want that straight line on that fender.’

“It was as if a skipper had, alone, become aware of having passed the point of no return in a voyage. Why Preston Tucker chose this particular time to propose such a monumental undertaking has never been revealed. Perhaps he knew that it was impossible, but believed that his demand would spur us all into achievements which he could not otherwise expect. Incidentally, we never did find out which straight line on the fender he was referring to.

“The two clay models were almost complete. Model no. 1 was very close to the March 2 newspaper rendering except for the rear fender air intakes, which were still being worked out. The no. 2 model was-just short of climax. Some of its trim was extraneous and the front grille still lacked the dramatic touch that the Tucker ‘48 demanded. But both were very convincing Tuckers. Like two thoroughbreds racing toward the finish line, their moment of reckoning was drawing near, and at that moment, all that was missing was the hungry roar of the crowd.

“Everyone, particularly Preston T., knew that there could be only one design for the Tucker ‘48, regardless of whether it was all no. 1 or all no. 2 or a combination of both. The two competing projects had become increasingly interdependent. Alex didn't ignore what we were doing and made many suggestions which helped us. We, in turn, contributed a few ideas to him; certainly a just aid to a worthy compatriot. A constrained, delicate and very successful rear fender air intake on the no. 1 clay model was one of the results of this cooperative effort. Ultimately, it was Alex's accomplishment, but Read and Budd contributed ideas which helped him carry it off.

“Still, all of us in the Lippincott crew wanted to go all out. We knew that the constraints of our original charter from Preston Tucker did not allow such a departure. However, it seemed only logical that, as long as we were in Chicago, we be given the opportunity to depict the very best Tucker car we could offer. Why not, we thought, while finishing the Lippincott model, convert one side of it to a post-48 design, perhaps a Tucker ‘50 or ‘52?

“Preston T. did not object to the idea, and we translated many of our most avant-garde sketches into clay. We were, of course, still concerned with the final 1948 front grille. Fine tuning was essential. A last look at every line, every curve, every detail, became paramount. We revived that long-dormant steer-horn bumper and carefully sculpted it into the front end of what we finally presented as the Tucker ‘48 and the Tucker ‘52.

“The day of presentation to Preston Tucker was not consummated with photographs and trumpets. It just happened. Preston T. arrived to view the results of months of work, the two finished full-size models (actually representing three designs with the dual-faced Lippincott specimen) which had been brought into being by his wish, his drive and his confidence in his mission. He beamed at us all with his big brown eyes. He walked around both models, obviously pleased. He took one look at our steer-horn front end and said, ‘That’s it!’ But he would not indicate further what he would choose as the final design, in whole or in part. We had a general idea of what portions of the no. 1 and no. 2 models he liked, but we had no clear composite in our minds of what he would determine by fiat to be the ultimate Tucker. I’m not even sure that he knew at that moment. He seemed to like the steer-horn bumper, most of the front end and the rear grille of the Lippincott model. Our sweptback rear quarter window, rear fender air intake and small details such as our hood ornament were in limbo. The ‘52 left side was definitely ‘Not now, maybe later.’

“There was no fanfare, no champagne, no ceremony. Alex Tremulis had been working on this project for 125 days, at least, we for 53. The consequences of what we all had done now devolved upon Preston Tucker. He was very complimentary and obviously eager to have the metal prototype completed, but made no mention at all of the six-car crash program. It was not six days but six weeks before the finished prototype revealed what his design choices actually were.

“Alex Tremulis was primarily responsible for guiding the fabrication of the metal prototype. It was he who named it the ‘Tin Goose,’ and he became privy to Preston Tucker’s decisions regarding those portions of the no. 1 and no. 2 clay models that would be first shown to the public. The logistics of this were mind-boggling. Alex had to coordinate his colleagues in sheet-metal forming, body engineering, engine and drivetrain design, interior furnishings, instrumentation/controls and painting to produce a final product to the satisfaction of the boss. It had to be beautiful, it had to be convincing and it had to run.”

Egan contributed some exterior details of the car, but was mostly responsible for the functional parts of the interior: dashboard, door handles, etc. The instrument panel he created was minimalist and compact, giving the driver concise information in streamlined form. This was not the norm in the late 1940s when most dashboards were overly ornate and laden with large chrome bezels and faux wood surfaces.

Like the exterior, the Tucker’s interior was designed for safety. Egan conceived a steering wheel that had just a single spoke radiating from its center instead of the usual two or three: this would reduce the impact on the driver’s chest in a crash. Egan recalled:

“One of Mr. Tucker's very positive concerns was related to automobile safety in a crash. There was to be no dashboard to smash against for a passenger in the right front seat. He insisted that his cars have crash padding and pop-out windshields. Oddly, he did not require seat belts.

“But Mr. Tucker's concern for safety was not inclusive. For example, I designed an energy-absorbing steering wheel that Mr. Tucker did not approve. Instead, Mr. Tucker had another wheel designed to his specifications.

“Mr. Tucker's steering wheel was based on a design being used in the Cadillac and it had a very unsafe, protruding, center-of-the-wheel hub.”

But the Tucker Corporation, pressed for time, wound up using a third option, as none of the wheels could be produced in time to be ready for the pilot run of Tuckers. Instead they were equipped with Lincoln Zephyr steering wheels, sourced by Tremulis through a friend at the Ford Motor Co.

Tremulis recalled the hectic pace required to complete the ‘Tin Goose’:

“Once assembled, the Tucker team pounded metal, welded frames, un-welded them, made mistakes, corrected them, scrapped everything, started again from scratch. Sundays or Tuesdays, it made no difference, when each of us was working 400 to 440 hours a month! One of our men collapsed. In a panic, we rushed him to the hospital. Two hours later, I was called to the telephone—to hear the voice of an angry doctor remonstrating me: "What on earth are you people doing over there? There's nothing wrong with this man pathologically. He's just suffering from malnutrition and complete exhaustion." I used to look at Herman Ringling, then in his early sixties, and think he would never live to see the car completed. But he made it. We all did—not in sixty days, as Preston had wished, but in a hundred, which was remarkable, even so. When the Tin Goose rolled out in its pearlescent maroon, we knew we had a winner. It was worth the sweat and tears we had shed in making it. Call Preston Tucker what you will, he was a prime mover, the force that motivated us all. No one will ever convince me that Tucker wasn't trying to build an automobile!”

Tucker Corp. registered their upcoming public stock offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 6, 1947, the Associated Press reporting:

“Manufacturer Cars Registers

“Philadelphia, May 6 (AP) - Tucker Corp., the nation's youngest auto manufacturer, today registered with the securities and exchange commission 4,000,000 shares of $1 par value class A common stock for its first public offering.

“The Chicago firm placed a $5 a share price and a 70 cents a share underwriting commission on the offering which will be under-written by Floyd D. Cerf Co., Chicago.

“The company, organized July 8, 1946, by Preston Tucker, said that the first model of its car described as ‘a departure from the conventional passenger automobile built in the industry up to the present time,’ is expected to be completed ‘on or about May 15.’

“‘While both mechanical and body design features are generally agreed upon,’ the company said, ‘a pilot model has neither been completed nor tested.’

“Six models are under construction, the company added.

“The Tucker will be a four-door, six passenger automobile with 128-inch wheel base and with an overall weight of under 3000 pounds to sell in the medium bracket, the registration statement announced.

“The company has outstanding 1,000,000 shares of 10 cents par value class B common stock which were issued in exchange for shares previously sold to Preston Tucker for $100,000 cash.”

On June 9, 1947 Ned Brooks a staff writer for the Scripps-Howard News Service (SHNS) published the first of two articles detailing Tuckers dealings with the WAA:

“Federal Agency Gambles Factory Rent on Success Of Private Auto Venture

“By Ned Brooks SHNS Staff Writer

“Washington, June 9. - The War Assets Administration has staked the world’s biggest manufacturing plant on the success of Preston Thomas Tucker's invasion of the automobile industry. In his nine-months occupancy of the $170 million giant plant in suburban Chicago, Mr. Tucker has paid the Government $750 in cash. This was tor two months’ rent of five WAA-owned automobiles.

“All other charges for rent, use of machinery and consumption of materials have been on the cuff ‘accruing,’ according to WAA. Details of the extraordinary deal by which WAA installed the newly formed Tucker Corp. as its No. 1 star boarder were obtained by The Scripps-Howard Newspapers In inquiries in Washington and Chicago.

“U.S.A. Partner

“The examination shows how WAA has provided the firm with a modern, expensively equipped factory under terms which would be the envy of any industrial newcomer. The Government in effect has become a partner in the enterprise and the risk is all on its side. The inquiry reveals also that the WAA real property board approved the Tucker transaction over vigorous objection of its top executive in the WAA regional office in Chicago, who challenged Preston Tucker’s ability to fulfill his end of the bargain. This official also questioned whether the Government should lend its prestige to the firm's proposed $20 million stock sale and its plan to realize another $12 million in the sale of distributor and dealer franchises. (Details of the inner-WAA dispute over the deal will be told in a subsequent article.)

“Defends Deal.

“While WAA defends this deal on the ground that the plant was one of its ‘white elephants’ for which no buyer would lay out cash, Senator Homer Ferguson, Michigan Republican, says the lease involves ‘the use of $170 million of Government property to permit Preston Tucker to experiment.’ An investigating committee headed by Senator Ferguson quietly has been assembling data on the transaction.

“The plant located in Cicero, about 15 miles from Chicago’s loop, was operated by Dodge-Chrysler during the war for making B-29 plane engines. Its main building, a half mile long, covers 85 acres, making it the world’s largest factory under one roof. The plant itself cost $70 million, its machinery and equipment, another $100 million. It ceased operations on V-J day in August, 1945.

“Tucker’s background

“The new occupant, Mr. Tucker, is 45 years old. He has been a salesman of new and used cars, a worked in the Ford plant, official of a brewing company, auto sales agency, manager and partner in the designing and building of racing cars.

“Mr. Tucker took official possession of the Dodge-Chrysler plant on Sept. 18, 1946, under authority of a ‘letter of intent’ entered into with the real property disposal branch of the WAA. Actually, he began moving in two months earlier under an agreement with the Reconstruction Finance Corp., whose subsidiary, Defense Plant Corp., financed the plant and held title to it.

“Mr. Tucker describes his proposed product as ‘the first completely new car in 50 years’ = an engine-in-rear job with low body, airplane type brakes, a new-style wheel suspension, ‘flowing power’ transmission, a ‘safety chamber’ for protecting riders in crashes and other innovations.

“Produces One Car

“The original name ‘Tucker Torpedo’ has been discarded in favor of ‘Tucker ’48,’ but the claim of 100 mile-an-hour cruising speed still stands. So far, one hand-built cars has been produced. But Tucker Corp. has fixed its goal at 1,000 assembly-line cars daily for some time in 1948, a figure which would install Preston Tucker among the leaders of the industry. The firm is shooting for a delivered price of around $1,800.

“WAA turned over the plant to Mr. Tucker without a dime changing hands. AWW officials admit they took a gamble on Mr. Tucker’s expectation of raising money through his stock sale and dealership contracts, on his experience with Harry Miller, designer of race cars, on his patents and on his showing that men with experience in the automotive industry had joined his organization.

“Explains deal

“Brig. Gen. John J. O’Brien, who headed the WAA real property board when the deal was closed, but who since has resigned, explains it this way:

“‘Tucker was the only bidder who came into the picture. We were required to give preference to new enterprise. The plant is a drug on the market unless somebody like Tucker can go in there and operate it.

“Other WAA officials explain that the disposal law gives first preference to new industry and small business. Critics admit that Preston Tucker qualified on both counts. His company was new, having been incorporated less than a week before the first deal was closed with the RFC. Also, they point out, he was ‘small business,’ having virtually no capital when WAA accepted his bid.

“Turns Aside Criticism

“Tucker Corp. officials take such criticism in stride, saying that any new enterprise is certain to draw the fire of established competitors.

“Under the original terms, Mr. Tucker would have to pay $1 million by Oct. 1, 1946. He posted the first $25,000 last July 12, and presented a check for $150,000 a month later. About that time, according to General O’Brien, WAA became convinced that Mr. Tucker would be unable to raise the required sum, and thereupon refunded what he had put up.

“This resulted in the agreement of last September 18 – the one under which the Tucker Corp. now occupies the plant. This waives the payment of any rent until July 1, and fixes the rental thereafter at $500,000 a year for the first two years and $2.4 million a year for the remaining eight years of the lease.

“Alternate Deal

“Or, if the Government chooses, it can assess the rent after the second year at three per cent of the corporation’s gross sales. The ceiling on the rent in any year is $4 million, and any excess over $2.4 million can be applied by Tucker Corp. to its purchase of the plant, if it decides to exercise its option.

“Tucker Corp. can buy the $70 million, exclusive of equipment, for $30 million, pay $6 million in cash and settle the balance over 15 more years.”

The June 30th deadline was quickly approaching and Tucker's nemesis, U.S. Senator Homer S. Ferguson, made sure everyone involved knew about it, the June 11, 1947 Associated Press newswire reporting:

“Million In Rent Due From Auto Maker

“Washington, June 10 (AP) - Senator Ferguson (R., Mich.) said today he assumes the War Assets Administration will collect the rental due June 30 from auto manufacturer Preston Tucker or evict him from his Chicago plant.

“Ferguson told a reporter that Tucker, occupying the huge plant used by Chrysler-Dodge during the war to make plane engines, had paid ‘only a few hundred dollars’ to the WAA in rental. WAA officials said that Tucker will owe $1,000,000 on June 30.

“Earlier Senator Ferguson (R., Mich.) had told a reporter that Brig. Gen. James A. Mollison, assistant WAA director, had informed him that Tucker would have to ‘put up or shut up’ on June 30.”

The very next day - June 12, 1947 - the Securities and Exchange Commission announced they were holding a public hearing in regards to a possible stop order proceeding against Tucker Corp.'s proposed $20 million stock offering, the Associate Press reporting:

“SEC Probes Tucker Auto Stock Sale

“Philadelphia - (AP) - Preston Tucker, the nation’s newest automobile manufacturer, was summoned to Philadelphia next Monday to answer Securities and Exchange Commission charges of ‘untrue statements’ in the Tucker Corp.’s proposed stock sale.

“The company, organized last July to build a new medium priced car, planned to raise funds through the sale of $20,000,000 in common stock.

“Under the plan, Tucker would have used parts of the proceeds on ‘an initial payment of plant rental due July 1.’

“The SEC questioned adequacy of the statement.

“Meanwhile, the War Assets Administration announced in Washington it has scaled its first year rental charge on the huge Chrysler-Dodge plant at Chicago down from $1,000,000 to $500,000.

“It was ‘the agency’s own error,’ said a WAA official in commenting on the jumbled affairs surrounding the leasing of the $170,000,000 wartime plane engine plant to Tucker.

“The SEC’s hearing will determine whether there will be a stop-order proceeding, which would halt all sale of Tucker stock. The commission said Tucker’s statement for 4,000,000 shares of Class A common stock ‘appears to include untrue statements of material facts.’

“In addition to the plant rental issue, the SEC questioned the adequacy of statements dealing with use of the proceeds; indirect payments to promoters, name or names of the parent company and the payment of public relations employees.”

Tucker's hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, provided some additional details the following morning:

“Stock Issue To Be Cleared, Tucker Insists

“Will Build Chicago Auto, He Says

“‘We are going to build an automobile in Chicago,’ Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker corporation, said yesterday when notified that the Securities and Exchange Commission had instituted stop order proceedings against the company’s stock registration or 4 million shares of $1 par common stock.

The SEC's action today does not constitute a stop order and we believe after the amendment to our registration statement has been filed it will he cleared by SEC and we can continue our program to bring a new automobile to tile American public,’ Tucker said.

“Expects to Answer SEC

“He predicted the amendment would answer all of the 17 questions raised by the commission described the registration, filed May 6, as apparently including ‘untrue statements of material facts.’ Tucker said the corporation would appear at Monday’s hearing which was ordered by the SEC to investigate the statement and determine whether a stop order should be issued.

“A stop order forbidding the sale of the stock would be a serious set-back to the company and would virtually compel it to obtain some sort of private financing, possibility of which already has been discussed, it was said.

“The proceeds from the projected stock offering were to have been an integral part of the company’s capital structure. The money, amounting to approximately 20 million dollars, was to have been used for machinery and working capital and to demonstrate that the company could get into production in its large plant, a government property used in the war for production of aircraft engines.

“Requirements of the lease on the plant, arranged through the War Assets Administration, provide that Tucker show he has 15 million dollars by July 1 to finance his undertaking.

“Must Pay Rentals

“He also will be required to pay rentals of $500,000 annually the first two years for the plant, said to be the largest manufacturing facility in the world under one roof. WAA officials in Washington Tuesday said the figure would be 1 million dollars, but yesterday said this was all a mistake. Tucker has been threatened with eviction if he does not meet these terms.

“The stop order notice made these specific assertions:

“1. The company failed to disclose that false entries have been made in the books of account for the purpose of concealing indirect payments to promoters.

“2. Failed to disclose the past and present relationship of H.A. Karsten, formerly known as A.H. Karatz, with the corporation and Tucker. The SEC alleged there was failure to disclose that indirectly Karsten received a distributorship for automobiles in California for $1, has received cash payments from Tucker and the company totaling approximately $2,000 a month, and has been promised 10 per cent of the class B common stock of the company for services performed.

“Public Relations Payments

“3. Failed to disclose gross payments to Russell, Tripp & Neuwirth, Inc., public relations firm.

“4. The company failed to disclose its parent or parents and to what extent Tucker is interested in Ypsilanti Machine and Tool company and Cumberland Homes. Inc.*

“5. Failed to disclose correct beneficial stock holdings of Charles Pearson, Kenneth E. Lyman, Cumberland Homes, Ypsilanti Machine, Tucker, and Karsten, and whether all such shares are held in a voting trust.”

(*Cumberland Homes Inc., which would receive 40,000 shares of Tucker stock, had recently been organized by Preston T. Tucker and Eugene H. Cowles, president of Cowles Co. Inc.,a Chicago engineering firm involved in prefabricated housing.)

On June 12, 1947 Ned Brooks, a staff writer for the Scripps-Howard News Service (SHNS), published the second of two articles detailing Tucker’s dealings with the WAA and the SEC:

“Non-Paying Tenant Paid For Guarding U.S. Plant

“By Ned Brooks SHNS Staff Writer

“Chicago, June 12 - Preston Tucker is serving as the Government’s custodial agent for the world’s biggest war plant at the same time he is occupying the property as a non-paying tenant, it developed today.

“This dual role of Tucker Corp. is part of the arrangement under which the War Assets Administration has staked $170 million worth of plant and equipment at Chicago on the infant firm’s success in the automobile industry.

“Nothing From Tenant

“Not only does WAA get nothing from Tucker Corp. for its use of the plant and machinery, but it is reimbursing the firm at the rate of about $75,000 a month under two contracts for plant protection, maintenance and warehousing. These contracts give Tucker Corp. the responsibility for watching over millions of dollars worth of Government-owned equipment which the firm has the right to rent or buy. WAA inventories of the equipment still are incomplete.

“This newest Tucker-WAA tie-up came to light as the company hit a snag in its plan to finance future operations through a $20 million stock sale to the public.

“Stock Sale Stopped

“The Securities & Exchange Commission in Philadelphia yesterday began stop-order proceedings against the sale, charging that Tucker Corp. had made false statements in its registration statement and had omitted pertinent facts. SEC summoned Tucker officials to Philadelphia for a public hearing starting next Monday.

“If SEC prohibits sale of the stock it could jeopardize Mr. Tucker's occupancy of the Chicago plant. His agreement with WAA, requires him to show $15 million in new capital by July 1 and the stock issue was intended to meet this requirement. WAA officials have said that Tucker Corp will get no further ex tension if it fails to meet the terms on schedule.

“Opposed Contracts

“SEC said the company had failed to identify all promoters, adding that false entries had concealed indirect payments to promoters. The two contracts given Tucker Corp. by WAA for protection, maintenance and warehousing have been in effect since April 1. They were approved by WAA headquarters in Washington, it was learned, over the opposition of two high officials of the WAA regional office.

“One of these was Sterry Long, who resigned a few days ago as assistant director in charge of staff. The other was Robert Randolph, assistant director for operations and acting director of the region for a period after Stanley B. Adams was moved back to Washington, reportedly because of his adverse report on the Tucker transaction.

“Previous Cost

“WAA officials say protection and warehousing were turned over to Tucker Corp. when it claimed friction arose from the earlier system under which outside firms held the contracts. Previously, the protection and maintenance contract had been held by the Patrick Warren Construction Co., which received a $2800-a-month fee, plus expenses. The warehousing contract was held by Warehousing Associates Inc., which got a $2000-a-month fee, plus expenses.

“Tucker Corp. agreed to take the contracts at a $1 fee plus expenses. Claude A. Welles, WAA zone office deputy, says expenses have declined under the Tucker management, with the additional saving in the fixed fees.

“Big Payroll

“Under the two contracts, Tucker Corp. employs about 500 persons, about 80 of whom were added recently to help complete the inventory of plant equipment ordered by WAA. The Government reimburses Tucker Corp. for their pay. That adds up to $75,000.

“On its own account, Tucker Corp. employs between 250 and 300 persons.

“Mr. Welles Insists WAA can keep track of which employees work for Mr. Tucker as the Government’s custodial agent, and which ones for Mr. Tucker, the automobile manufacturer. Each employee’s time, he explains, is kept on work slips which show the nature of his assignment. He admits that the time of some employees is divided between company and Government duties but says all of this is recorded on the time tickets.”

The SEC hearing commenced on Monday June 16, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reporting:

“Tucker Corp. Files Amended Form as SEC Inquiry Opens

“Philadelphia, Pa. - (AP) – Preston Tucker, president of the nation’s ‘infant’ automobile manufacturing firm, was present Monday as the Securities and Exchange Commission began a public investigation of the Tucker Corp.’s proposed stock sale to the public. The commission has accused the 11-month old Chicago corporation of making false statements and omitting certain material facts in a registration statement filed last May 6 covering 4,000,000 shares of Class A common stock.

“Less than an hour before the hearing began, the company gave the SEC an amended registration statement. J.T. Welsh, company counsel, declared, ‘we believe the amended statement should and will answer all questions the commission asked to have answered.’ Welsh urged the agency to base the hearing on the new registration and declared time is of the essence.’

“The SEC’s action is a ‘stop order proceeding’ and if it proves its accusations of false statements or shows the company has not supplied all required information in its amended statement, the SEC has the authority to prohibit the stock sale until the facts are disclosed.

“Tucker told a reporter, ‘I don’t know how long this hearing will last. I know I should be in Chicago making cars.’ The world preview of his new car, a four door, six passenger, 3,000 pound car with a 150 horsepower airplane type engine, will be held Thursday in Chicago, he added.

“The amended registration statement disclosed that the Tucker corporation is seeking a new agreement with the War Assets Administration on its lease of the Chicago Dodge-Chrysler plant. The company said last May 9 it offered the WAA a certified check for $500,000 but the check has not been accepted or rejected.

“First witness called by SEC Atty. James P. Goode was Glen E. Martin, partner in the Chicago accounting firm which audited the company’s financial statements contained in the registration statement.

“Martin testified that Tucker paid $100,000 for 100,000 shares of $1 par Class B stock which subsequently were exchanged for 1,000,000 of Class B shares with a 10¢ par value.

“‘Where did he get the $100,000?’ Goode demanded.

“‘I don’t know,’ Martin replied.

“Goode pointed out that the same day Tucker paid out the money for the shares of stock, Tucker was paid a like amount of cash by the corporation for services and in satisfaction of claims aggregating $113,000 which were disposed of by the Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Co.; Robert Pierce, one of the founders; Hanson A. Brown, executive vice president and secretary, and Wilfred G. Gerrard, district sales manager.

“‘Did Mr. Tucker pay any cash to Ypsilanti and the three individuals for assignment of the claims (to Tucker)?’ Goode asked.

“‘Insofar as I know, no cash was paid to Tucker,’ Martin answered.

“Further quizzing of Martin disclosed that Tucker had received approximately $134,000 from the corporation up to April 21, including salary, expenses, claims assignment, and a $21,000 payment in settlement of cash expenditures made by Tucker for benefit of the corporation.”

Preston T. Tucker appeared before the SEC commissioners the following day, as reported by the  Associated Press on June 17, 1947:

“Tucker Car Head Appears Before SEC

“Insists ‘Free Enterprise Is At Stake’

“Philadelphia, June 17. - (AP) - The Securities and Exchange Commission's public investigation of the Tucker Corporation's proposed stock sale entered its second day today with the automobile company's president insisting ‘free enterprise is at stake.’

“Preston Tucker, the nation's newest car manufacturers, angered under Government questioning when he was called as a witness in the investigation.

“‘I believe,’ Tucker was told by SEC Attorney James P. Goode, ‘that in previous testimony there has been some statement to the effect that you are a practical engineer.’

“‘I think you asked me if was a graduate engineer,’ Tucker snapped. ‘And I am sure I told you I was not. Unfortunately I was not a graduate engineer, Mr. Goode'.

“‘I have taken years of night school while I was working at auto factories to build this business,’ he went on. ‘I have hired the best men in the nation… men with years of experience… I have the finest men I can possibly select, and if we can't start a business, free enterprise is at stake.’

“‘And I will tell you,’ he asserted a moment later ‘that Mr. Ford, Mr. Dodge, Mr. Willis nor none of the founders of the automobile business were college graduates.’

“The new firm is under investigation in its proposed $20,000,000 common stock sale to the public. The SEC accused the corporation of making false statements and omitting certain material facts in its registration statement covering 4,000,000 shares of Class A Common.”

On June 18, 1947 Ned Brooks, a staff writer for the Scripps-Howard News Service (SHNS) published his third article dealing with Tucker – this time he covered his recent testimony before the SEC:

“Auto Firm Head Fights To Keep U.S. Plant

“By Ned Brooks SHNS Staff Writer

“Philadelphia, June 18 – Preston T. Tucker was matched in a race against time today as he fought to retain possession of the huge Chicago war plant where he proposes to produce his new-design automobile.

“The 44-year-old president of Tucker Corp. won an agreement from the Securities and Exchange Commission to speed its decision on his proposed $20 million stock sale, but meanwhile his time was running short on the contract under which he is occupying the $170 million Government-owned plant

“War Assets Administration has given the company until July 1 to meet certain financial conditions, including a showing that $15 million capital had been raised.

“No Extension Granted

“Tucker Corp. attorneys said their latest word from WAA was that no time extension had been granted.

“The Securities Commission late yesterday concluded hearings on whether a stop order should be issued against the stock sale. By agreement between attorneys for SEC and Tucker Corp., the commission consented to waive certain formalities and thereby expedite decision. Even so, the commission gave no indication as to when the ruling could be expected.

“Normally, SEC action would require at least 15 days after the close of hearings, which would mean that the Tucker Corp. would be unable to meet the new capital requirement by the July 1 deadline.

“Mr. Tucker, however, expressed optimism that the terms could be met ‘if the SEC will give us the clearance in a hurry.’ The stock sale, he said, could begin within a week or 10 days after SEC approval.

“War Assets, it was learned, recently returned to Tucker Corp. a $500,000 check which the company had offered in advance rental for a WAA waiver of the July 1 deadline. Since that action, new negotiations have been started with WAA looking toward a time extension.

“At the final session before the Securities Commission, a score or more visitors identified by company officials as prospective Tucker dealers crowded into the small hearing room.

“Tucker Optimistic

“They heard Preston Tucker assert that he was prepared to fill the demand of ‘American people who have been waiting a long time for a new car.’

“‘When this car is in production, people will feel safety and security they have never known before,’ he promised. ‘We have a car that has caught the imagination of the American people.’

“He predicted that in five or six years all manufacturers would adopt the engine-in-rear feature of his car.

“SEC Counsel James Goode drew from Mr. Tucker an admission that the one hand-built ‘pilot’ car still does not embrace all the features which he proposes to embody in his production-line car.

“Indicates Irritation

“His testimony disclosed also that the Tucker-built motor was installed in the finished car only a day earlier. Mr. Tucker explained, however, that a motor had been installed in a chassis for testing purposes, which he said was standard custom in automobile development.

“Indicating irritation at the prolonged questioning on details of the car, Mr. Tucker remarked, ‘All we are trying to do is to start a business under the free-enterprise system. I don’t like to be a whipping boy.’

“Glenn A. Madden, Tucker purchasing agent, said the company’s plan to produce only one model, a four-door sedan, will mean economy in tooling and speedier production. He named firms with which Tucker Corp. has had discussions on supplying equipment, parts and materials but he said ‘firm commitments’ for these purchases still were to be made.”

Alex S. Tremulis supplied the following eyewitness account of the prototype’s unveiling to his former colleague, Philip S. Egan, who had returned to New York after the Lippincott team had completed their two-month stay on May 3, 1947:

“June 18, 1947 - the day before the unveiling of the prototype Tucker ‘48 - started off well enough. Countless invited guests, many of them signed-up dealers, gathered in Chicago to see this sensation of postwar cars. Tucker had a section of his huge factory roped off, bannered and festooned. White folding chairs striped the vast floor in endless rows. A large band had been hired and an immense stage set up, high above the floor, with a ramp to the left leading to the north plant courtyard. The stage was bordered with thousands of flowers, its backdrop a diaphanous drapery twelve feet high with an oval Tucker family crest on a four foot placard. On this stage the Tucker Tin Goose would debut, brought forth from her crucible for all to see running under her own power.

“Back in the crucible the object of all of this attention was being readied for her grand entrance. She was beautiful, the Tin Goose. Every square inch of her was hand-made, all of her sheet metal patterned bit by bit after the clay models in the development bay. It had been like hammering sheet metal from a live model. There it is in clay; that’s it, that’s the shape, make it! She was painted with a splendid gloss of rich maroon, the color chosen by Preston Tucker.

“Meanwhile, the metal prototype had already been modified countless times to comply with our incessant changes in contour, detail and direction.”

During its construction Lippincott designer Budd Steinhilber recalled seeing Herman Ringling cutting with “a hacksaw into a section of the front fender to make a change and [there were] seven layers of built-up sheet-metal!”

All that extra sheet metal, the several hundred pounds of lead solder used to smooth the Tin Goose's surface, and the twenty-five layers of primer and paint had caused the weight of the prototype to skyrocket. That was before two 12-volt truck batteries weighing a combined 300 lbs. were put into the rear engine bay.

The experimental Tucker 589 required a massive 24-volt airplane starter to crank it over and during testing engineers used portable batteries on an electric truck, with a small battery in the car to turn it over. However the car had to start without any outside help at its debut, so the two 12-volt batteries were added.

Nobody had bothered to weigh the Tin Goose before the show and it is estimated to have been from 600 to 1,000 pounds over its target. Even more improbable was the fact that nobody had wondered if the lightweight cast aluminum suspension arms - designed to support the production Tucker - would support the bloated prototype.

Accounts differ as to exactly when the car's rear suspension collapsed - Philip S. Egan claims the day before the show while Charles T. Pearson claimed it was the day of the show - regardless it collapsed in grand fashion at the worst possible moment.

According to Pearson the first suspension arm broke about 10:30 in the morning with Ralph Hepburn, Western zone manager, driving. The arm was the right rear, and if it had broken five minutes earlier it probably would have killed two mechanics working on the valve actuating mechanism. Dan Leabu, a mechanic who had come to Chicago from the Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Co., recalled:

“Charley Desmet and I were under the engine just before it broke. It must have been about the third time that day we had bled the lines trying to get the valve timing back where it belonged. It was just luck we weren’t underneath because we would have been squashed flat.”

The right rear arm was replaced with an aluminum spare and the mechanics continued to go through the rest of the car. With its scheduled debut only a couple of hours away, an unknowing engineer slammed one of the protoytpe's doors shut a little too forcefully and the very same aluminum rear suspension arm collapsed once again. This time the distorted load proved too much for the corresponding arm on the opposite side, and it too gave way - and the rear of the car slammed to the factory's concrete floor, closely followed by one of the ones in front.

Engineer William Stampfli did not share Preston’s faith in the aluminum suspension arms. The pair had disagreed, first openly and then secretly, with the metal specified for these critical members - Tucker insisted they be made of aluminum, while Stampfli insisted they be steel. Although Tucker seemingly won the battle, Stampfli covertly ordered two or three sets, one of aluminum, the other of steel, to serve as spares (some accounts say that a third set, of manganese bronze was also ordered).

Stampfli retrieved the steel spares and Tucker's core squad of former Indy mechanics had the car jacked up, and they were subsitituted for the broken aluminum arms in record time, however the ceremonies were consequently delayed by several hours.

Countless invited guests, many of them signed-up dealers, gathered in a roped off section of the factory from which huge banners were suspended from the 30 ft. high ceilings. A band had been hired and an immense stage setup, high above the floor, with a ramp to the left leading to the north plant courtyard. The stage was bordered with thousands of flowers, its backdrop a diaphanous drapery 12 feet high. Over 3000 stock-holders, distributors, dealers, politicians and members of the media where in attendance for the debut of the Tucker 48 sedan. (The name Torpedo had since been discarded for reasons of image).

At this point, full-scale testing of the huge Tucker 589 engine had had barely begun and the specimen engine in the prototype had been run only briefly. It was almost 4:30 in the afternoon when the car was finally pushed up on the platform behind the drapes, and Tucker went backstage to receive the applause and congratulations of grinning, greasy mechanics. “Let’s go,” they told him. “What the hell are we waiting for?”When started up hte 589 gave out a roar loud enough to raise the dead. The waiting throng in the improvised auditorium was becoming restless; and the show had to go on regardless.

Tucker ordered the band to play its loudest and to keep the sound level up as the prototype was rolled up to the presentation area and mounted the stage behind the twelve-foot curtains. But the music could not cover a new problem. As the engine warmed up, its coolant flowed to the front-mounted radiators and started to boil over.

Steam or no steam, it was time to go ahead and Gene Haustein, Tucker's official test driver, climbed in, and put the car in gear. The curtains parted, and the Tin Goose crawled onto center stage at which point Haustein quickly killed the engine. Tremulis recalled the scene to his friend Philip S. Egan:

“Preston Thomas Tucker did not have to sell anyone anything that day. While neither a body engineer nor a stylist, he had somehow guided the project to a conclusion that no one could question. He had worked long and hard to get to this moment, and with thousands cheering his creation, Preston Tucker beamed.

“As factory test driver Gene Haustein rolled it into place, the beauty of the Tucker prototype transcended all its flaws. The Tremulis body contours had been retained, with the Lippincott front and rear ends incorporated into the whole; the steer-horn bumper was resplendent, as was the transverse rear grille. For 1947, the car presented a distinctly dramatic visage. Gone were the bulbous, jutting contours of the typical postwar rehashes. Every line seemed to suggest a cooperation with the air rushing past, allowing smooth passage over the surface with a minimum of disturbance. It was long and low and wide and had not a jot of extraneous protrusion, nor one excess of trim.

“Preston Tucker, while neither a body engineer nor a stylist, had somehow guided the project to a conclusion that no one could question. He had worked long and hard for this moment. The crowd, five thousand strong, rose to its feet and roared its approval.”

Four models in strapless evening gowns stepped out from behind the curtains and sounded a fanfare on long gold trumpets, and at a signal from Tucker other models stepped up and drew back the drapes.

There stood the car in full side view under a battery of spotlights, its rich maroon finish gleaming against the white shoulders, of the models who towered above it. Only sixty inches high, it was the lowest passenger car built in the United States, and it was two inches longer than the largest Cadillac. After a brief pause the turntable began turning slowly, pausing every quarter turn to give the audience a look from every angle. People in the jammed assembly room went wild, shouting, whistling and cheering.

When the applause died down Tucker introduced his blonde daughter Marilyn, then 20, who could have traded places with any of the models. Marilyn was to christen the car, and when the turntable stopped she grabbed the bottle of champagne and stepped up. The bottle was wrapped in fine wire netting so broken glass wouldn't puncture the tires when the car was driven off, but that didn’t bother Marilyn. She took a lusty swing at the front bumper and champagne splashed all over the front of her father’s suit, shirt and tie.

Anything that followed unveiling and christening of the car couldn’t possibly be other than anti-climax, but what came next was still good showmanship. Nine more girls walked across the stage one at a time from behind the curtain, each carrying a part of a conventional automobile duplicated in paper mache. Asked what they were carrying, the girls chirped, “A transmission from a conventional automobile,” and so on. These were the parts Tucker said his car wouldn’t need. Then another drape slid back, showing big conference tables piled high with letters and telegrams, part of more than 150,000 which had come in from all over the world after first publicity on the new Tucker automobile appeared.

Tucker made the final talk, which ended the formal portion of the afternoon session, and said in closing:

“Let’s get one point straight. I want to build cars and make money, of course. But there’s something else. This country has been good to me and I feel a debt of gratitude. I’d like to repay that debt, in part, by contributing something to America - something that will mean much to this country’s future, an automobile that will mean truly safe, economical and comfortable transportation for millions of my countrymen.”

After he finished, Tucker introduced Ralph R. Hepburn, who started the car and drove it off the stage into the roped-off area where it stayed on display the rest of the afternoon. There, guards kept people from climbing over the ropes, and models added a decorative touch, while men from engineering and sales stayed by the car to explain design details to the curious. On an adjacent stage a prototype chassis and various components of the automobile were displayed.

With the excitement over, the attendees drifted out, some to go back home while others  - primarily Tucker dealers and distributors - returned to their hotels to prepare for the night’s activities which included a cocktail party in the Normandy Room of the swank Stevens Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Ave., followed by a banquet and floor show in the Hotel’s grand ballroom.

On June 19, 1947 the Associated Press released the first real photo of the prototype Tucker Torpedo - taken several days before the car's debut - with the following caption:

“Revolutionary New Auto Is Previewed

“Tucker Torpedo, nation's newest automobile, is shown in yard of the Chicago plant. Going ahead with plans to begin production in September, despite current controversy with SEC over stock registration. The radically different medium priced car, designed not to turn over no matter how driven, is five feet high, has engine in rear, with clutch, transmission and differential eliminated; is reported to have 800 less parts than conventional cars.

“New Tucker Car Is Brought Out for Unveiling Today

“Many New Features Are Claimed by Preston Tucker, Designer

“Chicago, June 19 - (AP) - The Tucker '48, tagged by its maker us 'the first completely new automobile in 50 years.' was brought out for unveiling today. Its creator is Preston Tucker 4-year-old race car designer, who asserts his new model is a ‘better and safer car than ever has been built’ and can stop in 210 feet while traveling 90 miles an hour.

“Other claims made by Tucker for his '48 include: Thirty-five miles on a gallon of gas at moderate speeds. Elimination of 800 parts now used in conventional models, including the fly wheel, ring gear, clutch and clutch mechanism, universal joint and drive shaft. Torque converters which eliminate the, conventional clutch, transmission and differential, and apply direct power to the wheels from the rear engine.

“Features a ‘Safety Chamber’

“Aluminum, air-cooled disc brakes. Equally distributed weight and balance. Individual wheel suspension which ‘actually eliminates shock instead of softening it.’ An armor-like ‘safety-chamber’ to give front-seat passengers a place to duck in event of an impending collision. A safety-glass windshield that can be pushed out ‘but not in.’ Glass that disintegrates upon impact without cutting edges or slivers. A sponge-rubber ‘crash-pad’ cowl that replaces the conventional metal instrument pad.

“Will Sell 129 in September.

“A ‘cyclops eye’ third headlight which turns with the wheels,' lighting the way around curves. A 150 horsepower airplane type engine, located in the rear. A 2,800 pound shipping weight, with wheel base of 128 inches and standing 60½ inches high.

“The company has announced that it expects to sell 129 of the new cars in September at a retail price of $1,800 each and by the end of the year to reach a 170 car daily capacity.

“Tucker testified at a Securities and Exchange Commission hearing earlier in the week that he expects to employ 35,000 at his huge Chicago plant which during the war produced engines for B-29 bombers. He also estimated that 420,000 persons—dealers, suppliers, salesmen, etc.—would benefit from the corporation he heads.

“SEC Ruling Awaited

“The SEC hearing was held to determine whether the Tucker corporation should be permitted to proceed with its financing program—the proposed sale of $20,000,000 in stock to the public.

“The SEC undertook the investigation after it accused the corporation of making false statements and omitting certain material facts in its registration statement. The SEC concluded the hearing Tuesday and no date for a ruling was announced.

“Tucker has until July 3 to comply with terms under which he leases the big Chicago-Dodge plant from the War Assets Administration. Today's unveiling of the first Tucker '48 - a hand-made job - will be made to an invited group of 5,000 dealers, distributors, and press representatives. (3 p.m., Central Daylight Time.)”

On June 26, 1947, the Securities and Exchange Commission accepted Tucker Corp.’s registration statement, allowing the sale of $20,000,000 shares of Tucker Corp. stock to commence on July 15, 1947. The approval was granted with a carefully-worded warning to investors thatmany past statements about the car “appear to be grossly misleading and in many cases false.” The news was carried by the Associated Press as follows:

“Tucker Corporation Granted Permission To Put Stocks on Public Sale Next Month

“Philadelphia, June 26 (AP) - The Securities and Exchange commission today granted permission for public sale of stock in the Tucker corporation, with a warning to investors in the nation's newest automobile maker that many past statements about the car ‘appear to be grossly misleading and in many cases false.’

“At the same time, the company drew a ‘breather’ from the War Assets administration when that agency extended from next Monday until Nov. 1 the deadline on which Tucker must show financial responsibility for its lease of the huge Chicago Chrysler-Dodge plant it occupies.

“The company's $20,000,000 stock sale cannot take place before July 15, since it filed only today an amendment to its registration statement which automatically provides a 20-day waiting-period unless the company asks and is granted acceleration of the ‘cooling’ period.

“The commission declared it has proved its accusations that Tucker made false statements and omitted facts in its original registration statement filed last May 6, but added the amendment ‘appeared to have corrected the misstatements and omissions.’

“‘We have determined to dismiss the stop order proceedings and permit the registration statement, as amended, to become effective,’ the commission announced.

“The effective date will be set by separate action when the commission decides that the new information submitted by the firm has had adequate dissemination among prospective investors.

“In Chicago, Preston Tucker, 44-year old president of the firm, issued a statement in which he said that advance prospectuses of the stock offering ‘will be widely disseminated so that any interested persons will have a full opportunity to examine them in advance of the public offering’ of stock. He added that his company is ‘now driving our production program to the utmost and hope to have cars in dealer show rooms by late Fall.’

“Under the securities act of 1933, the commission said, it specifically is made a criminal offense for any persons to represent that the agency does post on the merit of securities. Reviewing the matter in which funds of the corporation have been administered, the commission cited certain instances which raise ‘grave questions as to whether a proper stewardship of corporate funds has been consistently maintained.’

“The commission pointed this criticism to Tucker, who the commission said ‘has had complete control of the corporation from its inception.’ Tucker, the agency asserted, has made no net cash contribution to the company, and has received directly or indirectly ‘payments from the company aggregating $217,669, including $11,172 for salary and $15,604 for expenses from January 1, to April 21, 1947.’”

The same day's (June 26, 1947) United Press newswire reported that Tucker Corp. had been granted an additional 4 months to come up with the money required to lease their factory. The article also mentioned the SEC's 26-page opinion that warned potential investors that Tucker Corp's previous advertisments and claims had been misleading and that the SEC was in no way“passing on the merit or lack of merit” of the company's securities:

“Tucker Given Extended Time

“Washington; June 26. – (UP) - The war assets administration Thursday granted the Tucker Corp. four months more time in which to obtain money to finance a lease of the surplus Dodge-Chrysler plant at Chicago.

“The Tucker concern, building a new automobile, called the Tucker Torpedo, was to have produced the necessary financial backing by July 1. The extension will postpone final financing of the lease until Nov. 1.

“Announcement by WAA of the new arrangements followed closely approval by the securities and exchange commission in Philadelphia of the issuance of $20,000,000 worth of Tucker stock to finance the new corporation.

“In a 26-page opinion, the SEC stressed the fact that it was in no way ‘passing on the merit or lack of merit’ of the company's securities. The commission cited the expensive publicity campaign concerning the corporation and its plans to manufacture a radically new rear-engine auto.

“‘We cannot ignore the impact of this misleading information contained in past publicity concerning the corporation and its officials on the mind of the investing public.’ The opinion said.”

Contrary to popular belief the Securities and Exchange Commission does not prohibit shady, poorly-organized or untrustworthy firms from offering stock to the public. They only ensure that the information contained in the prospectuses is accurate. The SEC's website explains:

“Congress - during the peak year of the Depression - passed the Securities Act of 1933. This law, together with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which created the SEC, was designed to restore investor confidence in our capital markets by providing investors and the markets with more reliable information and clear rules of honest dealing. The main purposes of these laws can be reduced to two common-sense notions:

“1-Companies publicly offering securities for investment dollars must tell the public the truth about their businesses, the securities they are selling, and the risks involved in investing.

“2-People who sell and trade securities – brokers, dealers, and exchanges – must treat investors fairly and honestly, putting investors’ interests first.”

After he returned to New York Philip S. Egan established a telephone correspondence with Tremulis to keep up to date on the Tucker project, providing a running commentary in his inimitable style. The Tucker project continued to fascinate him the Tremulis tentatively agreed to hire Egan as his assistant in Chicago if he were to leave Lippincott. Product design at Lippincott and Margulies had slowed considerably, and as the junior member of the staff, Egan was given notice by Walter Margulies that he would be discharged at the end of June.

In one of those grand coincidences, Tremulis called almost that same day to tell notify Egan that he had received approval from Preston Tucker to take him on as his assistant. He readily accepted, and effective July 1, 1947, Egan returned to Chicago as an official Tucker Corp. employee.

Our thirty by ten foot design studio had drawing boards in abundance and space to spare. Alex was an engaging boss. I listened intently as he told me about all that had transpired in my absence, including a colorful description of the unveiling of the Tin Goose. He also revealed that immediately after the unveiling, Preston Tucker ordered the total destruction of both full-sized clay models. They were hacked to pieces and thrown into the trash. No one ever learned why Tucker wanted this done. I shuddered at such a waste of time, effort and materials.

Alex outlined my initial assignment - designing the driver control area of the car. The one in the Tin Goose had been ineptly patched together for the prototype showing. The final design had to be created from scratch, starting with sketches and renderings for Preston Tucker’s approval. The specifications for the interior basically stemmed from Tucker himself.

In a preliminary meeting with Alex and me, he demonstrated his zealous concern for safety. His concepts of a safe interior included: a padded crash pad across the top of the dash; all driver controls clustered around the steering wheel area; omission of a panel forward of the front seat passengers to provide a large empty crash pit into which - according to Tucker - a passenger, seeing an imminent collision, could seek safety. Seat belts had occurred to Tucker, but he felt that they would imply something inherently unsafe about the car, that the Tucker ‘48 was too vigorous, too fast for anyone’s good.

Tucker did not specify an exact design or style, but he was intrigued by my idea of aircraft throttle controls for lights, choke, throttle, etc. It was the beginning of a very pleasant and exciting period of automobile design for me. I had already been quite sure that Alex Tremulis would be an equable boss. And my first meeting with Preston Tucker gave no hints of difficulties in the future.

Decisions on the Tucker’s interior design were actually much overdue. Elsewhere in the plant, the body engineers were intent upon completing the lofting of hill-sized contours gleaned from the two clay models so that dies could be made to shape the steel of the car’s body parts. However, nothing substantial had been done with the car’s interior. Alex and I began layouts for a full scale interior mock-up.

In the Tucker pattern department we found an angel, a model making genius in Terry Moffatt. Terry was a contemplative, capable soul who had the ability to understand what a designer had in mind almost immediately. A basic sketch, a brief explanation of a line here and there and Terry comprehended the idea. In a few days (or sometimes even hours), he came back with the idea carved in wood for confirmation, and then, shortly after, presented a beautifully crafted finished rendition. He also had the ingenuity to use the skills of other artisans in the plant to add the touches of paint and polish to provide us with a finished presentation-quality model. His level of expertise was that of top-drawer industrial design.

Immediately next to the design studio was a small unclaimed office which promptly became the interior mock-up studio. Here, part by part, the interior of the Tucker began to take shape in wood, sheet metal, seating, flooring, pedals and a steering column. Everything was arranged to represent the real car. All of the essential dimensions: headroom, seating height, distance to the windshield, had to be accurate. Our mock-up had to be suitable for the incorporation of the finished model of my driver control area. At times, Terry was ahead of us as we worked on our layouts. “O.K. what’s next?” he would say. I don’t think that Terry wanted to do plain pattern work; the more nearly complete concept delighted him.

My sketches evolved into presentation renderings for Preston Tucker, and I recall that on the third try they were accepted as “That’s it!” Then it was on to the drawing board to generate layouts and model drawings for Terry. In little more than a week he began installing the parts in the mock-up, and within two weeks Tucker approved of what had been done thus far.

One detail was not yet approved - the steering wheel. I had been quietly working on a design which I hoped would satisfy Tucker’s passion for safety, and still be a design first. It would have a large flat energy-absorbing hub with a generous horn button in the center. The horn was adorned with the Tucker family crest in injection-molded acrylic. The horn ring, proven to be lethal in collisions, was eliminated. Alex liked my full-sized pastel rendering of the wheel, and we had Terry Moffat make a model of it. The finishing department painted it ivory beige. We showed it to Tucker. I was certain he would love it.

Tucker looked carefully at the design for a few moments and quietly said, “I know that what I’m going to say is not strictly along safety lines, but what I really want is something like my Cadillac’s steering wheel. It has a small pointed hub; small enough for my hand to grasp. On an icy road, I can feel the ice under the front wheels, and control the car with my hand on the hub.” Thus one learns of the idiosyncrasies of one’s client. My energy-absorbing steering wheel was out. Subsequently, a design by Detroit's Sheller Mfg. Co. (a prominent steering wheel manufacturer) was accepted. The hub would feature my design of the Tucker family crest. The finished product never made it into production, although samples of the hub were run, (photo no. 25).

Thus, minus the steering wheel, detailed drawings of the entire driver control area became my top priority. I drew the extended oval instrument panel as a large injection-molded acrylic panel surrounding a circular speedometer with status instruments within the circle. Just to the left of this area were the driver control knobs, while to the right, the radio dial and knobs barely protruded into the passenger area. Outside sales engineering experts were consulted over each aspect. For the acrylic panel (which was huge by the standards of the time), I consulted the Chicago representative of Rohm and Haas, a prominent manufacturer of acrylic compounds.

Stewart Warner, a Chicago company specializing in instruments, sent in their sales engineer. He suggested using an existing instrument cluster that could be modified to any graphics I wanted. Something I wanted was a twelve o’clock speedometer. This showed zero and 120 m.p.h. at twelve o’clock, with divisions at watch dial increments. Stewart Warner’s engineer said, “No problem. We’ll simply set the pointer to start where you want it and use a movement which goes 360 degrees for 120 m.p.h. The graphics will be yours.”

The Tucker radio was entrusted to Motorola, a pioneer in car radios. Bob Galvin, who later became Motorola’s chairman, was then their Chicago headquarters sales engineer. He suggested we use an existing Motorola radio model which could be turned on its side and modified to our own specifications.

Although the mismanaged and grossly underfunded Tucker Corp. had made one fraudulent claim after another, the SEC’s charter could not prevent the Tucker Corp. [or any other firm] from issuing stock, providing the information in the prospectus was truthful. Very few post-war investors read the prospectuses of new public offerings they invested in, mistakenly believing their Government would protect them.

Unfortunately the forty-four thousand people who purchased Tucker Corp. stock that July were in for a rude awakening. Not only did Tucker’s fraudulent claims continue, they increased in number and frequency as time went on. One person who thought that Tucker's operation was a sham from day one was journalist Drew Pearson, who in his July 6, 1947 ‘Washington Merry-Go-Round’ column briefly mentioned the recent SEC decision:

“... a lot of people In Wall Street would like to know what little angel in or around the White House is watching over the destiny of Preston Tucker, would-be Chicago automaker, whose bid to sell $20,000,000 worth of stock was suddenly approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission after an earlier critical SEC report…”

On July 9, 1947 Ned Brooks, a staff writer for the Scripps-Howard News Service (SHNS) published his fourth article dealing with Tucker – this time he covered the unveiling of the Tucker prototype to Washington officials:

“Blue Ribbon Group Attends Showing of ‘Surprise Car’

“by Ned Brooks, Scripps-Howard Staff Writer

“Washington, July 9 – While the Securities and Exchange Commission kept a watchful eye on the event, Preston T. Tucker invited a blue-ribbon audience of government officials for a private showing today of his ‘surprise car of the year.’

“The unveiling became an invitational affair after the Securities Commission indicated dislike of Mr. Tucker’s original plan to open the doors to all comers and to publicize the party with a newspaper advertising campaign.

“Cards Go to 2200

“A spokesman for Tucker Corp. said the company ‘got its orders’ from SEC as to the number of guests it could invite, and who some of them should be. Admission cards were sent to 2200 persons, he said.

“SEC Secretary Orval L. Du Bois, from commission offices in Philadelphia, said it was ‘not quite accurate’ that the agency had restricted attendance for the debut.

“The commission’s only concern he explained, was enforcement of its rules governing the kind of advertising a corporation may use while a new stock issue is being sold to the public.

“The SEC on Monday gave final clearance to the offering of $20 million Tucker Corp. stock.

“Tombtone Advertisement

“During the offering of a stock, advertising is limited under SEC rules to a description of the security and information where the prospectus can be obtained, Mr. Du Bois said. Advertising stressing the merits of the manufacturer's product is banned during the stock selling period, he added.

“In SEC parlance, the restriction is known as the ‘tombstone advertisement’ rule.

“‘The commission understood that Tucker Corp. wanted to go beyond the usual practice in its advertisements of the public showing of its new car,’ Mr. Du Bois said. He emphasized that no SEC rule covered the question whether such a showing should be private or public, nor was there any attempt to shut off publicity in forms other than paid advertising.

“Flown to Washington

“A Tucker representative had said newsmen would be banned under the company's understanding of the SEC rules. The Tucker pilot car, model for the rear-engine jobs the firm proposes to build in the government-owned plant in Chicago, was flown to Washington yesterday and taken to the Statler Hotel for today’s showing.

“Among the invited guests were high officials of War Assets Administration, which 10 days ago gave Tucker Corp. a four-months extension to Nov. 1 on occupancy of the Chicago plant. Up to that time, Tucker Corp. had paid nothing for its nine months’ occupancy.

“10-Year Lease

“The extension was granted on payment of $200,000 in accrued charges and the deposit of $400,000 for performance of its temporary agreement. The stock issue just cleared by SEC is intended to raise the funds which will enable Tucker Corp. to enter into a 10-year lease of the Chicago plant.

“War Assets’ chief requirement is that the firm have $15 million in new capital. SEC had started stop-order proceedings against the stock sale, contending that information furnished by the company was incomplete and, in some respects, false. The go-ahead was given after the company amended its prospectus. Public offering of the stock is scheduled for about July 16.”

July 14, 1947 Oxnard Press-Courier:

“Negotiations were under way in Los Angeles for an air-frame plant as an assembly point for the new rear-engine Tucker Torpedo automobile. Preston Tucker, designer of the new car, said his company had set a goal of 1,000 a day by Jan. 1.”

July 17, 1946 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Firm Arranges for Big Financing

“by Frank Sturdy

“Preston Tucker, who has leased the government owned Dodge-Chicago plant for the manufacture of a new automobile of advanced design, said yesterday arrangements have been completed for financing the Tucker corporation to the extent of more than 20 million dollars.

“Tucker said he was not prepared to discuss financing In detail, nor to identify the banking group involved, but would make financial plans public within six or eight weeks.

“The Tucker car, to be called the Torpedo, will have many features that have been discussed In the automobile Industry for a long time.

“Lighter Than Others

“Weighing about two-thirds as much as cars of similar size and horse power, the Torpedo will have an engine mounted in the rear, aircraft type brakes, and chassis and body designed as an integral unit using welded steel tubing for strength and lightness.

“Tucker's design dispenses with the transmission, driveshaft, and differential of the conventional cars with their clutch and gears. Power Is transmitted to the wheels by a hydraulic drive, reducing working parts by about 800 and weight by about 800 pounds.

“The Tucker engine will be of the six-cylinder, horizontally opposed type. The block and head will be combined in a single aluminum casting. Cylinder walls will be of fused bronze, these metals expanding and contracting at the same rate as the engine temperature increases after starting. It will have direct injection of fuel into the cylinders and will produce 150 horsepower at a weight of 250 pounds. The engines in the conventional light cars produce 100 horse power or less and weigh between 600 and 700 pounds.

“Plan Production In 1947

“The War Assets Administration will turn over the plant to the new automobile company in September or October, and production will start six or eight months thereafter, said Tucker.

“The company will not require all of the plant space at the start, Tucker said, although its production line will be the longest in the world under one roof. Later, the company will operate assembly plants in other sections of the country.

“Tucker is an engineer and has been in the auto business since 1921, when he was employed by Ford Motor company. He owns a machine tool company in Ypsilanti, Mich.”

July 17, 1947 ‘Inside Washington’ syndicated column:

“Cocktails ‘Torpedoed’ - The Securities Exchange commission intervened to halt what was planned as one of the gaudiest cocktail parties in Washington history. Preston Tucker, whose production of the Tucker Torpedo automobile was made possible by a Reconstruction Finance Corp. loan, was to have been host at the gala soiree.

“The occasion was to have marked the ‘unveiling’ of the Torpedo, and invitations were telegraphed to thousands of Washingtonians, including the entire capital press corps.

“But the telegraphic bids were quickly followed by wires stating that the party had been called off because of ‘illness in the Tucker family.’

“It soon became known, however, that it wasn't illness but the SEC which interfered with the event.

“The SEC informed Tucker that it would not countenance such an ostentatious bid for publicity.

“Tucker thereupon decided to exhibit the car ‘privately,’ Invitations were tendered by telephone this time and it was made plain that the showing would not include free drinks, free food, or free anything else, except a free look at the Torpedo.”

At the time Tucker was still confident that Ben Parsons' 589 engine would be ready by the time production commenced at year's end, however Parsons had his doubts, releasing a July 28, 1947 statement stating that there would be “no fuel injection until the 589 engine is satisfactory.” At much the same time Max Garavito, Tucker Export Corp. president, also had doubts  - meeting with a representative of Aircooled Motors Co. of Liverpool, New York, inquiring as to whether Aircooled’s Franklin O-335 6-cylinder helicopter engine could be converted to water-cooling.

July 31, 1947 Associated Press newswire story:

“California Bans Tucker Stock Sale

“Sacramento, July 31. - (AP) - The office of State Corporations Commissioner Edwin M. Daugherty announced today the Tucker Corporation, sponsor of a new type of auto, has been refused permission to sell stock in California.

“The office released a report of the findings resulting from hearing on the Tucker application in which it was declared in part: ‘The plan of business of the applicant is unfair, unjust and inequitable… , The securities it proposes to issue and the method to be used by it in issuing or disposing of the said securities are such as will work a fraud on the purchasers thereof.’

“Listed as unfair was the distributor and dealer franchise plan which the findings called ‘a phenomenal method of financing, calling for no obligation or responsibility whatsoever on the part of the applicant to dealers and distributor; if the company never produces cars.’

“On the issuance of stock, the report said that as of July 23, 1947 only 1,000,000 shares of Class B common stock with a par value of 10 cents a share had been issued and that went to Preston Tucker, head of the firm. He paid $100,000 for the stock. It further declared that this stock is ‘promotion stock,’ but holders would have the right to participate ‘share and share alike’ with holders of Class ‘A’ stock, which is now being offered to the public through the Floyd D. Cerf Co., Chicago, at $5 per share.”

Aug 1, 1947 Behind The Scenes In American Business syndicated column:

“It now looks as though the U. S. is sure to have another automaker. Last week the Tucker Corporation, which hopes to make the widely-publicized Tucker Torpedo, got the money it needed. Investment firms raised $17,500,000 for the company through a common stock flotation, one of the largest equity deals in recent years.”

Aug 16, 1947: Victor Riesel’s 'The Labor Front' syndicated column:

“Here's the kind of picket line employers will love; When Preston Tucker, Chicago manufacturer of the Tucker Torpedo (as it was originally called) opened his publicity campaign, he staged a one day private showing of his new car in a large stadium - and invited only union members. The CIO's auto workers, among the 135,000 who showed up, threw picket lines around the bowl. But the placards praised instead of insulting Tucker's labor policy.”

The following article appeared in the September 1947 issue of Popular Mechanics:

“Unveiling the Tucker

“From the world’s largest factory comes promise of a new automobile incorporating many engineering principles born of Indianapolis Speedway experiments and wartime advances.

“It is the Tucker car, a rear-engine sedan with disk-type brakes, luggage compartment under the hood, a windshield that breaks free for safety in impact, and a headlight that ‘sees’ around corners.

“Its home is the 500-acre wartime Dodge plant in Chicago, 20 baseball parks bigger than famed Willow Run. Its designer and builder is Preston Tucker, who learned by working for Ford, Cadillac, Studebaker. Chrysler and Pierce Arrow, and by building racing cars.

“In 1926 Tucker and the late Harry Miller became associated in designing and building racing cars. In 15 years Miller Specials won 11 Indianapolis Speedway classics. The team of Tucker and Miller brought many refinements to the automotive industry, including one of the first conversion heads which changed the shape of the combustion chamber for higher compression and bigger valves.

“Now, after 15 years of experimenting and testing, Tucker is building a passenger car that embodies many racing-car ideas.

“The first Tucker - a hand-built job recently unveiled - is only 60 inches high. It has a third ‘Cyclops Eye’ headlight mounted in the center of the hood. This light is connected to the steering apparatus so that a beam of light turns and illuminates curves as the front wheels turn right or left.

“The Tucker’s six-cylinder, 150-horsepower engine is mounted at the rear, directly between the rear wheels. The main parts are aluminum, making the engine 500 pounds lighter than conventional engines of comparable horsepower.

“The Tucker is designed to cruise at 100 miles per hour and the speedometer registers up to 140.

“With fuel injection, high-frequency ignition, light weight and elimination of about 800 parts used in the average auto, the Tucker — its manufacturer predicts — will travel 35 miles per gallon of gasoline at moderate speeds.

“With a wheelbase of 128 inches, the new car weighs approximately 2800 pounds, roughly 1000 pounds less than other cars the same length.

“Door tops extend a few inches into the roof to provide additional headroom for a person entering the car.

“Safety is emphasized in the design. A sponge-rubber crash panel, covering the entire dash and front passenger compartment, acts as a cushion in case of accidents. Gauges, instruments and electrical controls are mounted beneath the steering wheel.

“The windshield is held in place by channels designed to give way and let the entire piece of safety glass push out, if a crash hurls the driver or a passenger forward.

“All windows and the windshield are made from case-hardened glass which pulverizes into coarse gravel-like particles when broken, instead of splintering.

“Locating the engine at the rear produces additional safety, according to Tucker. It puts 60 percent of the car’s weight on the rear wheels and 40 percent on the front wheels. In front-engine cars, the weight distribution is reversed. With 60 percent of the weight on the rear wheels, the Tucker’s disk-type brakes stop the car in two thirds the distance required for cars equipped with conventional drum brakes. Tucker engineers report.

“The disk brakes are similar to those used on some airplanes to assure a quick stop after landing. A single aluminum disk between two friction surfaces provides much greater braking area than drum-type brakes, Tucker explains. Instead of re-lining disk brakes, the entire brake assembly on the new car can be replaced when necessary.

“Advantages of the rear engine listed by the engineer include improved roadability and elimination of engine odors and noises. The block and head are made from a single aluminum casting and since the block and pistons have the same coefficient of expansion.

“Tucker predicts that his engine will give trouble-free service three times as long as ordinary engines with a cast-iron or steel-sleeved block. In the conventional engine, Tucker declares, the pistons expand about eight times as much as the piston wall, causing wear and eventual oil pumping.

“The six cylinders are opposed but slightly offset, with a six-throw crankshaft that has four main bearings. Valves are operated by a hydraulic mechanism. If the oil supply gets low, the valve mechanism shuts off the engine to prevent any damage.

“The engine is cooled by a sealed liquid system, with Prestone providing a temperature range from 250 degrees above zero to 50 below. Thermostats will keep the engine temperature at approximately 210 degrees, which Tucker considers ideal.

“Mounted by only four bolts, the engine can be replaced in the manner of a storage battery in less than an hour. Airplane-type connectors for electrical, gasoline, oil and hydraulic lines can be unfastened in a single operation.

“Under the service plan, Tucker dealers will keep a number of replacement engines on hand. When a Tucker owner brings his car in for engine repair, the old engine will be removed and a replacement engine installed so the car will be ready for use in an hour. Then the old engine will be sent to the factory for servicing.

“In the Tucker engine the conventional power-transmission assembly is eliminated; in its place, hydraulic torque converters transmit power from both ends of the crankshaft to the rear wheels. This does away with transmission, clutch, drive shaft and torque tube, full-width rear axle and conventional differential. The Tucker has no drive-shaft tunnel to make a hump on the floor.

“Each of the four wheels is individually suspended by heat-treated aluminum forgings that act independently when the car goes over obstructions or rough roads. Rubber assemblies replace leaf or coil springs. Up-and-down motions of the suspension arms are controlled by rubber ‘biscuits’ fastened to the frame. Inside these biscuits, metal disks are bonded to rubber with bars extending to each side of the upper suspension arms.

“To increase safety and driving ease, the 13-inch wheels (which carry 7.00 by 13 tires) have a 1/32nd inch toe-in in front and 1/16th inch toe-in in the rear. The front wheels have a special mounting which Tucker says will eliminate any swerving if a front tire blows out at high speed.

“Tucker says the major operating parts — such as bearings with sealed-in lubricant — will require no repairs for ‘at least 100,000 miles.’ If the Tucker does everything its creator claims, it may revolutionize the automobile industry. Time will tell!”

By fall, the many pieces of the Tucker project were gradually falling into place. Many of my original concepts, tempered by reality, were being vindicated. Alex worked on concepts for a suitable hood ornament, seating and interior refinements. He also drew up ideas for future models of the Tucker line of automobiles, including a convertible. We both worked on a great variety of side-projects, including graphics for Tucker dealer showroom signs, which we hoped would soon be seen all over the country. We were also assigned design work on the Tucker premiums, those little incentives offered to dealers for promotion of the car. One premium was a Tucker ashtray designed around the form of the Indianapolis race track (I thought it was a low point in design).

Almost every Tucker employee knew that time was precious, every moment had to be fully utilized, yet mundane details had to be considered. One of our styling department projects was the Cyclops eye. This central beam in the nose of the Tucker ‘48 seemed, at first glance, to be a marvelous simple idea. Each twist of the steering wheel, would illuminate the dark area to the left or right of a turn. Fine on paper. Two factors clouded the brilliance of this concept. Alex explained that tests had revealed that the beam of that single headlamp did not adequately penetrate the two main headlamp beams. Discussions of using a panoramic lens in future models to overcome the deficiency brought back vivid memories of the aborted Lippincott efforts to design that very thing, for that very reason.

The other problem was that the 48 individual states did not have uniform codes regarding acceptable automobile lighting systems. Each state had a myriad of laws governing details of automotive engineering. Fifteen of these states had specific requirements for two headlamps, (plus or minus zero) for the front of a car. Every one of these states would have to be laboriously lobbied to overturn these laws - a lengthy process at best.

Alex and I assumed that the legal answer in those states would be to advise Tucker owners to disconnect the center headlight. What would happen to a Tucker owner crossing into a non-complying state was never resolved. The alternative finally chosen was to design a decorative cover to place over the Cyclops eye of any Tucker ‘48 sold within these state boundaries. This project was given to us, although it had very low priority.

Preston Tucker’s Cyclops eye serves as a singular example of the countless concepts he thought up which were just that - concepts. Even ideas that worked well, such as Tucker’s pop-out windshield, which would automatically break loose when hit with sufficient force (a force less than fatal to a person’s head), had unforeseen consequences. Some employees found that the windshield would just as easily pop out by placing a wet plumber’s plunger on the glass and pulling on it. A car thief who knew this would have an easy time breaking into a Tucker.

The concept is the genesis, be it a self-starter to avoid hand cranking to start the engine, or the fully automatic shift. These and numerous other ideas start with the need and require countless hours, and often years of research and development to bring to fruition. Tucker didn’t have this time factor, but in his gauntlet thrown down to the automotive world he included concomitant challenges to his engineering staff. “Here! I’ve thought of this; create it!” The Cyclops eye was one of these.

William D. Perfield of the Tucker engineering staff came up with the linkage and fittings that made the Cyclops eye work. The central headlamp was on a pivot, connected through a rod and fulcrum system to the left front wheel. Switches kept the center headlamp off when the car steered straight ahead, and turned the light on when the car was turned ten degrees or more to the left or right.

Every decision took us closer to the edge of that inevitable cliff – the final result. That last plunge would have to answer all the questions: does it work, do the parts fit, does it really look as good as proposed? Normally the final result is not a matter of waiting days or weeks, but rather, months, or years. Dies and molds to shape metal and fabricate plastics are complicated and expensive. The engineer and designer put their necks out with every significant component or product created. A mistake finds them in a very lonely setting. The scenario at the Tucker Corporation was a definite cliff-hanger.

It was now well into the third quarter of 1947, and feverish activity, centered around another focal point of the whole picture - the engine and its drive train. Several chassis had been rapidly built to contain prototype engines and transmissions for road testing. At frequent intervals Alex and I were roused from our drawing boards by the thunderous roars from one of these creations on the ramp outside our studio.

A raw powered chassis is quite a sight: a frame with wheels on suspension arms, a steering wheel, improvised seats for a driver and recording assistant, the engine and transmission, battery (or batteries, in this case), a fuel tank and all manner of wires and pipes. All of this essential gear is completely exposed to the outside world without a body. Gene Haustein, our chief test driver, treated the test chassis with intensive care. It worked, to a point, but the Tucker Corporation grapevine was circulating ominous rumors of severe side effects. At first, we took these as being the usual teething problems of a new engine design. All of us knew that the Tucker project badly needed to have a proven powerhouse of an engine.

September 10, 1947 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Tribune Writer Gets First Spin in New Tucker Car by Frank Sturdy

“Rides Test Chassis, and Finds It's Different

“A test chassis of the new Tucker rear-engined automobile was demonstrated yesterday for the Tribune’s automobile editor, the first time any person outside the Tucker organization had been permitted to ride in the radically diferent car.

“The Tucker corporation has leased the war time aircraft engine plant at 7401 S. Cicero av. to manufacture the vehicle, described by Preston Tucker, president of the company, as the ‘first truly modern automobile.’

“The demonstration at the plant was supervised by Lee Treese, vice president in charge of manufacturing, and a test chassis was used because the only complete Tucker car was being exhibited In Milwaukee.

“Car Is Radically Different

“The test chassis was powered, as the Tucker car will be, by the six-cylinder, opposed type engine, and driven by the hydraulic torque converter, which Tucker said he would use when he announced plans for his car a year ago. The chassis does not have the clutch, transmission gear box, drive shaft, differential gear box, and rear axle common to conventional cars.

“The engine differs radically from the usual automobile power plant, aside from the arrangement of the cylinders. It has no cam shaft for actuating the valves. They are operated by oil under pressure. The engine block is made of aluminum, and the cylinders have a bronze- alloy insert to supply the hardness aluminum lacks and resist piston wear.

“The engine lacked the direct fuel injection system Tucker proposes to incorporate in his production line model, a method of feeding fuel directly into the cylinders, rather than by means of the conventional carburetor and manifold. Two carburetors and two manifolds, a set for each bank of three cylinders, were installed on the powerplant. Treese said both methods were being tested, and that the engine in the complete showcar was equipped with the fuel injection system.

“Suspended by Torsion Bars

“Suspension of the car is achieved with torsion bars, rather than steel leaf springs. The torsion bar method provides individual suspension at each wheel, rubber absorbing road shocks. Several large rubber companies make such equipment, and Treese said more than one brand had been tried.

“The brakes on the test chassis were the disc type, rather than the circular band variety on convention- al cars. They are actuated hydraulically.

“Because of the absence of clutch and gears, the brake and accelerator pedal are the only controls aside from the steering wheel.

“As the roads on the factory grounds are too short to permit driving at higher speeds, the test chassis has not been driven faster than 75 miles an hour, Treese said, but he predicted that the production model would have a maximum speed of 120 to 125.

“Test Speed Hits 50 m.p.h

“When this writer rode on the chassis, the highest speed reached was 50 miles an hour. At that rate, the engine was turning over at 800 revolutions a minute, considerably less than half the revolutions required of the average conventional engine to drive a car at 50 miles an hour.

“The engine was noisier than the engines in common use in automobiles. Treese attributed the noise to lack of adequate muffling of the exhaust, a fault be said would be corrected in the production car.

“Although Treese pointed out that fuel consumption tests on the test chassis are not a good guide to the performance that may be expected of a car complete with body, he said that the chassis had given 21 miles to the gallon of gasoline at 30 miles an hour, and 20 miles to the gallon at 40 miles an hour.

“Test Chassis Can't Back Up

“The test chassis cannot be backed up. The hydraulic torque converters on it are not equipped with a device to permit reversing. Treese said a converter with a reversing method is being built.

“Weight of the engine alone is 325 pounds. The engine and all other power plant parts, including the torque converters, weigh 579 pounds.

“A hard maple model of the body, from which production dies will be patterned, is nearing completion, and will be finished in about two weeks, Treese said. The model will represent about 50,000 to 60,000 hours of work by highly skilled pattern makers, Treese said.

“Body 18 Feet 6 Inches Long

“The model is 60 inches high, overall, and 18 feet 6 inches from bumper to bumper. The car patterned after it will weigh about 3,000 pounds, Treese estimated. Tread of the front wheels is 62 inches, and of the rear wheels, 65 inches.

“Treese said production models would have neater engine installations than the chassis, on which pipes carrying the engine coolant from the radiators at the front of the car to the engine at the rear are exposed, atop the frame. The production car will have the pipes running inside the side members of the frame, and the fuel tank will be beneath the floor.”

September 12, 1947 NEA wirephoto:

“Looking Over One of the First Tuckers

“Photo above affords a good view of the revolutionary rear-drive engine, with twin exhausts, featured on the new Tucker Torpedo car. This chassis, one of first completed, is on display in Chicago. Lee Treese, right, a Tucker vice president and Eugene Hausten, test engineer, look over the Tucker power plant.”

September 13, 1947 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Obtains $15,007,000 From Sale Of Shares

“A check for $15,007,000 drawn on the City National Bank and Trust company yesterday was handed to Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker corporation, by Floyd D. Cerf, president of the investment house bearing his name.

“The check covered payment to Tucker of the proceeds from the sale of 3,490,000 shares of $1 par stock in the Tucker corporation, new Chicago automobile company which will build cars in the former Dodge Chicago aviation engine plant on the southwest side. The stock was sold to the public at $5 a share and the proceeds to Tucker were minus dealer commissions and costs of selling the stock.

“Tucker said that receipt of the money brings the company's cash position to 17 million dollars.”

September 16, 1947 Associated Press wire story:

“Tucker Board Chairman Files Resignation

“Dayton, O. – (AP) – Col. H.A. Toulmin Jr., Dayton patent attorney, resigned yesterday as chairman of the board of Tucker Corporation, new Chicago autobuilding firm. Col. Toulmin said Preston Tucker, company president, had disregarded his demands about the proper expenditure of money which had been obtained through sale of stock in the automobile company. An underwriting firm Monday finished selling 3,490,000 shares of Tucker stock, for which the auto company received $15,070,000 to begin production.”

The Tucker story is continued here

©2004 Mark Theobald for with special thanks to Tribune Publishing


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