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Preston Tucker - part 2
Preston T. Tucker (b. Feb. 8, 1903 - d. Dec. 26, 1956)
Associated Designers
Alex S. Tremulis, George S. Lawson

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One of the great characteristics of the Tucker automobile came about from its founder’s desire for safety. He insisted upon a padded dash and clear unobstructed cockpit whose instrumentation was grouped around the steering column – keeping all controls directly in front of the driver so that passengers would not be harmed by protruding buttons or gauges in the event of a collision. Tragically, Tucker believed installing seat belts would provoke a perception that his automobile was unsafe, so he missed being the first manufacturer* to offer the lifesaving devices as standard equipment.

October 18, 1947 Chicago Tribune:

“Two More Top Tucker Corp. Officials Out

“Further Changes Are Predicted

“Two more top executives left the Tucker corporation yesterday, bringing to three the number who have severed connections with the business in recent weeks. The men who left yesterday are Hanson A. Brown, director, executive vice president, and secretary, and James D. Stearns, treasurer and controller.

“The company said Brown resigned and Stearns was dismissed, but an associate of Stearns said both men resigned. First of the three to leave was Harry Toulmin Jr., chairman of the board, who resigned a month ago.

“Brown and Stearns did not explain the circumstances involved but it was understood that the management was not satisfied with their part in getting the Tucker car into production. Stearns' break with the company was predicted by Toulmin when he resigned in September. Four of Stearns’ assistants left with him and other resignations are expected, it was reported.

“Price of Stock Dips

“Tucker common stock was quoted yesterday by the National Association of Securities Dealers at 3 7/8  bid and 4 3/8 asked, compared with 4 3/8 bid and 4 7/8 asked Thursday. The stock recently was sold to the public at $5 a share.

“As soon as the resignations were disclosed, the company announced replacements, appointing Fred Rockelman, director and vice president In charge of sales, to succeed Brown, and Martin Breitenbach, assistant controller, to succeed Stearns.

“Brown said he had no statement to make at this time but he may have something to say next Monday or Tuesday. Brown said Stearns was en route to Washington.

“Tucker and other company spokesmen said the resignations were part of a ‘company-wide reorganization for production’ and hinted that Stearns resigned under pressure, Tucker said Stearns’ successor, Breitenbach, ‘taught Stearns his work, has been doing most of It, and doing It better.’

“Expects More Changes

“‘Every company has to make changes from time to time to keep things going and I expect there will be more changes out here though not in the top brackets,’ Tucker said. ‘Men who are not performing the way they are expected to will have to go.’

“A company spokesman had a similar view. He said the ‘company is getting rid of some dead wood’ and may ‘get rid of some more, especially in the engineering department.’ The company is negotiating for an experienced auto Industry executive to succeed Toulmin.

“The resignations recalled charges made by Toulmin when he resigned in September. Toulmin criticized what he termed inadequate auditing and accounting procedures and asserted Stearns was so dissatisfied with this situation that he was ready to resign as early as last August.

“Stearns was said to have objected to several items Tucker wished to have included as corporate expenditures, including payroll payments to several persons.”

One of the great characteristics of the Tucker automobile came about from its founder’s desire for safety. He insisted upon a padded dash and clear unobstructed cockpit whose instrumentation was grouped around the steering column – keeping all controls directly in front of the driver so that passengers would not be harmed by protruding buttons or gauges in the event of a collision. Tragically, Tucker believed installing seat belts would provoke a perception that his automobile was unsafe, so he missed being the first manufacturer* to offer the lifesaving devices as standard equipment.

(*That distinction goes to Nash, who offered lap belts as optional equipment on their Statesman and Ambassador models starting in 1949 – however the option was discontinued the following year. Ford first offered them in 1955 and Volvo and Chrysler followed in 1956. The first car that came with lap belts standard was the 1958 2-stroke Saab GT750. One year later [1959] Volvo introduced the vastly superior three-point lap and shoulder belt as standard equipment on their Swedish-market cars, however it didn’t become standard on US-bound cars until 1963. In 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed two bills requiring safety belts in all passenger vehicles sold in the US starting in 1968.)

Egan went to work and in no time at all delivered a clever and elegant solution incorporating all of his boss’ demands; today many Tucker fans believe his dashboard/instrument cluster to be the best looking part of the car.

Originally just another one of Preston Tucker’s safety features, the Tucker ‘48’s ‘cyclops eye’ would eventually become its defining feature. Although the light turned with the steering wheel* its sealed-beam headlamp couldn’t make a complete beam connection with the car’s outboard headlights. The problem was easily solved by the use of a panoramic lens, however Tucker vetoed the idea. At that time the Tucker’s third headlight was illegal in 17 states so Tremulis designed a cover that could be fitted where necessary. Due in part to the aforementioned regulations, the concept of turning headlights wasn’t seen again for nearly four decades, when Mercedes and Lexus began using a much more technologically advanced design to accomplish the same effect.

(*Tucker Nos. 1001-1025 used a mechanical linkage; Nos. 1026-1051 used a simpler cable and pulley system.)

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Annual report for 1947 included a few paragraphs relating to the problems Tucker encountered in their initial stock offering:

“Tucker Corporation - File No. 2-7057 - The Tucker Corp. filed a registration statement relating to a proposed public offering of 4,000,000 shares of class A common stock, par value $1 per share, to be offered at $5 a share for a total of $20,000,000. The proceeds were to be used to develop and produce a medium-priced automobile, to be known as the ‘Tucker,’ featuring a rear engine and other innovations substantially departing from present day conventional design.

“Upon examination of the registration statement, the Commission first authorized a private examination under section 8 (e), and later instituted stop-order proceedings under section 8 (d), alleging misstatements and omissions to state material facts in regard to numerous items of required information, financial statements, the accountants' certificate, certain exhibits and the prospectus.

“As a result of these hearings, it appeared that the prospectus and registration statement as originally filed had failed to disclose adequately and accurately the names of all promoters and the amount of consideration received directly or indirectly from the company by each promoter, officer, and director; the stage of development of the mechanical features of the proposed automobile; the status of the company's patent position; the application of the proceeds of the proposed offering, and the company's working capital requirements; the business experience of the executive officers; the nature and the extent of the interest of Preston Tucker in Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Co.; the interests of affiliates and other persons in property acquired by the company; material litigation; the scope of the audit and the auditing procedures followed by the certifying accountants; and the failure of the accounts to reflect all liabilities of the company.

“During the course of and after the close of the hearings in the section 8 (d) proceedings, the registrant filed material amendments which appeared to correct satisfactorily all material deficiencies previously contained in the registration statement. The Commission thereupon dismissed the proceedings and issued an opinion commenting, in the public interest and for the protection of investors, upon certain facts developed in the proceedings and discussing the Commission's action in this case and the limitation of its jurisdiction. In this opinion the Commission also warned the prospective investor of the danger of relying upon past judgments based on prior literature concerning the Tucker Corp. inasmuch as there had been grossly misleading and, in many cases, false statements publicized as to the radical features of the proposed automobile, the accomplishments and the performance of such automobile, and the funds invested by the management. The registration statement was permitted to become effective after adequate dissemination of the corrected prospectus had been made and sufficient time had elapsed since the release of the Commission's opinion.”

In January of 1948 Preston T. Tucker had attended a demonstration of the Kinmont Safe-Stop Disc Brake at the Chicago Police Dept. motor pool at which time he decided he wanted Kinmonts for the Tucker.

Another of Preston Tucker’s challenges to the automotive world was his wish to use disc brakes on the Tucker ‘48. Tucker wanted to move these devices, reputed to be the ultimate for high performance automotive vehicles, from the race track to the highway. Alex and I believed that the spirited road work which a Tucker ‘48 would often experience would generate a great deal of heat in the discs. Some obvious aesthetic and functional treatment seemed appropriate to emphasize their presence and to lower the temperature inside the wheels. We proposed that the Tucker’s wheel discs be fitted with scoops to push air past the disc brakes. They would look good and provide needed cooling drafts. Our wheel disc design, later fitted to pilot production cars, was prototyped and installed on a 1948 Hudson which the corporation had bought to analyze and to use as a chase car for road testing the Tuckers.

The Hudson was an excellent automobile. With a long wheelbase, step-down floors, a 60” height (matching the Tucker), huge interior, and superb handling characteristics, it was the closest thing to a Tucker ‘48 ever brought out by another automobile company. With Marshall Teague at the wheel, the Hudson became a prima stock car in the early 50s with countless racetrack wins. I bought one in the winter of ‘48/49. It was like owning a land-borne speedboat.

We set the Hudson up on jacks in the plant garage to test the efficiency of the “turbine” scoop design. The wheel discs were fitted to the rear wheels. A driver started the engine and slowly brought it up to various speeds, indicated by the speedometer connected to the drive train. At 30 mph, Alex lit a cigarette and blew smoke at the whirling wheel disc. The smoke circled the wheel - nothing much else.

At 45 mph, the swirl was more energetic, but not very convincing. At sixty, there was a modicum of passage through the turbine buckets, but certainly no blast of air. The scoops looked good, but a little head-scratching revealed that the wheels of an automobile, even at 60 mph, may appear to be racing, but they are actually only going at about 600-800 rpm, hardly enough for a turbine, which generally functions most effectively at many thousands of revolutions per minute, not hundreds. Furthermore, we knew that the discs would have to be left and right handed for each side of the car to provide the same scooping movement of air - not very practical.

So much for functional air scoops on wheel discs, unless the vehicle is at Indy and running at genuinely high speeds. Some contemporary cars now have left and right hand “turbine” wheel discs. These cars will probably not be run at Indy speeds very often, however.

However, the relatively expensive brakes were eventually nixed due to their high unit cost and the 1948 pilot Tuckers were equipped with regular hydraulic drum brakes.

One pet project that Tucker was loath to abandon was his low-rpm 589 cu. in. engine which was still being developed by engineer Benjamin G. Parsons and mechanic John ‘Eddie’ Offut. Alex S. Tremulis described the numerous positive and negative aspects of the 589 in his Automobile Quarterly article:

“The original engine that Tucker proposed was to be made of aluminum with a 589-cubic-inch displacement and a five-inch bore and stroke. Its valves were to be actuated by hydraulic lines, in order to eliminate the valve train as we know it today and assure greater silence. On each end of the engine there was to be a torque converter, which supplied final power to the wheels. It idled at 100 rpm, actually pushed the car 50 mph at only 500 rpm, and would turn up a maximum of 1,200 to 1,300 rpm at a theoretical 130 mph. Because of its extremely low rpm, the engine was expected to have lifetime reliability. It was truly a masterpiece of simplicity in concept, but had several serious shortcomings that would have required years of developmental work to redeem.

“First of all, it was difficult to start the engine, as all the valves remained shut until actuated by the hydraulic pump. We finally had to resort to using a twenty-four volt electrical system, in the days of the six-volt system, in order to start the engine. The torque converters also required more development, and a means for reversing the car had to be worked out. The body program by now had reached the point where we were tooling for production.”

In his Tucker book, designer Philip S. Egan reveals why Tucker was so attached to the 589:

“Tucker proved to be a mesmerizing champion of all the concepts of his Tucker ‘48. A highlight of his presentation was his description of the relationship of the car to its engine. The engine (he did not reveal that it did not yet actually exist) would ‘…idle at 100 rpm, drive the car at 50 mph (80 kph) at 500 rpm and would propel the vehicle to 130 mph (208 kph) at about 1200 rpm.’ This astounding description was not regarded by Tucker as a possibility; it was fact. He was thoroughly convinced of it. ‘When you step on the exhilarator, you really go!’ he said, using one of his famous malaprops.

“Not one of us was an automotive engineer, certainly not an engineer of automobile engines, yet I am sure that such rpm/velocity relationships were startling to one and all. I knew a bit about boats and planes, and realized that Tucker was talking about engine revolutions per minute that were more akin to sea-going vessels and aircraft than to automobiles. It seemed to me that Tucker’s background of racing cars, (Harry Miller, et. al.) was in conflict with his proposals. Race cars, especially Indianapolis race cars, scream their lungs out at 6,000 rpm and more to achieve their rated horsepower. Why was this Indy track veteran talking about 1200 rpm? He told us that Harry Miller, virtually on his death bed, had counseled, ‘Pres, make it (the engine) big!’ Preston Tucker’s engine design was indeed big. With a bore and stroke of 5” (127 mm), it was more in league with 450-600 horsepower aircraft engines. There does not appear to be any information to explain this conviction of Tucker’s beyond Miller's ambiguous statement.”

All agreed the fluid drivetrain was not ready for primetime, but Tucker’s crew of talented ex-Indy mechanics were still trying to get the 589 up and running into late 1947. They had grave reservations about the 589’s ability to perform in the real world and as the Tucker 589 went through its extensive testing regimen, numerous problems - including an abysmal lack of power, excessive noise, and the need for multiple batteries to start it – resulted in a report stating that “it failed in nearly all respects.” By December 1947, all further work on the Tucker 589 engine was halted and engineers began exploring other engine options as the Hayes Mfg. Co. would soon begin stamping out the car’s sheet-metal, as relayed by an October 21, 1947 Associated Press wire story:

“Tucker Lets Body Contracts for Auto

“Chicago, Oct. 21, (AP) - Tucker Corp. announced today it has contracted for the body dies and stampings of its automobile, the Tucker ’48, with the Hayes Body Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich. Preston T. Tucker, president of the corporation, said the stampings of body sections would be shipped here in knockdown form by Christmas and would be ready for use before the first of the year. He said assembly line production of the new car would be started shortly after January 1.”

On October 20, 1947 the Associated Press reported that Tucker had finalized his 10-year lease on the massive Cicero Ave plant:

“Tucker firm Gets Ten-Year Lease

Washington, Sept. 20. (AP) - The War Assets Administration to­day gave the Tucker Corporation, new automobile firm, a 10-year lease on the war surplus Dodge-Chrysler plant at Chicago. The lease becomes effective November 1. It provides a minimum annual rental of $500,000 for the first two years. Thereafter the annual rent will be $2,400,000 or 5 per cent of gross sales moving out of the plant, whichever is greater. Marshall L. Godman, deputy war assets administrator for real property disposal, and Preston Tucker, president of Tucker Corporation, signed the lease. The Tucker company has been renting part of the Chicago plant under an agreement signed September 18, 1946. War Assets announced with the signing of the new 10-year lease that Tucker now has met all the conditions stipulated by the Government.”

October 21, 1947 Associated Press wire story:

“Sues Tucker Auto Firm

“Chicago, Oct. 21. (AP) - The Tucker Corp. and its president, Preston Tucker, were sued in federal court today for $900,000 damages by Harold A. Karsten of Los Angeles, Calif., who described himself in the suit as one of the organizers of the automobile company. The suit alleges Karsten and Tucker formed a ‘promotion syndicate’ to organize and develop the new automobile in September, 1944, and that Karsten has worked continuously on the project.”

November 1947 issue of Motor Age:

“Tucker to Make 25 Hand-Built Models

“Although the sale of Tucker Corporation stock in late August had not progressed to the point where enough capital was available to meet the W.A.A. requirement of $15 million capital assets, Preston Tucker, president, stated that 25 special models of the new Tucker car are being built and should be completed within 60 to 90 days. He said that the company has requested bids on dies needed for mass production indicating that 25 cars will be hand built.”

Dec. 19, 1947 Automotive Engineer magazine press release:

Tucker Named 'Man of Year'

“Detroit, Mich. — The Automotive Engineer magazine announced today that its readers chose Preston Tucker, of Chicago, president of the Tucker corporation, as the 1947 ‘man of the year’ for his contribution to the industry.

“The magazine said that Tucker was chosen from a field of five automotive men for ‘his leadership in the development of the first radically improved postwar automobile, the Tucker 48.’ Others considered were Edgar C. DeSmet, chief designer, and D. G. Roos, engineering vice-president, both of Willys-Overland; Charles F. Kettering, General Motors, and Reid A. Railton, Hudson Motor Car company. Mr. Roos formerly was connected with the Studebaker corporation.”

Tucker’s 1947 Annual Report - dated January 21, 1948 - included the following officers, managers and directors:


“Preston Tucker, president; Fred Rockelman, executive vice president; Lee Treese, vice president of manufacturing; Ben G. Parsons, vice president of Engineering; Herbert Morley, vice president of purchasing; George P. Lochner, vice president; Otis Radford, treasurer; James K. Coolidge, assistant secretary; J.J. Murphy, assistant secretary.


“K.E. Lyman, consultant to the president; Glenn Madden, general purchasing agent; M.W. Dulian, general sales manager; J.L. Ballard, assistant general sales manager; Cliff Noble, director of advertising; Victor Schaeffner, director of industrial relations; Paul Wellencamp, engineering manager.

“Directors: “Preston Tucker, Fred Rockelman, Lee Treese, Herbert Morley, Ben G. Parsons, Alfred N. Anderson, Floyd D. Cerf, Barnett Faroll, Harold H. Budds, Bryce B. Smith.”

It also mentions that of the 4,500,000 Class A shares ($1 par value, non-voting), 3,490,000 had been subscribed and all of the 1,000,000 Class B shares (10¢ par value, voting) had been taken.

While the chassis buck was being tested day in and day out, a part of the powerplant question was still unanswered, how to cool it. In December 1947, Alex learned of a small wind tunnel facility at the Armour Institute of Technology.* We asked Terry Moffat to build a precisely contoured, one-eighth-size wood model of the Tucker ‘48. The result was beautiful. It was the first accurate representation any of us had seen of a true Tucker. This was the Tin Goose, clay models number one and two, and all the changes to date, presented in miniature - the real thing divided by eight.

(*Armour was the precursor of the Illinois Institute of Technology, made famous by the great architect, Mies Van Der Rohe.)

Alex and I tenderly put this model in the hands of the Armour wind tunnel engineering staff for analysis. They were to put the miniature Tucker ‘48 through an extensive series of tests to determine its aerodynamics. We sought a reading of the flow of air, the pressures and anti-pressures, the smoothness or turbulence, and the general behavior of the airstream past the shape of the car. Particularly, we wanted to know what happened at the rear where that elegant grille had been placed. The Tin Goose had been temporarily fitted with radiators behind the front grille. Their steaming, bubbly performance on presentation day showed that a rear-engined car dictated cooling means adjacent to the source of power. We needed to know whether the air should be sucked in at the rear or pushed out.

Armour did its work. The results showed us that we needed to bring the air in under the body and through the rear fender air intakes into the engine compartment, then past the engine and through a fan or fans to a radiator located against the inside of the rear grille. This knowledge at last provided the answer to a major question of the Tucker ‘48 project. Armour also told us that the drag coefficient, the measurement of the Tucker ‘48’s streamlining, was remarkably advanced for its time. In fact, contemporary automobiles do not significantly better this drag coefficient.

While the wind tunnel tests answered the engine-cooling hypothesis, elsewhere in the Tucker Corporation, alarm bells were about to clang. Months of testing the huge Tucker engine with its fluid couplings on the sparse chassis buck seemed to have reached an impasse. After numerous talks with the engineering staff, Alex brought back ever-gloomier reports of the results of Gene Haustein’s unflagging efforts. I recall one time when Alex told me that dynamometer testing (putting the engine on a test stand and measuring its output) had indicated power as low as eighty-three horsepower, less than half of its anticipated rating. (photo no. 26).

A bank of batteries was necessary to deliver enough power to start the engine. The hydraulic valve system did not work until the engine had been cranked endlessly, and most of the heat generated while running the engine went out the exhaust pipes. The fuel injection was a no-show. On and on the reports told a story of failure.

A seasoned test driver, Gene Haustein, found this lack of a breakthrough frustrating. Alex told me that one day, Haustein informed Preston Tucker that “the engine has acceleration like the moon coming up, and it sounds like a barrel full of monkeys with the lid propped open!”

This certainly wasn’t the first criticism Tucker heard about the 589 engine, but it must have been pivotal. Shortly after, he made it clear that a new engine must be found - now. The frantic search that ensued also involved the Tucker’s transmission. When an automobile’s engine is placed over the driving wheels, the resulting vehicle is inherently different from the average front engine, rear drive car. Because the space for power and its delivery are in the same area, the engine and transmission are virtually a unit.

Going to a different engine meant possibly abandoning the one key advantage of placing the engine directly over the rear axle centerline - the almost ideal weight distribution (promoted extensively in Tucker advertisements). Suddenly, Preston T’s idea of a double-ender engine with power going directly to the rear wheels was hors de combat, simply because there were no such engines available. Consequently, the new engine would most likely be located behind a transmission placed on the rear wheels’ centerline. This configuration had presented problems in the early Czechoslovakian Tatras with all of that engine weight hanging out to the rear. (In recent years, Tatra has changed to an engine location over the rear wheels axle centerline in their 613 Special.) Whether Tucker knew of this characteristic of the Tatra I do not know, but certainly key staff members of the Tucker ‘48 project were aware of the potential for problems.

By the late winter of 1947-48, the delays in following through on the glowing success of the Tin Goose presentation reached a crisis in the minds of stockholders, dealers and the eager public. The failure of the 589 engine was not a secret, nor was a succession of postponements with other segments of the project. The travails of fund raising, the scratching of fluid drive to the wheels, abandoning fuel injection and giving up on a transverse engine position, all put the reality of the Tucker ‘48 in question. That promised first car off the production line was nowhere in sight. The quagmire into which Preston Tucker was falling threatened the very existence of the Tucker Corporation.

Even at this early date, when the presentation cheers for the Tin Goose had barely faded, there were those in the Tucker Corporation who perceived terminal problems with the 589 engine. Nonetheless, testing of the big engine continued into the fall and winter months, with no success. Finally, at the end of 1947, Preston Tucker made the decision to scuttle the 589 engine, and hired Paul G. Wellenkamp as the new engineering manager of the Tucker Corporation. Doman related:

“Mr. Wallenkamp came to Syracuse to discuss engines. He asked us to quote on a group of twenty-five liquid cooled engines, with proper flywheel housings and accessory equipment. We agreed to submit a quotation in ten days.

(*Carl Doman's, “Tales From The Business of Life” was serialized in “Tucker Topics” the newsletter of the Tucker Automobile Club of America, editor Richard E. Jones. Vol. 5 no. 2 through Vol. 5 no. 7, 1978. Excerpts of Carl T. Doman’s Watertown Daily Times’ column, “Tales From the Business Life” were published by the newspaper as an 87pp booklet titled “Tales From the Business Life” in 1963.)

“In the course of this conversation, Mr. Wallenkamp was very frank and told us of his transmission problems. The torque convertors which Mr. Tucker had discussed so optimistically just didn’t work. Then, there were no proper production transmissions which could be obtained. Fred Loetterle, our chief draftsman, said, ‘...why don’t you use the Cord front wheel drive transmission, but mount it in the rear.’ The idea seemed worthy of exploration, so we went down to the Pare Garage in nearby Liverpool and borrowed a Cord repair manual. Fred made a sketch to show his approach to the installation. It was so good that Wallenkamp said he would try to work it out when he got back to Chicago.”

The quote on the twenty-five engines came to a grand total of $125,000, including forging dies for the crank-shaft, patterns for the block, cylinder head, intake manifolds, exhaust manifolds, flywheel and flywheel housings. Carl Doman’s experience with automotive engines was clearly evident in the expert way he and his staff planned to convert the aircooled helicopter engine to a liquid cooled automobile power-plant. For example, flywheels are not found in aircraft engines, but are routine for all automotive engines.

“But,” reports Doman, “the Tucker Corporation reported back that the price was way out of line. We learned by the gossip route that Tucker had made a deal with Jacobs Engine Co. to use its opposed six cylinder engine converted to liquid cooling.”

Jacobs was a competing helicopter engine company, strictly an aircraft engine outfit, albeit one with credentials comparable to Franklin. Doman and Air Cooled Motors seemed to be out of the running. The Tucker Corporation desperately needed an engine and it looked as if a Jacobs engine would be it.

During December of 1947 Tucker Corp. signed several engine development contracts, the first being with the Hoffman Motor Development Co. of Detroit, a well-known engineering firm who worked for Detroit’s automakers on showcars, prototypes and new product development. Hoffman was to supply Tucker with six engines, three of which would be fitted with experimental Borg-Warner transmissions engineered specifically for the Tucker. The second was with Ex-Cello-O Fuel Corp. of Detroit, who proposed adapting the Jacobs O-360L helicopter engine built by the Jacobs Aircraft Engine Corp. of Pottstown, Pa. for use in the Tucker.

The February 18, 1948 issue of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Jacobs engine was sill in contention at that late date:

“Tucker May Shift to New Type Engine

“By Wayne Thomis

“Tucker corporation may abandon the six cylinder flat automotive engine on which its engineers have been working for two years in favor of a slightly more powerful aircraft engine of similar shape, it was indicated yesterday. A decision on the question will be made by the board of directors and engineering heads this week, company spokesmen said yesterday.

“The aircraft engine under serious consideration as the prime power unit for the Tucker automobile which is now nearing the ‘production freeze’ stage on all phases is said to be a modified version of the Jacobs 0-360L - a 165 horse power liquid cooled flat six cylinder unit that weighs 345 pounds. This engine already is in production by the Jacobs Aircraft Engine company, Pottstown, Pa.

“Termed Favorable Type

“Dimensions, general specifications, and power of the Jacobs engine are extremely favorable for its usage in the rear engine body, said Tucker engineers. It approximates the over-all size and weight of the Tucker engine and provides 15 more horse power. The Jacobs engine has provision for quick Installation, fuel injection, battery or magneto ignitions and submerged cooling lending itself to fan provided airflow.

“More Development Needed

“Engineers working with Tucker have said for months that the company s own flat six cylinder engine required much more design work. The company is now completing 30 cars for demonstration purposes and a reliable production power plant was required immediately. It is understood the Jacobs placed in these demonstration automobiles, but company officials refused to confirm or deny this.

“Difficulties with the Tucker engine were concerned with extreme roughness.”

The third contract was made with a related firm, the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Co., (partially owned by Preston Tucker’s mother and situated in his backyard) who purchased four surplus Aircooled 6 ALV-335 helicopter (Franklin O-335 series) engines from the Bell Aircraft Corp. The flat 6-engines had been designed for use in the Bell model 47 helicopters, and were manufactured by the Aircooled Motors Corp. of Liverpool, NY.

The H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company of Syracuse, New York, began manufacturing air cooled automobiles in 1902, rode the crest of the 1920s boom, and then fell to oblivion in the Depression year of 1933. Carl Doman and Ed Marks, two of Franklin’s key engineers, survived the blackout by manufacturing and marketing Franklin air cooled engines for truck and industrial use under the name Aircooled Motors, Inc. The name “Franklin” was never officially used after the H.H. Franklin Co. folded, but because of its excellent reputation, it was freely used to describe the engines. Doman and Marks had mastered the nuances of engineering air cooled engines for automobile use. Though controversial, and not readily accepted by the general car- driving public, these air cooled engines were power packages complete with cooling fan and shrouds for installation in light trucks and vans. During World War II they quickly penetrated the aircraft market, where air cooled engines were the standard, and in great demand.

Their enterprise endured through WWII and became the property of Republic Aircraft Corporation. Republic invested over three million dollars in Aircooled Motors and immense sums in their post WWII amphibious plane, the Seabee. The Seabee was powered by a 215 h.p. Franklin air cooled engine. (The interior of this plane had been designed by J. Gordon Lippincott & Company.) Unfortunately, the Seabee did not prove to be a big seller, and by 1947 Republic was in dire straits.

Republic’s subsidiary, Aircooled Motors, was not without other resources, however. The company had achieved considerable success in the aircraft engine market, including Bell helicopters. One of the engines for Bell was the 6 ALV-335.

According to an account by Carl Doman the Tucker Corporation first became aware of the Franklin 335 engine when Max Garavito, president of the Tucker Export Corporation, came to Syracuse one Sunday in July 1947, and met with Doman and other principals of Aircooled Motors. He expressed great interest in using the engine in the Tucker car, if it could be watercooled. Doman and Carl Roth, head of Aircooled, then went to Chicago to meet with Preston Tucker and sell him on the new engine. Tucker listened intently, and then said, “It is just too bad that we didn’t get together earlier, but now our engine plans are definitely set. We are going to build this six-cylinder engine with Ben Parson’s hydraulic valve mechanism.”

Several Tucker employees led by Ben G. Parsons were dispatched to Ypsilanti with Offutt to oversee conversion of the four Aircooled 6 ALV 335s to liquid cooling. Tucker powertrain engineers were pressed for time and discovered the only existing transmission that would work without modification was the unit used on the 1936-1937 Cord 810-812. The Cord-Bendix 4-speed electro-pneumatic (pre-selective) manual transmission also included a built-in transaxle and remote-control gear-changing capability.

For the short term, Tucker needed a dependable powertrain that would actually run, drive and go into reverse, so in March the decision was made to proceed with a water-cooled Aircooled 6 ALV 335 engine mated to the Cord-Bendix transmission. At 320 pounds, the Aircooled 6 ALV 335 engine produced 166 h.p. and 372 ft. lbs. of torque – more than enough power to strip teeth off the Cord’s transmission in first gear. However that problem was easily resolved by replacing its weak components with beefier replacements.

January 20, 1948 Associated Press wire story:

“Fights For Steel Plant

“WASHINGTON, (AP). — President Preston R. Tucker of the Tucker Corp., New Chicago automobile firm, says he will "fight to the last ditch" to buy a $28,000,000 surplus blast furnace and coke plant at Cleveland.

“Declaring last night he felt he was being 'shoved around' Tucker asserted his bid was 'higher' than the one by Republic Steel Corp., only other bidder.

“Republic, which operated the plant during the war and now is leasing it, offered to buy the coke facilities for $4,748,000 cash and to lease pig iron facilities on a production basis, with a minimum guarantee of $25,000 a month and an option to purchase for $7,669,300.

“Tucker, 43-year-old former designer of racing cars, said his firm put in five separate 'higher' bids yesterday. He said he was told it would take 10 days for the War Assets Administration to decide on the bids.

“‘I'm the high bidder and I want the plant, and I don't want to be stalled around,’ Tucker said.

“‘When they told me 10 days I began to feel pressure, a little stiletto, working.’

“He asserted big steel and auto lobbies and ‘somebody in War Assets’ were attempting to block the purchase. His principal bid was an offer to purchase for $8,000,000, with 20 per cent down and the balance quarterly over a 10-year period with four per cent interest. He requested also that in event his firm did not get the plant, the successful bidder be required to sell him 20,000 tons of pig iron monthly for 24 months at ‘current prices.’ Tucker, who has turned out 10 test cars of his radical rear-engine design, said he had only 200 tons of steel on hand. He added he had been ‘chasing steel’ without much luck for a year and a half. In that time, he continued, he tried to buy four other government steel making plants without success, while Republic purchased seven plants.”

A young engineer named Carl H. Scheuerman, Jr. had been hired back in February of 1947 to engineer the fluid coupling transmission for each end of the 589 engine for which he was awarded a patent:

“Transmission – US Pat. No. 2564999 - filed on Sep. 18, 1947 – granted on Aug. 21, 1951 to Carl H. Scheuerman, Jr., and assigned to Tucker Corp.”

After the demise of the 589 engine/ fluid-coupled transmission project, Scheuerman worked on several small transmission-related projects until he was assigned to Ypsilanti in order to redesign the Cord-Bendix transmission to handle the increased torque. Scheuerman’s modified Cord-Bendix manual transmission became the Tucker Y-1 (Ypsilanti-1).

Daniel Leabu, manager of Ypsilanti Tool & Machine Co., was commissioned by Preston Tucker Jr. to scour the nation’s junk yards and used car lots in order to locate as many Cord 810-812 transmissions as possible. Within several months Lebeau had managed to round up about two dozen units which were visually inspected and tested for correct operation.

Josh Malks, the world’s foremost authority on the Cord 810-812, believes that a total of 23 Tuckers, rather than the oft-stated 18, were fitted with un-modified Cord-Bendix transmissions (developed during 1935 by Auburn’s Harry A. Weaver and manufactured by the Detroit Gear and Machine Co.) after which Scheuerman’s improved Cord-Bendix based Tucker Y-1s were installed. The improved replacement components for the Tucker Y-1 were furnished by several Detroit machine shops and assembled in-house at the Tucker plant.

When they were originally installed in the Cord 810-812, the Bendix remote-control units suffered from several electrical gremlins and vacuum leaks, which were mostly rectified by the time they were installed in the pilot cars. LeBeau stated that except for a few bolts, washers and miscellaneous items, no parts in the Cord were interchangeable with the Y-1, including the Bendix electric-and-vacuum control assemblies. It was essentially a completely new transmission. Unfortunately road tests revealed the Tucker Y-1 wasn’t entirely satisfactory - some said the gear angle was wrong and others said the gears were cut from soft iron.

Malks did his own comparisons between the Tucker Y-1 (modified) and Cord-Bendix (original) units:

“[It] was in design essentially a slightly lengthened Cord gearbox providing sufficient room for a synchronized first gear. As in the Cord, there were two synchronizer units. In the Cord, one synchro drove second and third gear, and one fourth. In the Tucker, one synchro drive first and second, the other third and fourth. Other modifications included blocker-type synchronizers and a combined interlock switch and neutral switch contained in a large housing on the left side of the shift unit. What remained unchanged were the Cord’s bastard gear angles, the long – now even longer – mainshaft, and the brute force interlock to keep the synchros from slipping back to neutral. And it was still shifted by the Cord’s Bendix-built electric-vacuum mechanism.”

Then Doman relates a new twist in the Tucker story, “One day in early February of 1948, Frank Chadwick, our Parts Sales Manager, mentioned that the Ypsilanti Machine & Tool Company had ordered many miscellaneous parts for a 6 ALV-335 engine.”

Frank Chadwick soon learned that this machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was owned by Preston Tucker’s mother, and that the company had recently taken delivery on three complete Aircooled 6 ALV-335 engine assemblies purchased from the Bell Helicopter Company. On hand to receive the goods were Eddie Offutt, the chief experimental engineer of the Tucker Corporation, Dan Leabu, and Preston Tucker’s twenty-two year old son, Preston Jr. These men spearheaded the effort to convert the 6 ALV-335 engines to liquid cooled automobile power-plants, and pair them with a renovated 1936 Cord 810 transmission. Doman says, “Ed Offutt, without drawings, had designed liquid cooled cylinder blocks and cylinder heads, manifolds, flywheel and flywheel housing. And as a result, he had a fine operating power plant.” (photo no. 27).

The engine was built of seven aluminum castings, two cylinder heads, two blocks, two halves of the split crank, and an oil pan. Offutt, Leabu, and Tucker Jr., replaced the aircraft style finned cylinders with steel jacketed hollow housings to allow flow of coolant around each cylinder. With a displacement of 335 cubic inches (5489 cubic centimeters), a bore of 4.5 inches (14mm), a stroke of 3.5 in. (89mm), and a compression ratio of 7:1, the new engine weighed 320 pounds and delivered 166 horsepower with 372 foot-pounds of torque. The torque was so great that, from a standing start, it was possible to break the teeth of the first speed gears of the Cord 810 transmission. Forty years later, prestige performance cars have not matched this rated torque. For example, in cars with higher horsepower: Cadillac Allante’s 170 h.p. to Mercedes Benz 560 SEC’s 238 h.p., the torque only ranges from 230 to 287 foot pounds.

Another race against time developed, and this time it was no trial run. Preston Tucker had to show the real thing to stockholders and dealers in the upcoming first annual Tucker Corp. Stockholders’ Meeting, March 9th. This time the car could not be a prototype Tin Goose, but an actual Tucker ‘48 with its finished production body and efficient engine. It had to look good and run well, with that vigor and pizazz Tucker spoke of so often.

The Ypsilanti engineering trio had just finished one of the new engines. The night before the stockholder’s meeting, Ed Offutt brought it from Michigan to the Chicago plant and installed it in a pilot run ‘48. The next day at the meeting “Preston Tucker announced that at 11:00 a.m., he would demonstrate the car,” says Carl Doman. “At 10:55 a.m., the car was ready - and Preston Tucker demonstrated the car by driving it across the Dodge-Chicago plant at a speed well above 60 m.p.h. Quite naturally, a cheer went up from the crowd. At last they were convinced that the Tucker Corporation was about to produce cars. I might add that Mr. Tucker, to dramatize the demonstration, requested that the mufflers be left off the vehicle. Yes, it was also a very noisy demonstration.”

Carl Doman’s Aircooled engine and a twelve-year-old transmission carried the day. The beautiful car ran with great vigor and as a bonus, it could also go in reverse: both firsts.

The March 15, 1948 issue of Broadcasting announced that Tucker would be sponsoring ABC’s ‘Speak Up America’ radio show commencing in April of 1948 on all 85 affiliates of the American Broadcasting Co.:

“Tucker Sponsors

“Tucker Corp., Chicago, will sponsor Speak Up America on ABC [Broadcasting, Feb. 23], a new forum type quarter-hour program featuring John B. Kennedy, in a brief discussion of the days leading question, followed by guest speakers versed in the topic under discussion, effective April 4, Sundays, 4-4:15 p.m.

“Each week the listener writing the best 50-word letter on the question under discussion will receive a Tucker 48 automobile.

“Second prize will be a radio-phonograph console set. In addition, 18 other prizes will be awarded to letter writers. Preston Tucker, president of Tucker Corp., will deliver the commercial messages.

“Roy S. Durstine Inc., Chicago and New York, is the agency.

“Mr. Tucker will have to join AFRA and pay his initiation fee of $50 in order to announce the commercials.”

By March, Alex and Egan felt that the basic industrial design of the interior was on target - the crash pad, the new look of the instrument and control area, and the general impact of the layout (photo no. 29). However, the driver controls were only part of the interior. The styling, color and fabric choices of the interior were still rather pedestrian. We needed an expert in such details. Several months before, Alex had begun to search for a fabrics and color stylist to round out our design crew.

Although she had nothing to do with the interior design of the prototype Tin Goose, former Raymond Lowey Associates’ Studebaker designer Audrey Moore (b.1918-d.1996) came on board in March of 1948 as Tucker’s interior stylist. In addition to choosing fabrics, patterns and colors Moore also designed the door panels, kick panels, carpeting, headliner and seating surfaces, ensuring they all blended harmoniously with the palette of factory colors offered on the initial run of pilot 1948 Tuckers.

Audrey joined our twosome in mid-March and rapidly demonstrated her ability to size up the situation and politely but expertly point us in the right direction. With excellent sketches and renderings, she brought reassurance that the production models of the Tucker '48 - and beyond - would be top drawer (photos no. 30, 31).

In a 1985 interview with Dave Crippen, Moore recalled how she became connected with the Tucker organization:

“I had a brother who was working there, and I had come back home from my different kinds of job seeking and gotten a job at the University Hospital. My brother called me, and he said, ‘You ought to go over to Illinois and take a look at that Tucker car. I think that's something that you'd like to get into.’ So I asked him if he knew who was in charge, and he didn't know Alex [Tremulis], but he knew the man in charge in personnel, and he gave me his name. It seems to me his name was Wilson. And he said, ‘If you’ll call him, he could probably tell you who’s in charge of the styling.’ So I called, and he told me it was Alex Tremulis who was in charge in that department. So I called him and talked with him, and he asked me to come to Chicago and bring some samples of my work. He’d heard that Loewy had had a woman working for him. So he said, ‘That would be kind of interesting… We need somebody to do some interiors for us.’ And although interiors hadn't been my forte, it was something that I had done. So I went down, and I took some drawings, and Alex hired me on the spot, and helped me find a place to live.

“At the time I arrived there, however, they hadn't produced a car. In fact, when I came from the airport to the Tucker Corporation the first day that I was to report to work, the cab driver pulled up at a light, and when he found out that I was going out to Tucker to work, he said, ‘Oh, that’s a fabulous car.’ He told me of an incident; how he had been out driving and had stopped at a light, and this car came up, and he said, ‘Never seen anything like it. When that light changed, it was like a rocket; it just took off. I was still there. It was just a rocket!’

“So when I got out to the building, I was telling Alex about this wild car and what it could it do, and he said, ‘Let me show you the Tucker.’ So we went out to the showroom, and he showed me this beautiful car sitting there, and he said, ‘There it is.’ I said, ‘Is that the one that the fellow was talking about?’ He said, ‘Must B.’ So we looked at it, and it was a mockup, and it was made of wood, metal, clay, whatever they could get. There wasn't much clay because they couldn't get the venders to sell them any clay. I suppose the Big Three refused to allow the vendors to sell clay to Tucker. They needed it so badly to make their [own] models. So it mostly was anything. It was really a junk pile, but it was beautifully painted, beautifully shaped and styled. And he said, ‘That’s the one that left him like a rocket.’ So it was a wild imagination of people that Tuckers were around and what they could do, and here there wasn’t one out there yet.”

Crippen then asked Moore what her duties were in terms of interior design:

“I made drawings for interiors. Now there I did work with colors - fabric samples and also color chips, coordinating the interior colors with exterior colors, which was something else again. It was quite new because, up to that point, there hadn't been too much concern about color of interiors. They didn't worry about colors; they didn't worry about fabrics. There was just like one fabric, and it was.... quite drab. The old grey mohairs just clung to your clothes terribly. So we were interested in trying to use some different kinds of fabrics… I can't recall the names of them, but I can still see them, and I can still feel them. They looked like suede, but they were woolen. Beautiful, beautiful fabrics - just beautiful. And it was nice working with vendors and seeing what they have and working with the boys from the trim shop to see what they could do for us.

“I did designs for door panels, and seat covers, and coordinating the lines of the seat covers to the door panels and that sort of thing. It was different. I didn't do any of the work on the dashboard. That was a separate thing. It was already pretty well established that this is what they wanted, and the instruments were pretty well established in a cluster group in front of the steering wheel. There wasn't an instrument of any kind or any hardware in front of the passenger. In fact, the glove compartment was in the door instead of having the glove compartment in the instrument panel. They took the glove compartment out of there and put it in the door. So there wasn't anything that could hurt anyone if here was an accident. Everything was recessed.

“Preston’s wife dictated the colors that were to be used, and we worked with her ideas. Although we didn't work [directly] with Mrs. Tucker, the ideas got through to us. As long as it was blue, or pink, or peach, that was okay - and black, of course… How many of those ideas were carried out, I have no way of knowing. But I did submit drawings to the trim department. And we would see the doors and seats after they finished them. It was very nice. They did lovely work - it was very gratifying to see how well they followed our ideas.

“One of the interesting features of the automobile, and this was also one of Mr. Tucker's ideas, he wanted the front and back seat cushions interchangeable so that the wear would be distributed evenly. When we're turning in a car or selling it, the seats would be worn so evenly that there wouldn't be any distinction of wear. It was a pretty good idea.

“Now Alex dealt mostly with - in fact, neither Phil nor I had any meetings with Mr. Tucker, other than maybe social occasions when they were showing someone through the building or the department, or we went out into the showroom. Also, Alex dealt with engineering, and we were adjacent to research. But Alex did all of that, because he was the boss, and he was carrying out Tucker’s orders, and he could work with research.

“And we did meet engineers like Mr. Fred Rockelman. When he came along, and then I’m trying to think of the other fellow that was - Mr. White - somebody who did - was it the water­cooled engine? Yes, and he came through and talked to us. Then there was some fellow from Italy who was a real speed demon, and he came through and talked to Alex, and Phil and myself. We did get some information from outside, although design departments are usually under lock and key. Not anybody can walk in there. And we, of course, were not allowed to go anywhere, either.

“The trim department brought their things to me of what they had done to get our approval and to see how we liked what they were doing. And it was nice.

“When I worked for Loewy, we never went into any other part of the plant. And we were under lock and key. In a lot of ways it’s good, and in a lot of ways it’s very frustrating because you get so tired of not having anyone else to talk to. People were always stealing one another’s ideas, and that had a lot to do with it, and they didn’t want somebody to come through and take a job for a while, and steal the ideas, and move on, and carry the ideas along with them, or techniques, or whatever, and the techniques were very important.”

Although several sources credit Moore with designing the Tucker logo, she claims it was a pre-existing design that she modified for Vera Tucker:

“I went to their apartment to work with Mrs. Tucker [who] wanted me to design a heraldic crest using the logo from the car. I took the working drawing of the logo, and I made a heraldic crest out of the colors that she decided that she wanted the crest to be, and I took it up to their apartment… I was given the logo and told to work with it and change it any way I wanted and to do some different color ideas of com­binations and that sort of thing.”

Moore also recalled working with another former Raymond Loewy Associates veteran named Joseph Thompson, who later taught clay modeling at the Art Center School/Art Center College of Design in Pasadena after he retired from Ford:

“He was head of [Tucker] model-making. He was a marvelous clay modeler. I guess there were none better.”

March 10, 1948 United Press newswire:

“Says 20 Tuckers Will Roll Off Line Every Hour

“Chicago, March 10 (UP) - Preston Tucker, Chicago automobile manufacturer, said today he will be producing cars at a rate of 20 to 30 an hour by mid-summer. Tucker, who demonstrated the first assembly line model of the Tucker 48 automobile at the annual stockholders meeting yesterday, said production will reach 20 per hour even if he does not obtain a government-owned steel plant at Cleveland for which he has placed a bld. Nine of the company’s 10 directors were re-elected. Preston Tucker, Jr., 25 years old, was named to the 10th directorship, replacing Harry Budds, who resigned several months ago.”

A quotation from Aircooled Motors of $12,500 for twenty-five engines, had been rejected by the Tucker Corp. earlier in the year as being too high. However, when the Ypsilanti project of converting the air-cooled ALV-335 helicopter engine over to water-cooling worked, Tucker offered the engine’s designer and chief engineer, Carl Doman, a job as director of engineering. Much to his surprise Dorman refused, to which Tucker responded:

“Is Air Cooled Motors for sale?”

To which Doman replied:

“I think it is. Let's call the president, Carl Roth.”

Roth met with Preston Tucker in Chicago, talked the matter, over and the upshot was that Tucker flew to Syracuse to inspect the plant there. The result was not an immediate offer of purchase, but an assurance of engineering contracts. Tucker obviously had more than that in mind, because a week later, he and his executive vice-president, Fred Rockelman, agreed to fly to New York to attend a meeting of Republic Aviation’s board of directors – a board anxious to divest Aircooled (their Seabee venture no longer needing Franklin engines in profusion). Before the day was over, Tucker privately asked Carl Doman, “How much should I offer?” Doman said, “I would suggest $1,800,000.” Tucker responded with an offer of that figure and the Republic board “reluctantly” accepted the offer.

With two checks totaling $1,800,000, Aircooled Motors of Syracuse, New York, became a subsidiary of the Tucker Corporation of Chicago. Preston Tucker made the announcement of this purchase on March 21, 1948.

After several discussions with Aircooled’s board of directors, Tucker negotiated a price of $1.8 million and Aircooled Motors became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tucker Corp. One novel feature of the pilot Tucker that was demonstrated time and time again was its quick-disconnect engine cradle. By removing four large bolts, and unplugging a fuel line and electrical block, the Aircooled 6 ALV 335 could be removed and replaced by a two-man team in 15 minutes.

March 20, 1948 Associated Press newswire:

“Tucker Car Firm Buys Motor Plant

“Chicago (AP) - The Tucker corporation Friday night announced purchase of the Air-cooled Motors, Inc., plant at Syracuse, N.Y., for $1,800,000. Preston S. Tucker, president of the new automobile manufacturing company, said his Chicago organization would take over operation of the Syracuse plant, a subsidiary of Republic Aviation corporation, immediately. Tucker said acquisition of the plant will enable his automobile company to ‘get into immediate production of automotive engines’ for the Tucker car. The engine, he said, will be a flat six-cylinder opposed type.”

Tucker body parts, ordered from eight major Detroit fabricators of dies for the stamping and trimming of fifty-two body parts, began to arrive at the plant. Some of the metal body parts for the Tucker were unusually excellent in spite of their being made on Kirksite dies. These are dies cast of a relatively low temperature metal, rather than machined from hard steel. Kirksite dies are used to save cost and time, and are usually resorted to for relatively low volume production runs. It is presumed that Tucker would have eventually replaced these with steel dies for his planned high volume production runs.

At last it became possible to put portions of the Tucker ‘48 together and to organize a pilot production line (photo no. 28). To the delight of the growing numbers of visitors, it was finally beginning to happen. The car was real. They could actually see Tucker bodies in white (parts assembled before painting) moving along an assembly line. By early March, 1948, Tucker ‘48 serial number 1001 (number one), 1002, 1003, and others began to take shape. Throughout the entire plant, morale was the highest it had ever been. There was open admiration and respect for the engineers and technicians who had made the translation of the design one of quality. It was good, superbly good. This judgment was to remain valid through all of the days of pilot production (and continues to this day in existing Tucker ‘48’s).

Among the innumerable routine and special parts that were shipped in were fifty steering wheels from the Ford Motor Company. After Preston Tucker rejected my asymmetrical proposal, he chose a steering wheel by Schiller, but precious weeks elapsed before Schiller was given the contract. They immediately began tooling for the new design, but could not deliver the wheels in time to be installed in the pilot production Tuckers rolling off the assembly line. The problem nearly caused panic until Alex Tremulis came to the rescue.

Alex had many contacts in the automobile industry and called a friend at the Ford Motor Company. Upon hearing the problem, the friend responded, “Alex, we'll ship you fifty Lincoln Zephyr steering wheels we have in stock. They have slight blemishes, but you can use them. All we ask is that, when you get your production wheels, you remove ours, destroy them and replace them with your new ones.”

“O.K. great!” Alex said. “Send us an invoice for the cost.” 

“Forget it,” Alex’s friend replied, “they’re yours. Just destroy them when your new ones come in.”

An April 1948 Tucker press release announced that “five Tucker ‘48s per day by July 15 could be expected” was sent to all major new outlets and the April 1948 edition of Tucker Topics mentioned that Max Garavito, president of the  Tucker Export Corp., 39 Pearl St.,  New York City, New York, had already sold 30 Tucker franchises to distributors in the following countries:

“Argentina, Belgium, Trinidad, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Morocco, Greece, Guatemala, Iran, Lebanon, Italy, Mexico, Curacao, Peru, Portugal, India, Switzerland, Palestine, S. Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela, Turkey, Phillippines, Panama and Siam (Thailand).”

April 9, 1948 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Uses 11 Million On Auto Plans

“Gets N.Y. Plant, Seeks Furnace

“by Thomas Furlong

“Tucker corporation has expended more than 11 million dollars of the 17 ¼ millions raised through the public sale of stock and dealer franchises, Preston Tucker, president said yesterday.

“This money was spent in readying for production of automobiles the vast airplane engine plant at 7301 South Cicero av. and for other activities. Expenditures other than those made at the Chicago plant include the purchase 3 weeks ago for $11,800,000 of the Syracuse, N.Y. plant of Aircooled Motors, Inc. Tucker expects to use engines produced at Syracuse in the first Tucker automobiles, meanwhile building up production of his own engine in Chicago. Tucker said that the motors produced by the Syracuse plant are similar to the motor of his own design to be built in Chicago and that the jigs and tools in the two plants are interchangeable with some adjustments.

“Seeks Slant Furnace

“Tucker is also seeking to purchase for 8 million dollars a government-owned blast furnace and by-products coke plant in Cleveland, now operated by Republic Steel corporation.

“Tucker said be needed the Cleveland facility to achieve a high level of auto production. ‘ If we get it we can turn out 1,000 cars a day; otherwise our output will be held down to about 150 daily,’ he said.

“Tucker made five separate bids on the Cleveland facility. His principal bid is an offer to purchase for 8 million dollars, 20 per cent to be paid down and the balance in quarterly payments over a 10-year period. He also offered to lease the property. Competing for the plant is Republic which has offered to buy the coke plant and lease the furnace. The War Assets Administration has had the bids under consideration since last January but has made no award although an early decision is expected.

“Ready For Fight

“Always optimistic, Tucker believes that acquisition of the plant will contribute profits to his enterprise as well as assure sufficient steel for his auto plant.

“Tucker said that somebody at War Assets is trying to block his deal although he is the high bidder. He implied that he is prepared to ‘raise cain’ if he doesn’t get the plant.

“’We closed the day yesterday with $6,070,000 of cash on hand,’ Tucker said in commenting on the firm’s current financial position. ‘We also have $4,629,850 in notes from dealers given in payment of franchises. These notes are bankable because we have tested them.’

“Replying to a question Tucker said no new financing was in prospect. ‘We expect the acquisition of the Syracuse plant to help us financially. Also the Cleveland plant it we get it.’

“Shows Assembly Line

“Tucker showed his visitor the assembly line that has been constructed Ii the huge main building of the plant. It is a long circular track along which Tucker hopes to see autos leaving at the rate of several hundred a day in the months to come. Overhead equipment has been installed along the line. Smaller feeder assembly lines are also inspected.

“‘The body assembly line is about 98 per cent completed,’ Tucker explained. ‘Our motor assembly line (which the visitor did not see) is about 60 per cent completed.’

“There is no production work underway on the main assembly line but in an adjoining section of the plant one may see several bodies moving along the paint line. These are the shells of the first cars Tucker hopes to put on the road.

“The visitor is then taken to another part of the plant and shown two test cars on which adjustments and experiments are still being made.

“Visitor Has Ride

“‘We have e temporary transmission in this car,’ Tucker explained, as he took his visitor for a ride along South Cicero av. for about two miles in one of the test cars. The sight of the car brought stares and excited comments from pedestrians and other motorists along the route.

“The car achieved a speed of 70 miles per hour during the short drive. Tucker raised his eyebrows when asked the maximum speed that could be achieved. ‘You can see that we are just idling along at this speed.’ he said.

“After returning to the plant Tucker was asked about the transmission system. ‘Only six of our people are permitted in that department.’ Tucker said. ‘If you want to sign a bond that you will never discuss it I will show it to you.’

“This invitation was declined, but Tucker was pressed for more information.’ It is the hottest thing that has yet happened in the industry,’ was his reply.

“Timetable Unchanged

“Questioned about his production timetable Tucker said: ‘I still think we get rolling in June. At the beginning perhaps only a few cars a day, but we will step up fast. There will be problems but we have licked a lot of them already. The first cars will be put in service by our own employees. We will get accurate first hand reports on their operating results. We will use this information to improve our cars and take out any bugs.’

“Tucker radiates confidence and enthusiasm. He has a quick answer when any problem is mentioned - too quick in the opinion of some. An associate was asked if he retained his faith in Tucker and his ability to carry out his program. There was a short pause before the reply came.

“‘Yes I do,’ he said, slowly, ‘There are times when I get goose pimples over his activities. The man can’t do anything on a small scale. He is a supreme optimist. Three years ago nobody had even heard of him. Today be controls the biggest industrial plant in the world. He has a lot of problems to meet but I believe he will succeed. That’s my best guess.’”

April 21, 1948 Associated Press newswire:

“Tucker Presses Fight By Flying Auto To Capital

“Asserts He Wants To Show Washington That They’re Actually Making Cars

“By The Associated Press

“Washington. April 22 - Preston Tucker, 43-year-old automaker from Ypsilanti, Mich., rushed the first Tucker automobile off the production lines into Washington by air yesterday to back up his bid for a surplus government pig iron plant.

“‘I just want to show them we’re genuinely turning out automobiles,’ Mr. Tucker told reporters at a news conference. The car was flown in by Mr. Tucker’s private plane from the manufacturing plant in Chicago. Mr. Tucker has been battling for months to buy a coke and pig iron plant in Cleveland. He says he needs the pig iron to swing into full mass production. The plant now is operated by Republic Steel, which ran it during the war. Both Republic and Mr. Tucker put in bids to buy the plant last Jan. 19. The War Assets Administration has not yet announced its decision.

“Republic says it needs the plant and asserts if Mr. Tucker gets it several hundred foundries in the Cleveland area will lose their source of supply.

“Mr. Tucker says he hopes to turn out 125 cars by June 3 and to reach a rate of 150 a day by mid-July.

“He is manufacturing in a $100,000,000 war surplus plant at Chicago, on which he had made a $1,275,000 down payment with an option to buy for $30,000,000.

“He now has 1,600 employees. He said he will have 35,000 when he reaches full production of 120 cars an hour.

“Mr. Tucker charges that ‘big steel and automobile interests ‘ are blocking his purchase of the Cleveland plant.

“He said that he wants a ‘yes or no’ answer from the WAA on the surplus plant.

“Mr. Tucker expects to sell his rear-engine drive car in the $1,700 to $2,300 range.”

As the first Tucker Y-1 transmissions were completed, they were swapped out with the un-modified Cord-Bendix units previously installed in the first group of pilot Tuckers, with the exception of 4 cars, which reportedly retain the original Cord units to this day.

Back in 1947 Preston Tucker still had hopes of building his own fully automatic transmission, and he announced a contest whereby the first person to build/test a unit that combined the ease of a Buick Dynaflow, and the performance to a Hydramatic, would receive $5,000. A young engineer named Warren A. Rice was selected as the contest-winner. Rice designed a ‘hydro-kinetic’ automatic drive that used a torque multiplying device which gave an infinite variation of speed from start to top direct drive. It had two hydraulic couplings, but no hydraulic torque convertor to accomplish the variation and was unlike anything used for that purpose prior to that time.

A test model of the R-1 (the ‘R’ standing for Rice) was built in the shop at the plant and installed in a test car; 2 improved units (R-1-2 and R-3) were subsequently built and installed for testing – one in a test chassis and the second in one of the pilot Tuckers. In a test held inside the Tucker grounds a Tucker equipped with the Rice drive system came out ahead of a Dynaflow-equipped Buick which stalled on the loose rocks.

Development of the new Aircooled engine and Tucker Y-1 manual transmission took less than three months, and a running demonstrator was ready for the stockholders meeting well ahead of time. As reported by the Chicago Daily News, nearly 1,700 turned out in the big meeting hall at the Tucker plant to witness Preston Tucker demonstrate that the car was capable of backing up - many in attendance had come for the sole purpose of finding out for themselves if the reports were true.

While Scheuerman was working on the Y-1, Warren A. Rice worked on an automatic transmission for the production 1948-1949 Tuckers as it was deemed essential for survival in the automotive market by that time. From early spring of 1948 until the installation of the first Tucker Y-1 the two transmission programs ran in parallel. Three versions of the Tuckermatic were built, the R-1, the R-1-2, and the R-3, (the R for Rice, its designer). The first version, the R-1, was only used on a test chassis and was not installed on any of the pilot cars. It had one big problem – it required the engine to be off in order to select a gear. The R-1-2 was improved by adding a layshaft brake to allow gear selection while the engine was running. This version was installed on pilot cars no. 1026 and 1042 only*. The R-3 version had further improvements including a centrifugal clutch to help shifting between forward and reverse even further, but it was never installed in any of the final cars. Rice was made an assistant vice-president and supervised the Tucker testing program at Indianapolis during the summer of 1948.

(*Pilot car no. 1042 was wrecked, although its novel powertrain was salvaged. Pilot car no. 1026 survives intact and is part of the Cammack Collection at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Penyslvania.)

Because the twin torque converters of the Tuckermatic made the engine-transmission unit longer, the fuel tanks in the cars to which they were to be fitted (pilot cars nos. 1026-1051) had to be relocated from behind the rear seat to the rear of the luggage compartment, just ahead of the dashboard - even though only two Tuckermatics were actually installed.

Later in the year a Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic was tested in car no. 1048, but by that late date it was merely an engineering exercise as most everyone knew that the chances of the Tucker entering series production were slim to none.

The test chassis and prototype ‘Tin Goose’ had a rubber-bonded disc type front and rear suspension, similar to that found on some of Harry A. Miller's race cars, however it proved unable to handle the massive weight of the 2-ton+ passenger car.

Following the ‘Tin Goose’s’ catastrophic rear suspension failure prior to its June 19, 1947 debut, Tucker engineers developed a significantly beefier front and rear independent suspension that utilized torsilastic [bonded rubber and steel] springs that were originally developed for use on Twin Coach transit buses and acted as both spring and shock absorber. Tucker's bonded rubber and steel suspension components were supplied by three vendors, U.S. Rubber Co. (later Uniroyal), Firestone and B.F. Goodrich.

The rear suspension on all pilot Tuckers (nos. 1001-1051) featured a tube-style torsilastic spring unit which consisted of a central steel core encased in a rubber cylinder encased in a steel shell. Each side featured a long torsilastic tube welded to the trailing arm on one end and a shock absorber on the other. One small difference being a 2-inch shorter rear control arm on pilot cars nos. 1001-1008.

The rear suspension on pilot cars nos. 1001-1002 was so stiff that in order to change a tire the rear fender (or suspension) had to be removed. The rear fender contour on pilot cars nos. 1003-1051 was slightly altered to allow the tire to be easily removed.

Three different front suspensions were installed. Pilot cars nos. 1001-1002 used a torsilastic tube arrangement similar to that found on the rear of the car, which suffered from severe toe-in during heavy braking.

Pilot cars no. 1001-1025 had the tubes replaced by torsilastic shear-blocks (molded rubber slabs laminated between two steel plates and mounted between the upper and lower control arms). Although they exhibited superior handling compared to the later tube-style units that preceded them, shear block-equipped cars had no adjustment for caster or camber and were prone to sagging. Additionally the rubber often tore from around the metal plates which would result in unpredictable handling.

Pilot cars nos. 1026-1051 had their torsilastic shear-blocks replaced (once again) with much-improved torsilastic tubes and a redesigned hub that corrected the earlier units’ toe-in braking problem. This also solved the sagging problems, but introduced new handling problems that resulted from the alignment of the lower control arms which surfaced under hard cornering and braking. Like the earlier shear blocks, the rubber on the torsilastic tubes was also prone to separating from the metal tubes due to the loss of adhesion and breakdown of the rubber compound, which would also result in equally dangerous handling.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of the pilot Tucker’s body panels weren't hand-hammered, they were made from stamped steel panels supplied by the Hayes Mfg. Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Most of the dies Hayes used were furnished by eight different Detroit tool and die shops. Once they arrived at the factory, Tucker’s body men put the stampings in jigs where they were welded together then sent off to final assembly where they were put together to form the body shell. Certain components – such as the front fenders – were made up of numerous stampings which were subsequently welded together. One the shell was completed, the sheet metal’s seams and imperfections were filled with lead filler then ground down by hand after which they were sent off to the paint department. In Tucker’s 1949-1950 trial, Lee Treese, Tucker vice-president in charge of manufacturing, testified that Tucker Corp.’s die-stamping program was only 90 percent complete in June of 1948, so a limited amount of hand-fabrication was still taking place during the pilot cars manufacture.

May 27, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Only Three Places Open For Big Race

“30 Cars Now Qualified For 500 Mile Event Next Monday

“Indianapolis. May 26 (AP) - Only three vacancies remained in the 33-car starting lineup for the 500- mile auto race Monday after seven additional cars qualified today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Thirty-four unqualified cars remained at the track after today's tests. They will have one more chance to get into the lineup Saturday afternoon…

“Al Miller, Standish, Mich., ran into tough luck trying to qualify for his 13th Indianapolis race. His Tucker rear engine special threw a connecting rod on the first lap of his qualification run and it is out of the race. The car was entered by Preston Tucker Jr., but it had little in common with the Tucker automobile. It is one of three rear-engine cars built by Harry Miller in 1938. They were exceptionally fast but none of them ever finished the 500-mile grind.”

The very next day - May 28, 1948 - the Securities and Exchange Commission* began an investigation into whether Tucker really meant to build a car, or just line his pockets. On June 3, 1948 Tucker Corp. counselor, James D. Coolidge, was informed that the “company is under investigation” after receiving a summons to appear at the Chicago offices of the SEC. Secrecy was promised — if Tucker Corp. would surrender all of its books and records to the SEC  voluntarily. Preston T. Tucker refused, claiming that to do so would make it impossible for the plant to operate.

(*Today many Tucker fans and owners blame this investigation - the second undertaken by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the automaker - for the failure of the Tucker Corp. It certainly contributed to the substantial drop in the price of Tucker stock - scaring away new investors - however 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.)

On June 3, 1948 Preston T. Tucker was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of Chicago's *Street Club, which was held in Marshall Fields Wedgewood Room. He announced Tucker Corp.'s accessory program whereby Potential Tucker owners whopurchased accessories were given a priority when the production Tucker automobiles became available.

(*The Street Club, formed shortly after World War II, was an association of the younger executives of Chicago's financial houses which automatically ousted a member once he became a grandfather.)

Tucker also provided details of the firm's upcoming “Tuckermatic” auto drive transmission, the following day's edition (June 4, 1948) of the Chicago Tribune reporting:

“Tucker Auto Power, Drive Details Told

“Preston Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, yesterday described briefly for the first time in public the transmission system which he proposes to install in the Tucker automobile. He spoke before the Street Club, an organization of junior employee of financial district firms, in the Wedgwood room of Marshall Field & Co.

“Tucker said that only six persons in the Tucker plant have seen the transmission which has been under developments. Commenting that it is ‘much simpler’ than the Dynaflow of Buick, fluid drive of the Chrysler line, or the Hydra-matic of Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Pontiac, he said that in effect it consists of two hydraulic drives that actuate a sun gear. (A sun gear is a big gear with many little gears that mesh with it.)

“Announcement Made Earlier

“The new transmission, for which a name has not been selected, was among the noteworthy new features which Tucker in his early announcements said his new car would have. However, several of these features had not been developed at the time the company started production of a few sample cars for display throughout the country.

“Tucker said he proposes to include his new transmission as special equipment at extra cost. The Tucker cars being built will include conventional carburetors instead of the fuel injectors as originally announced and conventional shoe brakes instead of the disk brakes also previously announced. He explained that further necessary development has delayed the inclusion of these devices, but he proposes to install the fuel injectors also at extra cost.

“May License Transmission

“Tucker said he is considering licensing the new transmission to other automobile manufacturers. He disclosed he has reduced the size of the engine that will power the car, but it will deliver 166 horse power. In a run to Syracuse, N.Y., made at night ‘to avoid crowds,’ he told the group the car ran at 90 to 100 miles an hour and averaged 17 miles to the gallon of gasoline.

“Tucker discussed a plan to raise more money for the company and its dealers. Under the proposal customers are offered ‘packages’ of accessories for which they pay now-long before there generally is any possibility of getting a new car. One package, priced to sell at more than $200 includes a radio, luggage, and seat-covers.

“Assured Of Priority

“In exchange for buying the accessories now the customer is given a priority on his order for a new car. The number of each priority is to be published to ‘assure the customer that he will not be edged out of line for somebody else.

“Tucker said he proposes to require that every buyer sign an agreement that he will not sell his car to anyone other than his dealer for a year.”’ 

Two days later, Tucker became the topic of the day after muckraking broadcaster Andrew Russell “Drew” Pearson mentioned the inquiry on his Sunday June 6, 1948, 6 pm syndicated NBC radio broadcast, ‘Drew Pearson Comments.’Pearson, who had a combined radio and newpaper audience of 30 million, predicted that the SEC and pending US Justice Dept. investigations would blow the Tucker firm “higher than a kite.” A portion of the broadcast was included in his nationally syndicated ‘Washington Merry-Go-Round’ newspaper column on June 10, 1948:

“Tucker Auto In Mire

“The axe is now falling on Preston Tucker, the revolutionary automobile man, and falling hard. The first blow came last week when Tucker received a telegram from War Assets Administrator Jess Carson denying him the sale of the government's steel blast furnace at Cleveland.

“‘The War Assets administration,’ read the telegram, ‘today declined all bids received in connection with the disposal of the government owned blast furnace and byproduct coke oven, known as Republic Steel facility, located at Cleveland, Ohio, designed as Plancor 257. War Assets administration rejected these bids because they were inadequate.

“This means that Tucker will have no steel to make his cars. Republic Steel, which isn't making cars, but wanted the blast furnace, also was turned down.

“Meanwhile the Justice department has 5 G-men investigating Tucker for alleged mail frauds. Likewise, the Securities and Exchange commission is breathing hot on Tucker's back over his latest money-raising scheme. He has been trying to get his sales agencies to order accessories, even though he still isn't certain of ever producing the automobiles to match.

“Tucker has oversubscribed his stock - a total of $25,000,000 being sold to the public - and has also sold out his franchises in advance, reaping in another seven million dollars. All this took a lot of promoting for a man who doesn't know where the steel for his first car is coming from.

“Government Was Sympathetic

“On top of all that, Sen. Ferguson’s committee is investigating how Tucker was able to move into his huge Chicago plant two months before the deal was completed with War Assets. A House subcommittee, headed by Rizley of Oklahoma, also took a preliminary look into Tucker's operations, wrote up its findings and turned them over to Ferguson last week.

“The War Assets administration, believing that any struggling, new enterprise deserves a break, did its best to bring the warring Tucker and Republic Steel to terms, lined up a deal to turn over The Cleveland furnace to Republic provided Republic would furnish 77,000 tons of steel. Then Tucker walked out on the deal, demanded all or nothing.

“In order to see how far the government dared go to help Tucker, the War Assets administration offered to have a group of government engineers check Tucker's basic designs and report back what the risk would be. But Tucker flatly refused, screamed that it was a move to steal his inventions.

“Note - Officials say that Republic Steel has been equally high-handed regarding the blast furnace, wants to keep everyone out and get the plant for themselves for a shoestring.”

By June 14, 1948 the Securities and Exchange Commission had subpoenaed all of Tucker's corporate operating papers dating back to 1946. The next day Tucker Corp. ran a full page advertisement (seen to the right) in many of the nation’s larger newspapers; in others his response appeared as a letter to the editor from the local Tucker franchisee while some distributors placed their editorial in their own display ads. Those responses/letters to the editor were modeled after the following Tucker Corp.-supplied news release:

“To the Editor:

“The American public was surprised by the prediction made over the air June 6 by Drew Pearson, Washington radio commentator to the effect that another investigation was about to be launched against the Tucker Corporation, and by his prediction that the “dream car” to have been produced by this company would be “blown higher than a kite.” This Drew Pearson, as you may recall, is the same man who some time ago predicted that the Tucker Corporation would be out of business by June 1. He is also the same man whom President Roosevelt publicly branded as a liar. Ordinarily we do not take seriously the predictions or speculations made to millions of listeners without immediate access to more reliable information — imperils not only a new industry, but imperils likewise the faith and confidence of American Investors In all new industries. The fact that such scurrilous predictions, attacks, and investigations can be launched against a new American enterprise that is now engaged in the none-too-easy task of introducing a new product in competition with powerful and long established corporations. Is one that ran well make every American slop and think. What is the power that is able to dictate spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds in one investigation after another, every one of which has fizzled out?

“We are now going to press demands for a full investigation of the investigators. This time we are determined to do something more than merely defend ourselves. We believe the American public has the right to know by what sources these so-called investigations are inspired, and we intend to see that the public gets the facts. Tucker Corporation welcomes and will cooperate fully with legitimate inquiries into progress of the company, but no investigations from any source Is going to hamper or block early mass production of the Tucker. Every Important development we announced for the Tucker has been frozen for production of our first aeries. We are still operating on a cash basis. Our important permanent dies are finished, our engine is in production right now. Our latest development will be announced within the next week to 10 days, and we consider it the most important advance la automobile engineering achieved by any manufacturer in the United States or abroad over the past 20 years.”

June 15, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“SEC Silent On Tucker Plea

“Washington, June 15.—(AP)— The Securities and Exchange Commission kept silent today on a protest by Auto-maker Preston Tucker against an SEC order to turn over his records for inspection.

“The War Assets Administration also declined comment on Tucker’s plea that it reconsider rejection of his firm’s bid for a government-owned iron plant in Cleveland.

“Tucker told newsmen yesterday these situations were among obstacles he faces in his efforts to put his rear-engine "Tucker" cars on the market at a price' he 'hopes' can be held down to about $2485. F.O.B. Chicago. The Tucker Corporation chief said his Chicago plant, which he added is now turning out cars at a rate of ‘1½ to 2½ a day,’ might as well be shut down if the SEC takes his records because he can’t operate without them.

“He said he has asked SEC to let him furnish by letter any additional data it wants since he could do that without holding up production. There are 58 cars on his assembly line now he reported. Tucker said he has finances and steel to produce cars even if he doesn’t get the Cleveland plant, but he said he needs the latter to get steel at market prices so as to hold down his costs and consequently, his prices.

“Meanwhile, he said, he is now selling accessories for his cars in advance of the latter's delivery. Buyers who take sets of accessories costing $230 to $284 can get a factory-confirmed ‘sequence number’ guaranteeing them delivery of cars in sequence of production, he said.”

June 15, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“SEC Seeks Record Of Tucker Corp.

“Chicago, June 15 — (AP) — The securities and exchange commission went into Federal court today in an effort to require the Tucker corporation to produce its operating and financial records.

“Federal Judge John P. Barnes ordered the corporation to show cause June 22 why it should not produce its records in response to a SEC subpoena.

“The subpoena was based on a SEC report, of which a copy was attached to the petition as an exhibit. It stated that Tucker’s registration statement supplemental prospectuses and 1947 annual report ‘contained untrue statements of material facts and omitted to state material facts necessary in order to make the statements made in the light of the circumstances under which they were made not misleading.’

“Tucker issued the following statement concerning the SEC petition:

“‘To give them such records as they requested means that we would have to shut down. We believe this is all made part of the campaign to block production in our plant.

“Hail From Detroit

“‘It is interesting to note that only yesterday, when the junior Senator from Michigan (Sen. Homer Ferguson) levelled another blast at us, the War Assets Administration and the Kaiser-Frazer corporation, that three of the men who aided him in his purported investigation hailed from Detroit.

“‘Is this just a coincidence? of course not. I only wish that Chicagoans would fight for Tucker like Detroit fights against Tucker.

“‘As long as many predictions are being made about our company, I would like to make one myself: That the investigators will be investigated themselves within two weeks.’

“Earlier the SEC sent six experts to Chicago to study the corporation's books.

“Preston Tucker, the automobile manufacturing firm’s president, has accused other automobile manufacturers, and officials in Washington, of hampering the company’s efforts to produce a new car. He did not name names. He also said in Washington yesterday that the SEC had ordered him to produce the corporation’s books at its Chicago office. The SEC plans to center its study on the company’s annual report filed with the corporation finance division May 10.

“June 26, 1947, the commission issued an opinion relating to the Class A stock issue. It said in part: ‘Raises Questions

“‘Preston Tucker has had complete control of the corporation since its inception. The manner in which the funds of the corporation have been administered in certain instances raises some grave questions as to whether a proper stewardship of corporate funds has been consistently maintained.’

“The company’s annual report showed that as of April 30, the company had received from the sale of franchises to dealers and distributors $6,123,050 in cash and $4,696,450 in promissory notes.

“It showed that Sept. 12, 1947, the company sold 3,490,000 shares of Class A stock from which the company received $15,007,000 exclusive of expenses. The stock sale was registered with the SEC. The company reported a deficit of $5,651,208 for 1947.

“The annual report also showed preproduction, research, engineering and development expenses of $2,831,089, administrative expenses of $1,074,359 and ‘consumer influence expenses’ of $749,469.”

June 16, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Court May Bare Financial Records of Tucker Corp.

“Chicago, June 16. - (AP) - The Tucker Corporation has been ordered by Federal Judge John P. Barnes to show cause by next Tuesday why it should not be required to produce its operating and financial records.

“Barnes issued his directive yesterday after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a petition to have the corporation respond to a SEC subpoena asking Tucker to submit its records for investigation.

“The subpoena served on the corporation last week asked that its documents be produced last Monday. The company has failed to produce its records.

“The SEC disclosed that it had sent six experts to Chicago to study the records and books of the corporation, which leased the former Dodge-Chicago Aviation Engine plant here for the production of the Tucker automobile.

“The SEC in its court action it was impelled to order a check of Tucker books and records after an investigation by staff members tended to show the corporation's registration statement, supplemental statements and annual report contained ‘untrue statements’ and omitted ‘material facts.’

“The company's annual report showed that as of April 30, the company had received from the sale of franchises to dealers and distributors $6,123,050 in cash and $4,096,450 in promissory notes. It also showed that on Sept. 12, 1947, the company sold 3,490,000 shares of Class A stock from which it received $15,007,000 exclusive of expenses. The company reported a deficit of $5,651,208 for 1947.

“Preston Tucker, corporation president, has accused other automobile manufacturers as well as officials in Washington, of hampering the company's efforts to produce a new car. He did not disclose any names.”

June 16, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker Protests SEC Order To Turn Over Plant Records

“Washington (AP) — The securities and exchange commission kept silent today on a protest by auto-maker Preston Tucker against an SEC order to turn over his records for inspection. The War Assets Administration also declined comment on Tucker’s plea that it reconsider rejection of his firm’s bid for a government-owned iron plant at Cleveland. Tucker told newsmen yesterday these situations were among obstacles he faces in his efforts to put his rear-engine ‘Tucker’ cars on the market at a price he ‘hopes’ can be held down to about $2,485, F.O.B. Chicago.

“The Tucker corporation chief said his Chicago plant, which he added is now turning out cars at a rate of “1½ to 2½ a day,” might as well be shut down if the SEC takes his records because he can’t operate without them.”

June 23, 1948 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Given To June 30 To Answer SEC

“Full Disclosure of Data Asked

“Federal District Judge William J. Campbell yesterday ordered attorneys for Tucker Corporation to file an answer by June 30 to the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission to inspect the auto manufacturer s books. The Tucker lawyer, Thomas Thomas, said company would show the SEC the documents it is entitled to see, but asserted ‘a considerable portion of the commission s request could be put into the category of a fishing expedition.’

“Judge Campbell scheduled a hearing July 2.

“The SEC is seeking to examine all books, vouchers, correspondence, and memoranda relating to Tucker's sale of stock to the public and franchises to prospective dealers.

“Seeks Production Date

“It also wishes to look into documents bearing on the company s relationship with Floyd D. Cerf, Inc., the underwriting firm that handled the Tucker stock offering. In addition, the commission, has asked to inspect engineering reports, production schedules, plant tooling reports, and other records indicating what progress Tucker has made to date toward putting his rear-engine automobile on the market.

“Atty. Thomas had asked for 20 to 30 days to file a reply to the SEC, technically a brief to show cause why Tucker should not comply with the commission s request to see the books. Thomas told Campbell there is no emergency aspect to the case, and said the company already had offered to provide the SEC with ‘certain documents under certain conditions.’

“Says Tucker Refused

“This brought a strong denial from Thomas B. Hart, regional SEC administrator, who told the court Tucker had flatly refused to show any of its records to the commission, He said there is no reason why the company should not know what records the SEC wants. The records were requested in a subpeona served June 10 and returnable June 14, Hart asserted, and ‘the company knew even before then what the commission wants to see.’

“This latest in the series of Tucker’s trials and tribulations followed disclosure last week that the SEC’s Washington office had dispatched six experts to study the operations and records of the auto manufacturer.

“Termed Harassment

“The commission said it was compelled to order the investigation after a check by staff members tended to show the company s registration statement and annual report contained untruths and omitted certain essential information.

“Atty. Thomas described the action as ‘harassment’ of Tucker. Preston Tucker, president of the corporation bearing his name, did not take part in yesterday s brief court session. However, he has threatened repeatedly to name persons in high office who have been ‘harassing’ him if the government continues to press investigations into his company’s operations.”

Sometime during the day the SEC got U.S. District Judge William J. Campbell to sign an order forcing Tucker Corp. to surrender its records to which Tucker reluctantly agreed. 

June 23, 1948 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Given To June 30 To Answer SEC

“Full Disclosure of Data Asked

“Federal District Judge William J. Campbell yesterday ordered attorneys for Tucker corporation to file an answer by June 30 to the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission to inspect the auto manufacturer’s books. The Tucker lawyer, Thomas Thomas, said the company would show the SEC the documents it is entitled to see, but asserted ‘a considerable portion of the commission’s request could be put into the category of a fishing expedition.’

“Judge Campbell scheduled a hearing July 2.

“The SEC Is seeking to examine all books, vouchers, correspondence, and memoranda relating to Tucker’s sale of stock to the public and franchises to prospective dealers.

“Seeks Production Data

“It also wishes to look into documents bearing on the company s relationship with Floyd D. Cerf, Inc., the underwriting firm that handled the Tucker stock offering. In addition, the commission has asked to inspect engineering reports, production schedules, plant tooling reports, and other records indicating what progress Tucker has made to date toward putting his rear-engine automobile on the market.

“Atty. Thomas had asked for 20 to 30 days to file a reply to the SEC, technically a brief to show cause why Tucker should not comply with the commission’s request to see the books. Thomas told Campbell there is no emergency aspect to the case, and said the company already had offered to provide the SEC with ‘certain documents under certain conditions.’

“Says Tucker Refused

“This brought a strong denial from Thomas B. Hart, regional SEC administrator, who told the court Tucker had flatly refused to show any of its records to the commission. He said there is no reason why the company should not know what records the SEC wants. The records were requested in a subpoena served June 10 and returnable June 14, Hart asserted, and ‘the company knew even before then what the commission wants to see.’

“This latest in the series of Tucker’s trials and tribulations followed disclosure last week that the SEC’s Washington office had dispatched six experts to study the operations and  of the auto manufacturer.

“Termed Harassment

“The commission said it was compelled to order the investigation after a check by staff members tended to show the company’s registration statement and annual report contained untruths and omitted certain essential information.

“Atty. Thomas described the action as ‘harassment’ of Tucker. Preston Tucker, president of the corporation bearing his name, did not take part in yesterday’s brief court session. However, he has threatened repeatedly to name persons in high office who have been ‘harassing’ him if the government continues to press investigations into his company’s operations.”

United Press released the following news story on June 23, 1948:

Tucker To Furnish SEC With Company Records

“Chicago—(UP)—Attorneys for Automobile Manufacturer Preston Tucker agreed today to furnish the Securities and Exchange Commission records of his automotive company at a federal court hearing July 2.

“The agreement came at a hearing before U.S. District Judge William J. Campbell on a federal court order, issued June 16, for Tucker to show by Tuesday why he had failed to produce the records requested by the SEC.

“Thomas B. Hart, regional director of the SEC, told Campbell that the Tucker Corp., had been given reasonable time to comply. He said that the company knew prior to the filing of the SEC's court petition what documents the SEC wanted.

“Tucker's attorney, Thomas Thomas, said Tucker had offered company documents under certain conditions to the SEC.

“‘If the SEC will tell us what documents it wants, we'll furnish them’ he said. Campbell then set July 3 for another hearing and told Thomas to bring his records and witnesses at that time.”

The damage inflicted upon the Tucker organization by Drew Pearson's June column and radio show was  both immediate and devastating - employment fell from a high of 916 union members in June of 1948 to just 38 union members in July of 1948. The following figures come from Tucker Corp.'s own 1947-1948 employment records - as included in an October 7, 1948 National Labor Relations Board report.

1947 – Apr. 1947, 347 emp.; May 1947, 349 emp.; Jun. 1947, 471 emp.; Jul. 1947, 360 emp.; Aug. 1947, 382 emp.; Nov. 1947, 370 emp.; Dec. 1947, 669 emp.

1948 – Jan. 1948, 738 emp.; Mar. 1948, 616 emp.; Jun.  1948, 916 emp.; Jul. 1948, 38 emp.; Aug. 1948, 100 emp.

On June 25, 1948 Tucker put the plant on a two-week haitus - laying off a reported 2,200 workers (2,200 was a greatly exaggerated number - the National Labor Relations Board records only 916 union employees on June 6, 1948.) Tucker Corp. told the NLRB the shutdown was due to the fact that it was compelled to submit its records to the Securities and Exchange Commission, however they told the press it was due to a 'parts supply' problem, as evidenced by a June 25, 1948 Associated Press wire story:

“Tucker Has Delay Over Parts Supply

“Chicago. June 24 (AP) - Production of the new Tucker car will be halted for two weeks, effective Friday, President Preston Tucker said today.

“Tucker said a strike of tool and die makers in Detroit had cut off delivery of major stampings for his passenger car.”

Pearson's June 6th broadcast also effected the price of Tucker Corp. shares, but not to the extent that's often reported. Initially offered to the public on July 24, 1947 at $5 per share, Tucker Corp.’s over the counter* stock experienced a substantial decline during the fall of 1947 after which it leveled out in the $3 to $3 7/8 per share range.

(*In general, over-the-counter or ‘unlisted’ stocks are traded by brokers and securities dealers who negotiate directly with their customers through direct mail, advertising and phone solicitation. Over the counter firms are typically either too small or too risky to meet the listing requirements of the larger New York and American Stock Exchanges. In the case of Tucker most of its shares were sold directly to local investors through the Chicago brokerage house of Floyd D. Cerf.)

Their value remained the same into 1948, rebounding slightly during April and May of 1948 during which time they traded between $3 ¾ and $4 ¼ per share. Tucker shares temporarily returned to its initial offering price of $5 on June 1, 1948, but returned to the $4 to $4 ¼ range by June 4, 1948.

The oft-stated claim that Tucker stock became worthless after Pearson’s June 6, 1948 radio broadcast is greatly exaggerated, although Tucker shares did experience a  temporary one day decline (from $4 to $2-$3) on Monday June 7, 1948. However speculators sensed a bargain and the stock rebounded the very next day to $3 1/8 to $3 3/8 per share. Tucker Corp. stock hovered around $3 per share into July but fell below $2 a share during the fall, ending the year at $1 per share.  

Tucker shares were trading at $ ¾ to $ 7/8 right before Tucker’s acquittal on Jan. 23, 1950 after which the share declined further to $ 1/2  to $ 3/4 a share. During the next 8 months they continued their gradual decline and on December 1, 1950 were valued at 6 to 7 cents per share. By 1951 the shares were considered worthless and disappeared from the national over the counter listings.

During the summer numerous franchised dealers and stockholders began filing suits asking receivership for the immobilized company, alleging it was on the brink of financial collapse. One early suit was filed on June 29, 1948 as reported by a June 30, 1948 United Press newswire release:

“Stockholders Sue Tucker

“New York, June 30. - (UP) - The charge that Tucker corporation has failed to produce any automobiles and has dissipated a large part of its cash, resulting in the danger of insolvency and liquidation, has been made in federal court with the filing of a derivative stockholders’ suit.

“The complaint, brought against the company and its president, Preston T. Tucker, yesterday, asked the appointment of a receiver, an accounting of all assets and the appointment of a new slate of officers and directors pending an election. It also sought to enjoin the defendants from doing any further business in the concern.

“Filed by Albert J. Shapiro, holder of 100 shares of Tucker class ‘A’ common stock, and by Thomas Peters and Brothers, Inc., owner of a $12,000 franchise for the distribution of Tucker cars, the suit charged that the company had produced only one ‘experimental’ car, despite its claim that a production rate of 4,000 cars daily would be possible by last January 1, if it obtained a government owned steel plant in Cleveland. The plant transfer failed to materialize, the suit said.

“Substantiating the charge of allied mismanagement, Shapiro said he was ‘informed’ that Tucker had withdrawn over $100,000 in cash during the past year and has not accounted for it.”

July 1, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker Suspending Plant Operations

“Chicago, (AP) Preston Tucker announced Thursday the Tucker corporation is suspending its automotive operations temporarily and is turning over its complete books and working data to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“‘The SEC made a preemptory demand for literally truckloads of our files and records to be delivered at their office in Chicago,’ Tucker, president of the company, said.

“‘Tying up such records at this time will make it impossible to continue operating,’ Tucker said in a formal statement issued at a news conference.”

The July 5, 1948 edition of Drew Pearson’s syndicated ‘Washington Merry-Go-Round’ newspaper column:

“On July 1, when Preston Tucker announced the closing of the Tucker automobile factory, another scoop was scored by the Merry-Go-Round. On June 10 Pearson had revealed details of Tucker's financial trouble and reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department both were on his trail.”

On July 7, 1948, the plant was completely closed down.

July 14, 1948 Associated Press newswire article:

“Ask Tucker Receiver

“Chicago – (AP) – A stockholder and dealer’s firm Wednesday sued in federal court to have a receiver appointed for the Tucker Corporation. They alleged that the company, which has been planning a radically new automobile, ‘is in danger of financial collapse.’

“The suit was filed in federal court by brought by Edward Hubant, Edward L. Story and Thomas Vinella, all of New York, against the corporation and Preston T. Tucker, president. Hubant owns 100 shares of common stock, class ‘A’, of Tucker, the other 2 hold a dealership franchise in New Jersey.”

July 15, 1948 United Press newswire story:

“Tucker Announces Plan to Reopen Chicago Factory

“Dealers Offer Backing As Stockholders File Suit for Receivership

“Chicago, July 15 (UP) - President Preston Tucker has announced that his Tucker auto company, target of a stockholder’s suit charging that the company was broke, would be reopened for operations next week.

“Tucker made the announcement after a meeting of some 2,000 dealers, who he said had given the ‘most remarkable demonstration of teamwork and loyalty in American industrial history.’

“While the meeting was in progress, the suit was filed asking that a receiver be appointed for the firm. It was entered in behalf of New York stockholder Edward Hubant and Edward L. Story and Thomas Vinella, co-partners and holders of a New Jersey distributor franchise for the automobiles.

“Hubant’s complaint charged that the firm could not pay its current expenses and had been mismanaged. Tucker told the meeting that the suit was a ‘shakedown’ and declared that ‘we will fight.’

“His company released a statement that dealers were solidly behind the company and sought the plant's reopening despite an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tucker closed the plant last week, charging that he could not operate while the SEC checked his books.

“He announced that as many manufacturing departments as possible would begin work again next Wednesday.

“The suit said that unless the management of the corporation was altered completely, it would ‘become hopelessly insolvent and lose all its property.’

“It charged that the corporation never has produced a car except for an experimental model, that it was now shutdown completely, and that it did not have enough money to meet current expenses. In addition, the suit alleged that the company had become entangled with the Securities and Exchange Commission through ‘false and fraudulent representations and statements of Tucker relative to production and financing. The SEC last week began a check of Tucker’s books in an investigation of the firm s financial structure.”

On July 16, 1948, the plant reopened; 38 production and maintenance employees were employed ; and the Employer expected an employment expansion of 1,000 such employees in“two months or later.”

Additional lawsuits were filed throughout the summer, and one of the plaintiff's attorneys was even  forcibly detained at the Tucker plant, the July 16, 1948 Chicago Tribune reporting:

“Charges Tucker ‘Arrested’ Him On Walsh Badge

“Lawyer Files $100,000 Suit for Damages

“An attorney charged yesterday that Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker corporation, displayed one of Sheriff Elmer Michael Walsh’s special deputy badges, arrested him without justification before more than 1,000 persons and held him prisoner 15 to 20 minutes before releasing him.

“The attorney, Julian C. Ryer, 55, with offices at 100 W. Monroe av., outlined his charges in a suit filed yesterday la federal District court. He asks $100,000 damages from Tucker and the Tucker corporation for false arrest.

“The arrest, the suit states, took place Wednesday in a meeting room of the Tucker corporation plant, 7400 S. Cicero av.

“Went With Marshall

“Ryer went to the plant, the suit states, with Louis Caplan, a deputy United States marshal, who carried a summons to be served on Tucker in connection with a suit filed earlier Wednesday in federal District court asking appointment of a receiver for the corporation.

“Ryer, as one of the attorneys for three plaintiffs in that case, went along to point out Tucker to Caplan.

“Caplan and Ryer, according to the plaintiff, entered the room where Tucker was conducting a meeting of more than 1,000 persons who hold franchises as dealers for the proposed new Tucker car. The marshal identified himself and handed the summons to Tucker.

“Tucker, it is charged, asked Ryer’s identity, then grabbed Ryer by the left arm, pulled out a leather case containing Walsh’s special deputy badge, and showed the badge to Ryer. Then he informed Ryer he was under arrest and ordered one of the plant guards to detain Ryer in a private office adjoining the meeting hall.

“Sat For 20 Minutes

“Ryer sat in the office, according to his charges, for 15 to 20 minutes before someone told him he could leave.

“Atty. Luis Kutner, who filed the suit on Ryer’s behalf, said he also was in the meeting room by invitation when the arrest took place. Kutner reported he called the United States Marshal’s office which in turn telephoned Tucker corporation officials that Ryer should not be detained.

“Sheriff Walsh, whose issuance of deputy badges and courtesy cards to persons not engaged actively in law enforcement has been under fire, acknowledged that Tucker ‘is one of my special deputies.’

“‘That is a government-owned plant,’ the sheriff explained, ‘and before Tucker took it over I made some of the guards there special deputies. Later Tucker asked that he be made a special deputy, which I did, but the badge merely is for identification. He has no power of arrest.’

“Tucker Denies Charge

“Tucker denied the suit’s charges to The Tribune, he gave his version of the incident:

“‘The deputy United States marshal came in with the subpoena, and I accepted it on the platform. I noticed that the man with him was wearing a Tucker dealer’s badge, and I asked who he was. I told him he was trespassing and was in our plant under false pretenses. He said I couldn’t do anything about it, so I pulled out the sheriff’s badge and told him I could if I wanted to, but that I didn’t have time.’

“‘Then I asked the plant guards to show him to the door. That’s all there was to it.’

“A motion to dismiss $250,000 libel suit, against Tucker and the corporation was upheld yesterday by Judge Harry M. Fisher in Circuit court. The court however permitted Theodore Granik, Washington and New York attorney who once represented Tucker and who is plaintiff in the suit, 30 days in which to file an amended complaint.” 

The July 16, 1948 Associated Press newswire reporting:

“Tucker Facing Damage Action

“Chicago, July 16 - (AP) – A $100,000 false arrest suit was filed in Federal court yesterday against the Tucker Corp. and Preston Tucker, the automobile manufacturing firm’s president.

“Julian C. Ryer of Chicago, one of the attorneys representing three New York men in a receivership suit against the corporation, said in his suit he was ‘forcibly and illegally’ detained at the Tucker plant Wednesday for 30 minutes.

“Tucker said in a statement Ryer had misrepresented himself as a Tucker dealer to gain entrance to a closed meeting of dealers at the plant.

“Meanwhile, Tucker promised the radically-new Tucker cars to his 78 distributors within 30 days.”

Incidentally Tucker was exonerated of the false arrest charge, the Sept. 21, 1951 Chicago Tribune reporting:

“Preston Tucker Cleared In False Arrest Case

“Asealed verdict of not guilty was returned yesterday before Superior Court Judge L.P. Harriss in a false arrest suit against Preston Tucker of 4753 Malden St. Tucker, who headed the Tucker corporation, was sued by Julian C. Ryer, an attorneywith offices at 100 W. Monroe St., who charged that Tucker detained him at the Tucker plant, 7401 S. Cicero Av., on July 14, 1948, without any reason.”

July 21, 1948 Associated Press newswire article:

“Call Workers Back To Tucker Plant

“Chicago - (AP) - Some 300 production employees were called back to work today at the Tucker corporation, automobile manufacturing plant closed dawn three weeks ago.

“Preston Tucker, company president, closed the huge Chicago plant three weeks ago, saying operations were interrupted by an investigation being made by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The company spokesman said essential dies are tied up by a strike of tool and die makers in Detroit. Operations will be stepped up sharply when the dies are delivered, he added.”

August 3, 1948 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Sued for $52,108 in Back Pay

“A 20 man committee whose members said it had been formed to win favor for Preston Tucker and his automobile in the Chicago area yesterday filed suit in Federal District Court against Tucker corporation asking $52,108 in back wages and expenses. Listed as co-defendants were Roy S. Durstine, Inc., which handles advertising and public relations for Tucker, and Floyd D. Cerf, Inc., the investment banking firm that underwrote Tucker's public offering of stock.

“The suit, filed by Atty. Cornelius Pitt, said the 20 individuals formed the Organizing Committee for Permanent Jobs at the New Tucker Plant Aug. 23, 1946, after several conferences with Tucker.

“Aid In Fight For Plant

“One of the committee’s purposes, the suit alleged, was to persuade Chicagoans to support Tucker in his contest with Lustron corporation over which should obtain the lease to the Dodge-Chicago plant. Tucker subsequently was awarded the lease by the war assets administration.

“The committee's other duties as set forth in the suit included staging demonstrations and circulating petitions and pamphlets to show the Securities and Exchange Commission the public was enthusiastic about the sale of Tucker stock.

“Other Duties Listed

“The committee also was to solicit the support of labor groups for the Tucker organization, and create a demand for Tucker stock by distributing a pamphlet called The Labor Review of the Tucker Automobile to the general public. In addition, it was to help obtain labor for the Tucker plant.

“In return for these services, Tucker agreed to pay wages and expenses for the committee members and give them permanent jobs in his plant, the suit asserted. However, the manufacturer has refused to pay the committee, saying the Durstine organization should provide the funds. Durstine refused to pay, mentioning Cerf, and Cerf also refused, the committee said.

“Suit Fifth Legal Action

“The committee s suit was the fifth legal action in recent weeks to involve the Tucker organization. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the manufacturer s books and correspondence under court order.

“Two suits have been filed asking that a receiver be appointed for the Tucker properties. One of the attorneys involved has asked $100,000 damages on a charge that when he went to see Tucker in connection with the receivership case Tucker flashed a deputy sheriff's badge and arrested him without justification.”

August 3, 1948 United Press newswire story:

“Tucker Firm Faces New Action

“Chicago, Aug. 3. (UP) - Preston Tucker and his automobile firm faced more legal troubles today.

“The Tucker Corporation was named, with the Floyd C. Cerf Company, Inc., and the Roy S. Durstine Advertising Company, as defendants in a $53,100 damage suit.

“A 20-member committee of employees and stockholders of the Tucker Corporation filed the suit. They charged that they had helped to build good will and promote public Interest for the Tucker automobile, but had not been paid for their services.

“The suit said Tucker told them they would be paid by Cerf. Cerf, however, said Tucker would pay, and Durstine said they would be paid by either of the other two, but not by Durstine.”

August 5, 1948

“Tucker Employees File Damage Suit

“Chicago (UP) - The Tucker corporation said today that a group of employees who filed a $52,100 damage suit on the grounds that they weren’t paid for promotional work had ‘voluntarily offered its services.’ The group charged Monday that President Preston Tucker, the Roy S. Dursline Advertising agency and the Floyd D. Cert Investment firm wouldn’t pay compensation ‘agreed upon’ for building public interest in the new Tucker automobile. Tucker said the claims were ‘absurd.’”

August 12, 1948 (INS)

“Tucker Hints Hughes Buying

“Chicago, Aug. 11. (INS) - Chicago automobile manufacturer Preston Tucker tonight admitted he has ‘certain deals pending’ but refused to say whether they included Howard Hughes, airplane manufacturer and film magnate.”

August 12, 1948 (INS)

“Deny That Hughes May Buy Into Tucker Firm

“Hollywood (INS) - A report that millionaire oilman and movie producer Howard Hughes might buy into the automobile manufacturing business of Preston Tucker was denied by a Hughes spokesman today. The spokesman said: ‘There never had been any negotiations. There's nothing to the report.’”

On August 18, 1948, current employment had reached 190 production and maintenance employees; “further expansion was dependent partially on financing”; and the Employer “informally” anticipated a complement of 1,000 “in about three months.”

August 18, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Rival Firms Blast WAA Action in Steel Plant Deal

“Lease to Auto Maker Brings Demand for Full Public Hearing

“Cleveland — (AP) — Republic Steel Corp. and automobile maker Preston Tucker each promised today to fight a surprise U.S. government decision to lease its biggest blast furnace to Kaiser-Frazer Corp.

“Both Republic and Tucker expressed amazement that the War Assets Administration leased to Kaiser-Frazer the $28,000,000 surplus blast furnace and coke oven plant which Republic has operated since it was built by the federal government in the early days of the war.

“The lease, announced by the WAA in Washington yesterday, provided for Kaiser-Frazer to take over the plant Sept. 1 with an option to buy. Republic and Tucker have been negotiating in spirited rivalry for months to obtain the steel plant from WAA.

“Tucker said in Chicago he hadn’t ‘heard a word from WAA’ and couldn’t ‘believe that they did this.’

“‘I was high bidder on the plant and filled all the WAA requirements,’ he added. ‘I got options on ore, limestone, coal and all the other things I needed. I don’t see how this could happen. I still expect to come out the winner on this thing.’

“C.M. White, president of Republic, today wired WAA he was ‘amazed to note that the reported figure of $1,248,000 yearly rental you are willing to accept from Kaiser-Frazer is less than one-half of the $2,500,000 rental you were heretofore offered and now reoffer to you for either longterm or interim lease.’

“White's telegram said Republic demanded ‘an immediate, full public disclosure by you of the terms and circumstances of this transaction.’

“‘We are requesting the appropriate committees of the house and senate to review this action without delay,’ his wire added.”

August 27, 1948 INS news article:

“Tucker Gets Finance Assistance

“Chicago, Aug. 26. (INS) - The prospect of new financing for the Tucker Corp. was disclosed today when a ‘confidential’ letter to dealers and distributors of the money-shy car manufacturing firm was made public in Chicago.

“The letter, dated August 20 and signed by President Preston Tucker, stated that the corporation has signed an option agreement ‘with a very substantial financial group.’ Tucker said the agreement has been ratified by the board and that the ‘program is now in the process of final completion.’

“The letter promised that the program will make the current stormy life of the company ‘one of the finest in the industry… on a par with any other automotive corporation.’

“Tucker said details of the agreement will be made public within 10 days or two weeks. Efforts to learn the identity of the new financial group met with failure in Chicago. Reports that the Packard Motor Co. had become interested in the Tucker firm were denied. Tucker's letter said the management of the corporation ‘will remain the same under pending financing.’”

September 8, 1948 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Corp. Output Still Is Uncertain

“Prospects for any sizable early autumn automobile production at the Tucker corporation plant remained obscure yesterday as the company continued to seek new financing and supply sources and awaited results of a government investigation and the outcome of a half dozen law suits.

“As the Labor day holiday ended the summer vacation season only 12 cars moved along the company’s long assembly lines and only a handful of employees were at work in the plant. Since actual operations were started in early summer the company has produced only a few dozen cars, not nearly enough to supply its dealers, not to mention prospective car buyers.

“Negotiations Underway

“Efforts to attract new capital, considered essential to put the company on a mass production basis, still were unsuccessful yesterday. Negotiations for this purpose have been underway for about two months. The company reportedly is negotiating with certain ‘Texas oil interests,’ but differences over management were said to be holding off an agreement.  The company has not identified the Texans, or disclosed the amount of money involved.

“The company which last spring projected production at the rate of 150 to 160 cars a day by June, also is confronted with lining up an adequate supply of steel, an assignment which even the established auto manufacturers have not accomplished too successfully.

Fails To Get Furnace

“Tucker had counted heavily on obtaining the war surplus blast furnace in Cleveland which went to Kaiser-Frazer corporation after sharp protests from Republic Steel corporation and Tucker. With pig iron from the furnace Tucker would have been in a favorable position to trade this highly prized commodity for finished steel for automobile production. Preston Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, said several times his mass production plans depended on this furnace.

“The company said it also has been more or less hamstrung by the investigation of its books and records by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The commission started two months ago and is still at its probe. It has not indicated to the company when the probe will be finished.

Court Actions Filed

“The start of the SEC investigation was the signal for filing of several court actions by dissatisfied dealers and stockholders who alleged mismanagement and dissipation of corporate funds and sought appointment of a receiver. This would displace Tucker, who has been the active head in all phases of the company's business.

“He is said to have had the final word in expending a large part of the estimated 20 to 20 million dollars raised thru public sale of stock, dealer franchises, and accessory merchandising.”

As Tucker had no testing facilities of their own, in early September of 1948 a small group of Tucker employees led by engineer John 'Eddie' Offutt were dispatched to the Indianapolis Speedway with seven consecutively numbered Tucker pilots cars (nos. 1026-1032) to test out how the various drivetrains and suspension set-ups handled on the speedway. Between September 16 and October 5, 1948 the seven cars were driven a total of 13,134 miles with only a single incident, which was described in detail by Alex Tremulis in Automobile Quarterly:

“Our visits to Indy in 1948 were not all the result of our interest in racing. We had no proving ground on which to test the first of our fifty pilot models coming off the line, so we made all our high-speed runs on the highway from Chicago to Kankakee, Illinois. We were a continual source of embarrassment to state troopers, whose 105 mph squad cars were being left in our dust. Our problem was to beat the troopers to the company gates. Once we were inside, our guards would slam the gates on them. Withdrawing in defeat, they would plead repeatedly that we find ourselves a race track for our trials.

“Since we were breaking the law and did not wish to be prosecuted for it, we rented the Indianapolis Speedway for our final shakedown runs. We sent eight Tuckers to ‘the brickyard’ and ran high-speed tests for a month. We knew that if the Tucker had any oversteering tendencies, we would surely find them at the speedway.

“Actually, we did make a number of modifications there. Our rubber torsilastic suspensions were a bit too soft, and after two or three hundred miles at better than 100 mph speeds, the cars would squat two or three inches closer to the ground (Standing fifty-eight inches tall, they were just beautiful, by the way.) Rubber company representatives told us not to worry, that they would come up with the right rubber compound very soon.

“To give the Tucker extra cornering power, we installed sway bars, with the result that Eddie Offutt, our chief experimental engineer, was going through all the corners at 105 mph and was consistently hitting 117 mph (corrected speedometer) on the back stretch. This performance can be compared with the fact that eleven years prior I had ridden several hundred miles with Ab Jenkins in a supercharged Cord during a twenty-four-hour run for the Stevens Trophy. Ab’s fastest lap ever was 91 mph. With due respect to the Cord, which cornered magnificently on the Indy track, I must point out that by the time Tucker cars were being tested, the track had been paved on the back stretch where Ab, had been forced to contend with two brick straightaways. This had cost the Cord 4 mph in lap speed. Considering that both cars weighed the same, had the same frontal area and were closely related in terms of power output (166 hp for the Tucker, 175 for the Cord), we could still lap 10 mph faster under similar track conditions.

“Reflecting back, I am certain that the Tucker’s exceptional cornering ability was the result of its being truly the first of the wide-track cars. Automobiles of that day had inherited the fifty-six-inch tread, a dimension handed down from early Roman racing chariots whose wheels were spaced the width of two horses standing side by side. The Tucker front tread was sixty-three inches, the rear sixty-five, a width that has yet to be exceeded.

“After the speed tests came the acceleration tests conducted by Warren Rice, designer of the R3 automatic transmission, which was planned as our production transmission. We ran zero to 60 mph in ten seconds, zero to 80 mph in fifteen seconds, zero to 90 mph in twenty-two seconds, and zero to 100 mph in thirty-three seconds consistently. The fastest car in America then, a 150 hp luxury car at that, required twenty-two seconds to go from zero to 80 mph.

“One early morning, during the test period at Indy, the Tucker had its baptism of fire as a safety vehicle. Eddie Offutt had lapped the track several times at better than 100 mph. Rather than change the right rear tire—which could normally survive only four or five laps at that speed without producing oversteering tendencies - he reversed his direction, now circling the track clockwise. Eddie was really stabbing it that day: 112 mph on the short north straight. Later he said he thought he heard the engine backfire, and he didn't think he could get through the turn without power if the engine failed. He hit the brakes hard and took the car into the infield just as one of the tubeless tires we had been testing for production let go. The car did a grand ‘razzoo’ on the wet grass and rolled over three times at more than 80 mph, then landed on its wheels. A flash of panic struck the onlookers in the moment of silence that followed. Then Offutt stepped out, his only injury a bump on one knee, which the gearshift bracket had struck when the car rolled over. More important, even, than the minor extent of Eddie’s injuries was the fact that the Tucker’s windshield had popped out, upon impact, just as the advertisements said it would! After the blown tire had been changed, the car [pilot car no. 1027] was returned to the pit area under its own power.

“The Tucker's high-speed performance (120 mph) was the result of its inherently aerodynamic efficiency. We had a considerable advantage over front-engined cars. The internal drag of air entering an engine compartment through the radiator core was eliminated by placing the engine in the rear; thus the front-end sheet metal offered excellent air penetration qualities. The air intake ducts in the rear fenders were designed to channel and direct air to the rear-mounted radiator core, where it was exhausted through the rear-mounted grille. The chop-off of the rear also contributed to turbulence that fomented additional scavenging of the engine-compartment heat at speed.

“The low floor height of the Tucker made possible a smooth, functional underpan that eliminated the turbulence effect of exposed members and chassis components that were a constant source of drag on conventional motorcars. The roof tapered in two directions to reduce high-lift forces. Coasting tests indicated that the car's coefficient of drag was as low as .30, whereas a conventional postwar car was on the order of .52. The Tucker car consumed 52 hp of aerodynamic drag at 100 mph, as compared to an average of 90 to 95 hp for conventional cars of that day.”

Later third-party road tests of the pilot models suggested the track-testing had produced a suspension that was a bit on the stiff side, which, while good for handling, caused noticeable front-wheel lift when cornering on uneven surfaces.

On September 14, 1948, Tucker Corp.  told the NLRB that 100 production and maintenance employees were employed, warning that “forecasts now are mere guesses,” and that a condition to increased employment is “abundant” financing which is expected.

September 20, 1948 International News Service:

“United Auto Workers Strike at Tucker Plant

“Chicago, Sept. 20. (INS) The AFL United Auto Workers struck today at the Tucker automobile plant in Chicago. The walkout followed the dismissal by Preston T. Tucker, company president, of Edward Zielazny, union's committeeman who negotiated a wage increase.”

September 23, 1948 Drew Pearson’s Washington Merry-Go-Round:

“Seen talking together recently: J. Howard McGrath, chairman of the Democratic national committee, who's in political trouble, and Preston Tucker, head of the Tucker Motor Car company, who's in dire financial trouble. Wonder which could help the other most?”

Further complicating Tucker's life was the October 1st, 1948 divorce of his mother, Lucille C. from her husband of 19 years, Charles M. Holmes.  The pair co-owned Ypsilanti Machine & Co. as well as Tucker's old home in Ypsilanti. Luckily his mother received the house and the business in the divorce.

Evidence of the continually declining outlook for Tucker Corp.’s survival can be seen in the employment figures - as provided by Tucker Corp. - contained in following National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision dated October 7, 1948:

“Decisions of National Labor Relations Board

“In the Matter of Tucker Corporation, Employer and Die and Tool Makers, Lodge No. 113, International Association of Machinists, Petitioner

“In the Matter of Tucker Corporation, Employer and United Automobile Workers of America, A.F. of L., Petitioner

“Cases Nos. 13-RC-29 and 13-RC-12,6, respectively. Decided October 7, 1948

“Upon separate petitions duly filed, a consolidated hearing was held before a hearing officer of the National Labor Relations Board. The hearing officer's rulings made at the hearing are free from prejudicial error and are hereby affirmed.

“Upon the entire record in this case, the Board finds:

“1. The Employer is engaged in commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act.

“2. The petitioning unions, Die and Tool Makers, Lodge No. 113, International Association of Machinists, herein called the IAM, and United Automobile Workers of America, A. F. of L., herein called the UAW-AFL, are labor organizations claiming to represent employees of the Employer.

“The intervening unions, International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 83, CIO, herein called UAW-CIO; Pattern Makers League of North America, Chicago Association, AFL; International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 399, AFL; Local No. 7, International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers, AFL; Local 713, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers, AFL, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL, are labor organizations claiming to represent employees of the Employer.

“3. No question affecting commerce exists concerning the representation of employees of the Employer, within the meaning of Section 9 (c) (1) and Section 2 (6) and (7) of the Act, for the following reasons:

“The IAM seeks a unit of the Employer's machinists and the UAWAFL seeks a plant-wide unit of production and maintenance employees. The several intervenors seek units coextensive with their respective jurisdictions. At the consolidated hearing held on March 29, 1948, the Employer took the position that an election among the employees of its Chicago, Illinois, plant would be premature at that time because of its large scale expansion program.

“The Employer was organized in July 1946 for the purpose of developing, mass producing, and selling Tucker automobiles. In November 1947 it leased its present Chicago plant, with an option to purchase, from the United States Government. This plant was occupied during the late war by another corporation which produced airplanes. The Employer was able to utilize some of the personnel and a substantial portion of the machinery and equipment of the former plant occupant.

“In support of its expanding unit contention, the Employer introduced in evidence detailed figures of its manpower requirements, past and projected, in the respective units in issue. This evidence indicates, in substance, that the Employer, while employing 616 production and maintenance employees at the time of the hearing, anticipated an expanded complement of 9,339 such employees by April 3, 1949, and 35,000 at ultimate full productions Substantially no expansion was anticipated, however, with respect to the craft units sought by several of the intervening unions. Since the close of the hearing, we have been administratively advised of the following developments at the Employer's plant :

“On June 10, 1948, employment at the plant had increased to 916 production and maintenance employees.

“On July 7, 1948, the plant was completely closed down.

“On July 16, 1948, the plant re-opened ; 38 production and maintenance employees were employed ; and the Employer expected an employment expansion of 1,000 such employees in ‘two months or later.’

“On August 18, 1948, current employment had reached 190 production and maintenance employees; ‘further expansion was dependent partially on financing’; and the Employer ‘informally’ anticipated a complement of 1,000 ‘in about three months.’

“On September 14, 1948, the Employer indicated that 100 production and maintenance employees were employed, that ‘forecasts now are mere guesses,’ and that a condition to increased employment is ‘abundant’ financing which is expected.

“The record in this case, as well as administrative information regularly conveyed to us by the Regional Director after the hearing, discloses that the Employer's numerous employment predictions and production estimates, since its inception in July 1946, have substantially failed to materialize. While the Employer's projected manpower requirements, as shown above, are, to a large degree, conjectural, it is sufficiently evident that, thus far, the Employer has been operating, at best, with a mere skeleton organization, in the light of minimum employment requirements for profitable mass production of automobiles. It is plain on the record herein that although the Employer's sole objective and purpose of existence is the production line manufacture and commercial sale of Tucker automobiles, the Employer's operations are still in the experimental phase of development. On the facts before us, there is a substantial degree of uncertainty as to whether the Employer will successfully overcome its initial difficulties and embark upon the production of automobiles on the scale contemplated. We believe that until this element of uncertainty is largely eliminated, stability of bargaining relationship between the Employer and the representative or representatives of the present complement of employees is incapable of achievement. Moreover, as the present number of production and maintenance employees (190) constitute about 9 percent of the complement projected by the Employer for September 3, 1948 6 (2,191); about 2 percent of its projected complement for April 3, 1949 (9,339); and about one-half percent of its projected ultimate compliment (35,000), with substantially similar percentages respecting the employees in the unit requested by the IAM, we find that a substantial and representative force of employees is not presently employed in either of the units sought by the petitioning unions.

“Under all the circumstances in this case, including the facts that the Employer is still engaged in the experimental stage of operations, that a substantial and representative complement is not now employed, and that the Employer does not appear, at present, to be a going concern, we shall dismiss the petitions herein without prejudice.


“Upon the basis of the foregoing facts, the National Labor Relations Board hereby orders that the petitions filed herein be, and they hereby are, dismissed without prejudice.”

October 11, 1948 edition of Drew Pearson’s Washington Merry-Go-Round syndicated column:

“Drew Pearson Says: Sen. Ferguson Loses Reputation: As Great Prosecutor; Expected Probe Of Preston Tucker Never Came Off

“Washington - When Sen. Homer Ferguson of Michigan first came to Washington, he was widely acclaimed as the great prosecutor. This reputation now sadly tarnished.

“For though Homer heads one of the most important investigating subcommittees of the senate, it begins to look as if he runs in the opposite direction when either he or his friends get their toes slightly stepped on.

“After Senator Thomas of Oklahoma wrote Ferguson a letter threatening to expose certain extracurricular activities, Ferguson promptly dropped the Thomas probe. Ferguson, of course, denies this, says he still is investigating. And here is something else he will doubtless deny, too:

“In the spring of 1947 the senator from Michigan had a young army of sleuths digging into the Preston Tucker automobile scandal. Word from the Ferguson committee was that sensational developments were just around the corner. A big story would develop.

“But it never did. Ferguson dropped the whole thing. His sleuths closed up the Tucker books and went on to other things. It was quite mysterious.

“Big GOP Politician

“No adequate explanation ever was given, but here are some interesting facts which took place in May and June 1947 just as Ferguson dropped the Tucker probe.

“At about this time, Mrs. Dudley C. Hay, popular efficient ex-Republican national committeewoman from Michigan, and her husband were paid $17,850 by the auto man being probed by Ferguson - namely Preston Tucker.

“Mrs. Hay has been a friend of Ferguson’s. She was at that time not only GOP committeewoman, but secretary of the Republican National Committee, and had long been influential in Michigan politics.

“There was nothing illegal about Mrs. Hay and her husband receiving this money, since they are not government officials - though it is highly interesting.

“The first money they received was $7,000 in cash. Tucker’s paymaster, explaining the payment, said that Tucker had come to him late one evening for some cash which he said he needed to pay some politicians to stop the senate investigation of the Tucker plant.

“Mrs. Hay made five trips to Washington during May and June 1947, just at the time Senator Ferguson seemed about to begin public hearings of the Tucker Corporation.

“Records of the Statler hotel show that she registered there May 9 to 11 and on May 10 called Ferguson’s secret phone number, Ordway 3085. Not many people had this private number.

“Mrs. Hay came back to Washington May 15-16, and again the hotel record shows she called the Capitol several times. She returned on May 31, remaining until June 5, and on June 1 called Ferguson’s secret number twice.

“On June 11, Mrs. Hay came back again, remaining until June 13 during which time the hotel records show that twice she called Ferguson’s private number. Tucker was in Washington at the same identical time.

“Several Tucker employees state that at about this time he told them he had employed a political figure in Michigan to call off the Ferguson committee and that ‘it was the best money he ever spent.’

Whether or not Mr. and Mrs. Hay were employed by Tucker to do this job, the fact is that the Ferguson probe of Tucker suddenly stopped.

“At that time the Securities and Exchange Commission and the justice department also were investigating Tucker and they reported that Ferguson’s agents were so busy at the Tucker plant it looked as if the senate probe would get started long before the government could finish its work.

“That was one year and a half ago. Meanwhile the Ferguson probe never has come off. The justice department is shortly calling a grand jury in Chicago to get to the bottom of Mr. Tucker’s unusual activities - but, for reasons best known to the senator from Michigan, he changed his mind about this scandal which already has cost the investigating public around $20,000,000.”

October 14, 1948 United Press newswire article:

“File Suit on Tucker Firm

“Complaint Asks for Receivership

“Chicago, (UP) - An amended complaint filed in federal court Thursday charged the Tucker corporation with misconduct of its affairs and demanded appointment of a receiver for the automobile firm.

“The original suit, filed last July 14 and subsequently dismissed, named as defendants the corporation and its president, Preston Tucker.

“The amended complaint filed Thursday, named in addition 13 officers and former officers of the firm, its financial underwriter and Tucker's mother.

“The complaint was filed on behalf of stockholders Edward Hrubant and Vito Lacovara, and copartners Edward L. Story and Thomas Vinella, holders of a distributor franchise for automobiles to be produced by Tucker.”

October 14, 1948 Associated Press newswire article:

“Charge Tucker Used 1942 Auto, Claimed It Was New Design

“Chicago – (AP) - Four plaintiffs obtained federal court permission today to file a second amended complaint charging Preston T. Tucker, automobile builder, and 17 other defendants with conspiring to defraud stockholders.

“Among charges in the amended complaint are:

“That the first ‘Tucker Torpedo’ which was advertised as having just come off the assembly lines was in reality a hand-built, redesigned 1942 Oldsmobile. That Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, bought an airplane for $40,000 of the corporation’s money and leased it to the company for $6,000 a month.

“That Tucker used corporation money to buy a home near Bogota, Columbia, South America.”

October 15, 1948 INS newswire story:

“Tucker Heads Blast New Suit Against Firm

“CHICAGO - (INS) - Charges filed in an amended dealer-stockholders' suit against the Tucker Corporation were branded as ‘ridiculous’ today by the firm's officials. President Preston Tucker was charged in the petition entered yesterday in Chicago Federal Court with ‘dissipating’ $5,500,000 and ‘pocketing $100,000 for his own use.’ The petition also named 16 officers of the company.

“The suit asks that a receiver be appointed for the corporation, its assets be liquidated and that $150, 000 damages be paid the two dealers for the manufacturer's failure to deliver cars.

“The petition alleges that the widely heralded Tucker Torpedo actually is a reconstructed 1942 Oldsmobile and that no blueprints existed from which the firm's engine 580 was built.

“The Tucker officials denied the company has ‘no engineering designs and no cars.’ They asserted that the Tucker Torpedo had been tested at the Indianapolis Speedway and that 35 models now are operating ‘in all parts of the country.’

“The officers declared that production lines, plans and schedules ‘are partly completed and equipment ordered and available.’ The suit was brought by Edward L. Story and Thomas Vinella, Tucker dealers in New York City, and by Edward Hrubant and Vito Lacovara, stockholders.”

October 16, 1948 Chicago Tribune:

“FBI Quizzes Former Aides of Tucker

 “Promises of Car Sales Studied

“At least five former Tucker Corporation sales executives have been  by federal bureau of investigation agents in Chicago, it was learned yesterday. The questioning of all these men dealt with promises made in writing by Tucker and by the corporation concerning the delivery of Tucker automobiles to dealers throughout the country, it was disclosed.

“The department of Justice has assigned 40 FBI agents to the inquiry into the Tucker corporation’s actions and those of its officers. This corps of agents includes those in Chicago and elsewhere. Purchases of equipment, payment for services, and negotiations for several of the plants sought by or bought by the Tucker corporation are of interest to these inquirers, it was reported.

“Military Aids Inspect Plant

“Simultaneously, it was revealed that the military air services and at least three aircraft engine manufacturers recently sent committees of engineers and inspectors through the Tucker plant at 7400 S. Cicero av. Although spokesmen for the Army, Navy, and Reconstruction Finance  corporation in Washington yesterday said no move to take over the plant for a  of defense aero engine manufacturing has yet been made, it was indicated that such a plan is under consideration.

“The enormous Tucker plant - now under lease from the war assets division of RFC was used in the war for the manufacturing of high horsepower Wright aero engines. Although stripped now of the machine tools used in those operations its bays are suited for precision manufacturing. The committees which visited the place contained surveyors from the Pratt & Wihitney division of United Aircraft, General Electric company, and Westinghouse Electric corporation. All three now build military gas turbine (jet) engines.

“Offered Half Of Plant

“Preston Tucker, president of the corporation bearing his name, yesterday denied that the government has made any move to put him out of the factory. He said, however, that he offered the government half of the plant for war work, and offered in the name of the corporation to build jet, piston, or any other type of aircraft engine desired.

“From the Securities and Exchange Commission at Washington came word that the examination being made by Chicago representatives into all the corporation’s records is far from completed. The SEC's Chicago office has a large force going through the corporation’s papers.

“20 Days For Answer

“Along with these developments yesterday were several before Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe on the amended complaint, asking appointment of a receiver, filed Thursday by two stockholders and two dealers. This complaint asked for liquidation of the corporation and payment of damages.

“Judge Igoe first granted the Tucker corporation 20 days to answer the complaint. Then he set Nov. 19 as a date for hearing twin motions made by Atty. Luis Kutner on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“The first of these was for a court order to direct Tucker personally to submit to questioning for deposition purposes. The second was for the immediate appointment of a receiver. Kutner also presented a petition requesting a court ruling on a motion to show cause why Tucker should not be held in contempt for his refusal to answer questions at a deposition hearing held Aug. 10.

“At that time Tucker, on the advice of his attorneys, announced he would not answer questions.

“The amended complaint not only cited the corporation and Preston Tucker but also named the latter’s mother, Mrs. Lucille Holmes, owner of the Ypsilanti, Mich., Machine and Tool company; Floyd D. Cerf company, underwriter that handled the Tucker stock offering, and 14 other Tucker officers and directors.”

October 28, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Tucker Dealers Promise Aid To Manufacturer

“Chicago, Oct. 28 – (INS) – Full cooperation has been promised the Tucker Corporation in expediting delivery of its cars by the newly-formed Tucker distributors and dealers committee.

“George R. McKinney of Buffalo, N.Y., head of the committee, pledged support in a telegram to corporation president Preston Tucker. McKinney wired:

“‘Please be assured that if you have any constructive program that will expedite delivery of cars, the committee will be one-hundred per cent behind it and will do everything in its power to assist.’

“McKinney’s group announced its formation earlier this week and launched a program to get financial help for the firm which has been beset with money difficulties.

“The committee also proposed conversion of the Chicago plant to war production and suggested the securing of executives experienced in the manufacture of both war machines and automobiles.”

Thirty-seven pilot-production 1948 Tuckers (nos. 1000-1035) were produced before Tucker formally ended production on November 2, 1948 after which Tucker Corp.’s 3-member design team - Philip S. Egan, Audrey Moore and Alex Tremulis - were locked out of the plant and began looking for new jobs.

Pilot cars nos. 1036-1042 were mostly complete but were in engineering awaiting transmissions. After the plant closed, John ‘Eddie’ Offutt and a small group of employees were allowed to enter the plant and in order to assemble as many vehicles as they could until they had exhausted the supply of parts. There were 8 completely unfinished body shells and many other parts left when they were subsequently ordered to vacate the plant after it was surrendered to the firm’s receivers on March 3, 1949.

November 4, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Tucker to Fight Fraud Charge

“Chicago, Nov. 3. (INS) - Preston Tucker, Chicago automobile manufacturer Thursday was preparing to fight a suit brought against him and 10 other defendants for alleged conspiracy to defraud stockholders.

“Tucker branded the suit ‘malicious, in bad faith, and wholly unfounded.’

“Tucker added in answering the suit Wednesday that the plaintiffs ‘have such unclean hands as to bar them from any relief in a court of equity.’

“The plaintiffs are Edward Hrubant and Vita William Lacouvara, stockholders, and Edward L. Short and Thomas Vinella, Tucker dealers.

“The suit asks an accounting of all money the corporation has received and asks that the court appoint a receiver to take over the corporation assets.”

Throughout the fall and winter of 1948 various Tucker Corp. officials and directors resigned, punctuated alternately by additional stockholder lawsuits. Copies of the resignations were invariably sent to newspaper offices and wire services, one example - the sixth of the year - appeared in the November 17, 1948 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Morley Out as Officer for Tucker

“Herbert Morley, who has been In charge of materials procurement for Tucker corporation since Its formation, yesterday resigned as vice president and director of the company.

“In a public letter to the board of directors Morley charged that Preston T. Tucker, president, exerts ‘dominating influence’ in the company and recently has withheld information concerning the corporation’s financial status even from his own directors.

“Impossible to Serve

“‘I am now convinced that it is impossible for me to serve any longer,’ Morley wrote. ‘It seems obvious that no business can be properly operated under such conditions.’ The letter, in full, was made public by Morley's attorney, Elmer W. Freytag.

“Morley remains a defendant in the stockholders’ suit for an accounting of the corporation’s assets and appointment of a receiver which is scheduled for hearing before Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe next Friday.

“Shortages Are Denied

“Morley was one of the last remaining original Tucker directors and officers. Tucker corporation’s officials have resigned or separated themselves from the company in rapid succession during the corporation’s stormy term of existence. Morley cryptically stated to his attorney, according to Freytag, that allegations concerning materials shortages at the Tucker plant, 7401 South Cicero av., are untrue, and added that at no time have production schedules there been delayed because of shortages.

“Morley was connected with several automobile manufacturing concerns in Detroit before coming to Chicago with Tucker after V-J day,”

November 20, 1948 United Press newswire article:

“Tucker to Have Bankrupt Hearing

“Chicago, (AP) - Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe today set Dec. 17 for a hearing on whether the Tucker Automobile Corporation is bankrupt.

“Igoe yesterday over-ruled a motion to dismiss a stockholder's suit with charges that the firm is insolvent.

“Stockholders asked for an injunction to prohibit company president Preston Tucker, who hopes to produce a new rear-engine car, from disposing of any of the firm's assets pending the hearing. Igoe denied the injunction petition as unnecessary.

“The stockholders charged that the company has been mismanaged and should be placed in the hands of a receiver. Company attorneys argued that the plaintiffs had failed to seek a remedy for the alleged mismanagement by appealing to the board of directors.

“Suing are four holders of a distributor's franchise.

“Their attorney, Louis Kutner, said Tucker does not have an assembly line and, ‘has less than 100 employees — we must stop him before he further reduces the assets.’ Tucker's own financial report, Kutner, said, shows the firm is now nearly $1,000,000 in the red.”

November 24, 1948 Associated Press wire story:

“Tucker Says Corporation ‘Is Long Way From Broke’

“Washington (AP) - Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker corporation, said Tuesday night his Chicago auto plant is ‘closing tonight’ but will re-open next Monday.

“He said the approximately 600 employees will be idle over the long holiday week-end while he arranges for possible new private financing.

“Tucker told a news conference that a ‘syndicate of well-known people’ is considering financing totaling about $10,000,000.

“He said he also has asked the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for a loan of $30,000,000 over an 18-month period.

“Asked about the current financial condition of the automobile firm, Tucker said: ‘The Tucker corporation is a long way from broke.’ He told newsmen the company has current assets of about $8,700,000 and liabilities of about $2,100,000.”

November 24, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Super-Salesman Tucker Shops for $40 Million

“Chicago - (INS) - Super-salesman Preston Tucker went shopping today for $40,000,000. The huge Chicago automobile plant headed by Tucker was closed following the announcement last night that, it would shut down until Monday ostensibly because of a shortage of funds.

“In Washington, Tucker declined to give a reason for the shutdown. The company, however, has been in financial trouble for the past year. Several receivership suits are pending against the Tucker corporation in U.S. District Court at Chicago.

“R.X. Parsons, public relations director for the firm, and son-in-law of Tucker, announced the temporary closing of the plant in Chicago.

“Keep Small Staff

“Parsons said only a maintenance staff of about 50 persons was retained. More than 100 workers were laid off.

“He said that rehiring would begin with the reopening Monday.

“Tucker was reportedly seeking additional financial backing in Washington. He said he has only enough money to keep going on his present preproduction scale until next February, but added he hoped to have some ‘good news’ by Monday.

“Meanwhile, he added, he hopes to raise $40,000,000 and indicated the money would be put up by a new syndicate, reported by LaSalle street (Chicago) sources to be Washington and New York interests.

“Seeks RFC Loan

“Tucker's firm is also socking a $30,000,000 loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to become available over a 16-month period. His request for this capital was filed about six weeks ago, but attitude toward the request.

“Tucker told a Washington news the RFC has indicated its conference that ‘this corporation is one hell of a long way from being broke.’

“He did not comment on the petition filed by three creditors in Chicago to declare the firm bankrupt.

“Tucker said he would ‘save’ about $85,000 in the brief shutdown of his Chicago plant. He added that from 45 to 50 per cent of the firm's 600 workers will be recalled to work Monday.”

November 24, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Preston Tucker Accuses Ferguson of ‘Smear Drive’

“Washington, Nov. 24 – (AP) – Preston Tucker, the automobile manufacturer, says his firm ‘is a long way from being broke.’

“The president of the Tucker Corp. told newsmen yesterday that his company had been beset by ‘road block after road block’ in its legal battle to get into production.

“He blamed Senator Ferguson (R., Mich.) for a lot of his troubles, charging the Senator with ‘aiding and abetting a definite smear campaign against the Tucker Corp.’

“Tucker quoted Ferguson as saying he was ‘out to get Tucker and put Tucker in jail if it's the last thing’ he ever did.

“He told newsmen he thought Senator Ferguson's alleged ‘close ties’ with the Chrysler Corp. had been responsible for the Senator's actions.

“Ferguson was not available for comment. However, he has denied previous statements that he has had connections with Chrysler which influenced him in Washington.

“A Chrysler spokesman in Detroit said ‘we have no ties with Ferguson’ and asserted that the ‘inferences’ in Tucker's statement were ‘perfectly ridiculous.’

“Tucker said he has asked the Reconstruction Finance Corp. for a loan of $30,000,000 over an 18-month period. He indicated sufficient materials are available to commence volume output as soon as new financing is arranged.”

November 30, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Tucker Auto Plant Resumes Operation

“Chicago, Nov. 29. (INS)- Chicago’s Tucker corporation plant began humming with activity today as approximately 300 workers returned to work after a five-day layoff.

“Preston Tucker, corporation president, said he had called the men back to their jobs after a Thanksgiving layoff. He said he will call the remainder of his 600 plant employees to work later.

“The much-harassed automobile manufacturing firm faces two bankruptcy suits filed by eight creditors. Attorneys are expected to ask federal Judge Michael L. Igoe for rulings on their requests for involuntary reorganization.

“A petition filed last week by the eight companies alleges the Tucker corporation owes them $8,541 for goods and services.

“Tucker, in the meantime, is planning to continue his money hunting junket in search of $40,000,000 to get the plant in full operation.”

In the December 1948 issue of Motor Age, Leonard Westrate’s Dateline Detroit column stated:

“Legal troubles continue to mount for Tucker Corporation. A federal judge in Chicago is to hold a hearing Dec. 17 on a stockholders suit which charges that the firm is insolvent. The judge warned that Preston Tucker, president, was not to dispose of any of the company's assets. Another suit was filed Nov. 22 by three creditors asking that the company be placed in involuntary bankruptcy.”

December 1, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Tucker Denied New RFC Loan

“Washington, Nov. 30 (INS) - The Reconstruction Finance Corp. disclosed Tuesday that it has denied a new loan of $30,000,000 to auto manufacturer Preston Tucker. RFC chairman Harley Wise said Tucker's latest request was denied this month at an executive meeting of the corporation's directors.”

December 2, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker Given Delay by Court

“Chicago - (AP) - Preston Tucker today won a court delay in a suit to throw his automobile firm into receivership.

“A suit by two dealers and stockholders was delayed today by Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe. He put off a hearing from Dec. 17 to Jan. 12. He said two bankruptcy suits set for Dec. 15 should be disposed of first.

“The delay is important to Tucker because receivership would jeopardize his War Assets Administration lease on the $171,000,000 plant he occupies on Chicago’s southwest side.”

December 2, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“New Stock Issue Studied by Tucker

“Chicago - (INS) - A $20 million stock issue for the Tucker Corporation was being considered today by Chicago investment broker Floyd D. Cerf, who underwrote the original $20 million issue.

“Cerf said that if the proposal were put into operation the stock would be sold by subscription to present stockholders. He said the offer would be made on the basis of three shares for every one the shareholders now own.

“The broker indicated last night that the stock would sell at the current rate now being paid for the previous issue, which is not listed on the exchanges.

“Preston Tucker, head of the automobile manufacturing firm, has been trying to raise $40 million to get his factory in full production. It has been shut down virtually since summer. Tucker said yesterday he had not given up hope of getting a ‘substantial government loan’ although the Reconstruction Finance Corporation refused his application for $30 million.

“The auto maker held a secret meeting with dealers at his Chicago plant and suggested that they pay immediately about $3,750,000 in ‘overdue notes’ on their Tucker franchises.”

December 7, 1948 United Press newswire article:

“Tucker Grimly Battles To Save His Automobile Firm

“Chicago – (UP) – Never-say-die Preston Tucker battled Tuesday to save an auto firm that began with $25,000,000 and the world’s most modern factory, but still hasn’t been able to mass-produce a single car.

“It was two-and-a-half years ago that Tucker began with a promise to give the car-hungry public a radical new rear-engine automobile. Today, most of his resources gone, he is searching for new cash to pump into the faltering enterprise.

“He is working against time, because next week he must explain to a federal judge why his Tucker Corporation should not be declared bankrupt.

“The short history of the corporation records almost as many battles as the Civil War. Tucker has been embroiled with the government, his dealers, creditors and his own executives.

“Vague Charges.

“From time to time he has made vague charges that the major auto interests in Detroit have been responsible for all this trouble. Also from time to time he has published full-page newspaper advertisements promising that his Tucker Torpedo is only a few months away from mass production.

“Actually, company sources say only 49 cars have been hand made at the huge plant here. These models have been flown in the company’s private plane to exhibitions throughout the country.

“Tucker started with a victory when in July, 1946, he was successful in leasing his 475-acre plant from the War Assets Administration. The former Dodge wartime aircraft engine plant has been called the finest industrial site in the world.

“Tucker won, however, only after a sharp struggle with prefabricated housing manufacturers who also wanted the plant, and his troubles have grown ever since.

“Executives Quit.

“More than a year ago the first of a number of executives resigned. Some of them publicly attacked Tucker’s operation of the enterprise as they left.

“Although Tucker reportedly promised WAA he would employ 35,000 workers in his plant, the actual number of employees hit a peak of 2,200 last May. Most of these were laid off temporarily about a month later when the Securities and Exchange Commission began a sweeping investigation of the company’s financing. The investigation is continuing.

“Troubles began mounting in earnest when stockholders filed a suit asking that the firm be placed in receivership.

“Meanwhile the sprawling plant virtually is closed. Tucker closed it 10 days ago with announcement he was seeking new capital and would reopen in a few days. Only a few maintenance workers have been recalled.

“Flying Trips

“Tucker has spent the intervention time on flying trips around the country in quest of capital and in meetings with his dealers, whom he asked to help out by paying up the notes they gave for franchises.

“Associates describe Tucker as an incurable optimist, but there are signs he may be getting discouraged. Recently he was asked if he thought he would find the millions apparently needed to save his company.

“‘Now you’ve asked the $64 question,’ Tucker sighed.”

December 11, 1948 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker Offers To Quit Post

“Chicago, Dec 10 (AP) - Preston Tucker Friday offered to quit as president of Tucker Corporation. He made the offer, he said, ‘If it would insure adequate financing to produce automobiles’ by the company.

“Tucker Corporation currently is involved in a series of law suits in federal court. The company is in need of capital to continue operations.

“In a press statement, Tucker said: ‘Self-appointed dealer representatives, particularly the so-called Protective Committee, have asserted they have ample financing available of a reported $35,000,000.’

“‘They have charged repeatedly that private financing has been withheld because of my position as founder and president of the corporation.’

“‘I asserted to our board of directors more than two months ago that I would be glad to step aside if such action will honestly further any plan to protect the dealers and stockholders. My first interest is the earliest possible production of automobiles.’”

December 16, 1948 International News Service wire story:

“Must Answer Bankruptcy Charges By December 22

“Chicago, Dec. 16 - (INS) - The sorely-beset Tucker Corporation today had had until Dec. 22 to present briefs answering two involuntary bankruptcy suits.

“The Chicago automobile manufacturing firm also was ordered by Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe to present a financial audit on Jan. 4.

“Eight creditors filed the action covering claims amounting to about $11,000.

“Judge Igoe ruled yesterday that both suits - one asking for reorganization of the fledgling concern and the other seeking its liquidation - be consolidated for a hearing Jan. 4.

“Attorney Carroll Teller, who represents the creditors asking that the corporation be liquidated, told the court:

“‘It is apparent that unless Tucker (Preston Tucker, president of the firm) can work out new arrangements with the War Assets Administration and get at least $60 million additional financing, the corporation is simply out of business as far as auto manufacturing is concerned.”

December 17 Associated Press newswire story:

“Judge Declines to Order Tucker to Testify

“Chicago, Dec. 17. (AP) - Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe today refused to order Preston Tucker and other officers to testify immediately concerning the financial status of the Tucker Corp.

“Judge Igoe declined to order the testimony pending filing of an answer to a bankruptcy suit now pending against the company in his court.

“Attorneys in the suit asked that he order Tucker and 16 other officers to be brought into court Monday. Judge Igoe continued the motion to Dec. 22, when Tucker's answer is due to be filed.”

January 5, 1949 United Press newswire story:

“Tucker Corp. to Remain in Status Quo

“Chicago - (UP) - A restraining order was issued today to insure that the Tucker Corp. will be maintained in status quo while attempts at refinancing are made.

“The order, issued by Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe, was agreed upon in advance by opposing counsel in a stockholders’s suit against the company.

“The order prevents company president Preston Tucker from disposing of any of his stock. It also orders the company to continue its ‘shutdown’ status at its plant, where it seeks to produce rear-engine automobiles.

“Under the ‘shutdown’ status, only maintenance work will be permitted by skeleton crews.”

January 5, 1949 United Press newswire story:

“Outside Manufacturer Reported As Aiding Tucker Corporation

“Toledo, (UP) - James D. Mooney, head of Willys-Overland Motors, said today that the buyer's market for automobiles and trucks has returned. Mooney commented on market conditions in denying reports that he had been negotiating a merger with the Tucker Corporation of America, which has failed to get into mass production of a new car.

“‘The return of the buyer’s market for automobiles and trucks is here and will demand increased efficiency in production and distribution,’ Mooney said.

“‘This in turn will induce discussions of mergers in the automotive field, but there are no negotiations whatsoever going on between Tucker and me,’ he said.

“A bankruptcy suit is pending in federal court in Chicago against Tucker. Attorneys for Preston Tucker, president of the corporation, obtained a 60-day delay in the hearing Monday by telling the court that an outside manufacturer had agreed to go to Tucker's financial assistance.”

January 18, 1949 United Press newswire story:

“Supports Tucker

“Chicago, Jan. 18 - (UP) - Otis R. Radford, retiring $1,000-amonth treasurer of the Tucker Corp., said today that he was ‘still 103 per cent for the company and President Preston Tucker.’

“The company faces several bankruptcy and receivership suits. Federal court froze all operations of the firm last week, including the salaries of all executives except Radford and one other.”

January 25, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Angel Now Only Ghost, Says Tucker

“Court Continues 60 Day Delay

“Preston Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, admitted in court yesterday that the unnamed ‘angel’ once reported on the verge of bailing the company out of its financial difficulties has become a ghost. However, Tucker told United States District Judge Michael L. Igoe he was talking with five other groups interested in helping the company, and he asked Igoe to keep in effect the 60 day postponement of the various court proceedings against the corporation.

“This Igoe agreed to do, but after commenting, ‘I don’t have the least bit of confidence in the remarks Mr. Tucker has made here. There has been no progress made since this matter was last before the court. I am still going to carry on the postponement until March 3 because of the stockholders, not because I have any faith in any of Mr. Tucker’s statements.’

“Thomas Reports To Court

“That the widely heralded prospective backer to whom the postponement was granted has disappeared was disclosed first by Atty. Thomas Thomas, representing Tucker. Appearing in court to present a progress report, Thomas said the man or men had advised their own attorneys that they had investigated the company’s assets and decided they had no further interest in the matter.

“Thomas said the attorneys had been so advised Jan. 19, only 16 days after the 60 day postponement of court proceedings had been ordered, to give Tucker a chance to complete negotiations.

“The lawyer further told the court ‘Tucker corporation has practically exhausted its cash resources’ in maintaining its plant on a shutdown basis since Jan. 6. He said the War Assets Administration has agreed to liquidation of $230,000 of government notes it holds as collateral from Tucker, and asked Igoe to approve the action.

Denies They Knew Of Pact

“Assistant United States Atty. John P. Lulinski said neither he nor his superior, United States Atty. Otto Kerner Jr., as the government’s lawyers in the case, knew anything about the WAA making such an agreement. The judge deferred ruling on the matter pending conference between the government’s and Tucker’s attorneys.

“Igoe then permitted Tucker himself to make a statement. Tucker said he had been working night, and day to find financial assistance for his company. He asserted the five groups who are current prospective sources of aid include a West coast syndicate, an eastern syndicate, two large companies scrutinizing the advantages of a merger, and an ‘internationally known’ banker he had talked with in Washington.

“Igoe refused to grant a Tucker request to use about $130,000 of funds on deposit in the City National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago and the American National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago for maintenance and other plant expenses. Lulinski objected successfully on the ground the government has liens against the accounts for withholding tax money.”

January 25, 1949 Associated Press newswire story:

“Financial Backer For Tucker Pulls Out; Job Too Large

“Chicago, Jan. 25 (AP) - An un-named financial backer for Preston Tucker has pulled out of the picture.

“Nonetheless, a stay order against all legal proceedings remains in effect. After Tucker Informed him yesterday of the backers withdrawal, Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe refused to change the order.

“Under the order all proceedings against the automobile company are stayed until March 3. Tucker, president of his company, told the court his backer withdrew because the project was too large.

“Tucker said, however, that five other groups have shown an interest in the company, including a west coast syndicate with 25 to 50 million dollars to invest.”

February 6, 1949 Associated Press newswire story:

“Money Troubles Batter Tucker Venture

“Still Fighting For Novel Auto

“Chicago - (AP) - Preston Tucker is a well-built, well-dressed man with a genial face and a gregarious personality who spends a lot of time conferring with lawyers.

“His legal bouts arise from the fact he is founder, president and all-around boss of Tucker corporation, a post-war company started with the aim of producing an evolutionary automobile. The corporation is in trouble, and so is Tucker.

“The story begins with the idea of manufacturing a car so new, so different, that it would make all others look like something left over from the days when old Dobbin pulled the one-horse shay.

“The basic idea - not new - was to take the engine from the front of the automobile and put it in the rear. Subsidiary ideas included:

“Air-cooled disc brakes and individual wheel suspension.

“Hydraulic torque converters; which would eliminate the clutch transmission, drive shaft and differential.

“Built-in air conditioning and all-around steel bumpers.

“An armor-like ‘safety chamber’ to give front seat passengers a place to duck when confronted with an on-coming truck.

“Glass that would disintegrate upon impact without cutting edges or slivers, and a safety glass windshield which could be pushed out but not in.

“A sponge rubber ‘crash pad’ cowl.

“Headlights Turn

“Headlights and front wheel fenders which would turn with the cars direction.

“Doors that would slide up into the roof.

“Elimination of the flywheel, ring gear, and in all, 800 parts of the conventional automobile.

“This automobile was the brainchild of Preston Tucker, 44 years old, enthusiastic, visionary, energetic.

“Tucker had been around the automobile industry since going to work for Cadillac as a 13-year-old office boy. Mostly, he had been a salesman, sales manager and distributor with an intense desire to see the engine in an automobile get behind the riders.

“Late in 1945 and early 1946 Tucker started talk publicly of a radically new automobile. He received much publicity in newspapers and magazines.

“Tucker made his first official announcement of the ‘Tucker Torpedo’ Feb. 11, 1946.

“Tucker needed a great many things to produce his automobile. The two most important were: 1 – a plant; 2 – some money.

“After much argument, during which Tucker picked up a law suit or two, the War Assets Administration gave Tucker a lease on the Dodge-Chicago plant southwest of Chicago. 16 buildings over 475 acres used during the war to build airplane engines. Part of the terms, were that Tucker had to have assets of $15,000,000 by March 1, 1947, a deadline later extended.

“Had Something New

“The postwar world was ready for something new and daring and Tucker said he had it.

“By October, 1946 Tucker had completed arrangements to get some money. The deal was worked out with Floyd D. Cerf Company Inc., a Chicago investment house.

“Tucker was to issue two classes of stock. There were 4,000,000 shares of class ’A’ for sale to the public at $5 a share. Tucker got voting trust control of 900,000 class ‘B’ shares, and 100,000 ‘B’ shares went to Cerf.

“While the Cerf firm was termed ‘underwriter,’ it was not irrevocably bound to take the shares if they were not sold to the public. The Securities and Exchange Commission later called the arrangement a ‘best effort’ deal and said the Cerf firm had net assets of $87,352.

“The company in 1947 filed a registration statement with the SEC and the SEC on June 11 ordered a hearing on the statement. It was deluged with penny postcards urging it to permit sale of Tucker stock. Demonstrations and parades by groups claiming to represent ‘labor’ were held, seeking a similar purpose. Tucker corporation filed amendments to the original prospectus.

“Tucker, testifying before the SEC, said his company would employ 35,000 people and added ‘ultimately we expect to have the largest payroll in Chicago’.

“”Permission Granted

“The SEC seven days later granted Tucker permission to go ahead with his stock sale. But in an official release, the SEC commented:

“1-‘Tucker has made no net cash contribution to the company and has received directly or indirectly payments from the company aggregating $217,670.

“2-‘There has been no substantial testing of the automobile or of any of the new and radical features proposed to be incorporated.

“3-‘Extensive test must still be made on the pilot model and such test may necessitate material changes in engineering design.

“4-‘The corporation possessed no patents on the various features of its product representing radical departures from conventional automobiles.’

“In summary, the SEC said past statements about the car ‘appear to be grossly misleading and in many cases false.’

“On Sept. 12, 1947, Cerf handed Tucker a certified check for $15,007,900.

“Thus Tucker found himself with a nationwide dealer organization, a lease on a plant and more than $15,000,000 in cash.

“‘Chicago is now assured of its first full-fledged auto manufacturing company,’ Tucker said. He predicted a daily output of 5,000 cars by March, 1948.

“Four days later, Col. H.A. Toulmin, Jr., chairman of the board of directors, resigned. This was the first of many resignations of officials from the company.

“One thing you must have if you’re going to build automobiles is steel.

“Tucker said ‘big steel and auto lobbies’ and ‘somebody in war assets’ was attempting to block him. He said he ‘began to feel pressure, a little stiletto, working.’

“That was in January, 1948.

“During this month it became apparent Tucker needed more money. While $15,000,000 looks like a lot, it isn’t very much if you want to start a new automobile company. Tucker, with not too much money to start with, found himself an inflation victim.

“By June Tucker’s ire at what he called ‘a very powerful group’ had grown intense. He placed full page advertisements in newspapers throughout the country saying ‘his corporation’s troubles can be traced back to one influential individual who is out to get Tucker.’

“He did not name the individual.

“Early in July, the SEC asked to see Tucker’s books. Tucker called this request ‘a fishing expedition.’ Dramatically he shut down his plant.

“On July 14, a stockholder and dealers’ firm sued in federal court to have a receiver appointed, alleging the company ‘is in danger of financial collapse.’

“The next day Tucker promised automobiles to his distributors within 30 days. He said 29 cars had been completed and 69 others almost completed.

“After that, there was one law suit after another. An attorney sued on the ground of false arrest; a master mechanic sued because he alleged his reputation was damaged by dismissal; amd a group called an organizing committee for permanent jobs sued on the ground it hadn’t been paid for staging demonstrations to get the SEC to permit sale of Tucker stock.

“Speculation turned from when Tucker would get into volume production to where he could get some more money.

“In August he announced the company ‘has signed an option agreement with a very substantial financial group.’

“By November Tucker was in Washington, trying to get an RFC loan of $30,000,000. On Nov. 30 it was announced the RFC had turned down Tucker’s application. Next day Tucker assured dealers and distributors at a closed meeting, ‘the door for a substantial government loan is still open.’

“Suits in U.S. Courts

“As 1948 rolled into 1949, several law suits against the firm dragged through federal courts. A South African stockholder asked to intervene in creditors’ suits, charging some were being pressed to ‘wreck and annoy’ the company. A hearing was set for Feb. 18.

“A stay in creditors’ suits also was granted until March 3. Originally it was granted because an unnamed backer was reported interested in the corporation. But the backer withdrew. Tucker told the court he had five other groups which might come to the rescue.

“Meanwhile, Tucker Corp. stock had touched a low of $1 a share bid. The plant had been shut down, Tucker’s salary had been cut off by the court, and Tucker hired a new public relations firm. He also offered to quit as president.

“‘My first interest,’ said Tucker, ‘is the earliest possible production of automobiles.’”

February 12, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Distributor Sues For Return Of Car From Tucker Corp.

“A suit was filed yesterday in federal District court by Buffalo Tucker Sales, Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., seeking the return of a Tucker automobile the Buffalo distributor purchased from Tucker corporation last summer for $5,000. The car was brought in for adjustments and repairs in December, but the company has failed to return the automobile, the suit charges.

“The agency is headed by George R. McKinney, Bradford, Pa., who says he has invested more than $100,000 in connection with the introduction of the Tucker automobile.

“McKinney and Preston Tucker, president of Tucker corporation, have been hostile since last summer when McKinney and other leading dealers and distributors organized a committee which proposed the company be put under new management.”

Among the setbacks Tucker Corp. suffered in 1949, was U.S. Attorney Otto Kerner’s February 15 announcement that a Federal Grand Jury would be investigating the activities of Preston T. Tucker and the Tucker Corp. The United Press newswire carried the story on February 15, 1949:

“Tucker To Face U.S. Jury Probe

“Chicago, Feb. 15. (UP) - U.S. Attorney Otto Kerner, jr., announced today that a federal grand jury will begin an investigation of the Tucker Corp. next Monday. The firm, which seeks to manufacture rear-engine automobiles, already faces numerous law suits and demands for appointment of a receiver.

“Kerner said the federal investigation would be conducted by the regular February grand jury, which already had issued three subpoenas in the case.

“Firm Probed Earlier

“Asked under what federal law the grand jury would proceed, Kerner said ‘that will have to be determined by the investigation.’

“The company already has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange commission. Kerner refused to disclose the persons for whom the subpoenas were issued until they have been served.

“Presumably they were for persons connected with the firm, but it was understood they did not include its president, Preston Tucker.

“Kerner said more than a dozen more subpoenas will be issued later this week.

“Other Officials Silent

“At Washington, the Justice department likewise declined to say just what the grand jury would investigate, saying only: ‘This is to be an investigation of Preston Tucker, the activities and certain aspects of the operation of the Tucker corporation.’

“Tucker, who is president of the corporation, leased a huge war plant in Chicago shortly after the war.

“To date, however, Tucker has produced only a few cars, and these have been used solely for display purposes. Tucker has attributed his failure to get his car into mass production to financial difficulties.”

Tucker's response was to hail the action as “an opportunity to explain our side of the story.” Four days later 13 of the firm's 15 directors resigned, the Associated Press reporting the news on its February 19, 1949 newswire:

“Tucker Revamps Director Board

“12 New Members Named in General Shakeup of Auto Firm

“Chicago - (AP) - Tucker Corp., the new automobile firm beset by organization and financial troubles, today announced a sweeping reshuffle of its board of directors.

“Preston Tucker Jr. remained as president of the firm, along with two other members of the former seven-man board. Four members resigned. Twelve new members have been named, all of them Tucker dealers or distributors.

“The remaining members of the old board are Fred Rockelman, executive vice president, and Alfred N. Anderson. The changes, made at a directors’ meeting yesterday, were announced today by James Coolidge, secretary of the corporation.

“Coolidge said Tucker offered his resignation at the meeting, along with Edward Offut, M.W. Dulian, Dan Leabu and R.N. Parsons, Tucker's resignation was not accepted. The others were.

“The 12 new board members are: A. J. Barry, Milwaukee; Andrew Edmiston, Charleston, W. Va.; A.A. Michaels, St. Louis; Dan Ehlenz, St. Paul; J. Frank Azzarello, Cleveland; Robert E. Northcutt, Kansas City, Mo.; Dwight Hollander, Chicago ; Edward Numrich, Cincinnati; Ellis Travers, Chicago; Frank Taylor, Los Angeles; John Mansfield, Chicago, and James Hornberger, Pittsburgh.”

February 19, 1949 United Press newswire story:

“13 Resign Board Of Tucker Corp.

“Chicago, Feb. 19 (UP) - Thirteen members of the 15-man board of Tucker Automobile Corporation have resigned and been replaced by new directors in a reorganization to give the firm’s distributors a majority of the votes, it was announced today.

“Preston Tucker, president and founder of the firm, also tendered his resignation from the board but his offer was rejected, according to Edward R. Humphrey, publicity agent for the firm.

“Humphrey said a more detailed announcement on the resignations and new appointments would be forthcoming later from R.N. Parsons, Jr., Tucker's son-in-law, who acts as the firm's public relations director.

“The 13 old members resigned en masse, Humphrey said, to ‘allow the dealers to get on the board to save the company for the stockholders.’

“He declined to explain further. He said the new set-up gives the dealers a majority on the board. It was reported that the one board member who kept his post, besides Tucker, was Fred Rockelman, executive vice-president, whom a group of dealers have attempted to put in Tucker’s place as head of the firm.”

February 21, 1949 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker Holds Car Show for Jury

“Chicago, Feb. 21. (AP) - Preston Tucker, ever the showman, staged a parade of his cars today to the U.S. courthouse where a grand jury began an investigation of his company.

“A string of hand-built demonstrator models of his rear-engine automobile delivered records and files of the Tucker Corporation to the grand jury.

“The demonstration was in keeping with Tucker's eye for the spectacular since he formed his company shortly after the end of war.

“When his first model was ready to display to dealers, he ran an open house at the plant that rivaled a grand opening of a Hollywood supermarket.

“Later when the Securities and Exchange Commission called for his records he dramatically suspended operations of his factory. He contended that the plant could not run without its books and files.

“The grand jury is charged with looking into the activities of Tucker and ‘certain aspects’ of the Tucker Corporation.

“Otto Kerner Jr., U. S. district attorney, said today's session of the grand jury will be devoted to examining the company's records. The only witness today, he said, will be Mrs. Doris Jordan, personal secretary to Tucker. She will identify the records.

“The prosecutor estimated 100 witnesses will be heard in the month-long inquiry into the fledgling automobile company's affairs.

“It is the corporation's first criminal investigation. Tucker, himself, commenting on the inquiry, said it ‘will clear the Tucker Corporation and give it the breath of life it needs.’

“Among those subpoenaed as witnesses are R. N. Parsons Jr., Tucker's son-in-law, who is a free-lance writer; Mrs. Dorothy Jordan, Tucker's secretary; James E. Tripp and his firm, Russell, Tripp and Neuwerth, Inc., public relations; and Ellis Travers and his firm, Roy S. Duristine, Inc., advertising.

“All books and records of the Tucker Corporation and the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Co. were requested by the government. The Ypsilanti company, of Michigan, is owned by Tucker's mother, Mrs. L. C. Holmes.”

February 23, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Board Warns Tucker: Stay On Sidelines

“Directors Wish No Interference

“by Anthony Wirry

“New directors of the Tucker corporation have served notice on Preston Tucker that they wish no interference from him in policy making affairs, a source close to the company said yesterday.

“In notifying Tucker that they expect to go to Washington this week to revive an application for a loan from the Reconstruction Finance corporation, the directors instructed Tucker to stay at home and take no part in the discussions and negotiations with the government agency. Several applications by Tucker for RFC money were denied last year.

“Free Hand In Sale

“The directors informed Tucker they wish a tree hand in talking with prospective buyers regarding the sale of the plant of Aircooled Motors, Inc., in Syracuse, N. Y. Disposal of this property would bring a substantial amount of money and provide the financially troubled business with ready cash.

“The plea for RFC money is expected to be made by James K. Coolidge, assistant secretary and resident counsel, and Andrew Edmiston, Charleston, W. Va., a director and Tucker dealer. With a new board in control of the company and Tucker scheduled to be replaced as president, the directors expect to be more successful than Tucker was last year. The board members are also re-contacting capital sources which backed away from the company when Tucker was in control.

“Criticized by Attorney

“Tucker drew criticism from another source. Atty. Justus Chancellor, spokesman for Kenneth E. Lyman, former technical adviser to Tucker, asserted Tucker and three former aids disrupted the company’s engineering program.

“Chancellor, who is seeking re-organization of the company, asserted his client was sidetracked in developing the car. He said. Tucker took over the engineering with the aid of Ben Parsons, former director, Lee Treese, former vice president in charge of manufacturing, and Harold Budds, former director.

“As the various groups worked to save the sagging business, government attorneys handling the federal grand jury investigation of the company issued three new subpoenas.

“Chief of Force Included

“Those named were Elwyn B. McPherson, chief of Tucker’s plant protection force, and two aids, Roy A. Berger and John A. Wank. They reportedly were subpoenaed as a result of testimony given Monday by Mrs. Doris Jordan, confidential secretary to Tucker. Mrs. Jordan was excused subject to subject to recall.

“The three guards and two other witnesses are scheduled to go before the Jury today. The others are James E. Tripp, former public relations counsel for Tucker, and Emery H. Hughett, secretary of Ypsilanti Machine and Tool company, Ypsilanti, Mich. Tucker’s mother, Mrs. L.C. Holmes, is president of the company.”

February 24, 1949 Associated Press newswire item:

“Funds of Tucker Auto Firm Tied Up by Court Rule

“Chicago - (AP) - A federal judge issued an order yesterday tying up the funds of the Tucker Corporation, automobile manufacturer now being investigated by a United States grand jury.

“Judge Michael Igoe restrained the firm from dipping into its fund to make payments of any kind for at least the next three days.  He said he would hear arguments Friday on a petition of Assistant U.S. Attorney J.P. Lulinski.

“Lulinski, in his petition, said the corporation had violated a previous order controlling the corporation’s funds. In the previous order the judge permitted disbursements for maintenance. Lulinski contended the firm had made payments since then that had no connection with maintenance.

“A grand jury began to look into the activities of Preston Tucker, president, and certain aspects of the corporation last Monday. The firm maintains a huge plant in Chicago but has not yet produced any cars for the market.”

Tucker lost control of the corporation bearing his name on March 3, 1949, with the naming of two federally - appointed trustees by Judge Michael L. Igoe. The trustees, Aaron J. Colmon and John H. Chatz. (whom Tucker referred to as Igoe’s “pet trustees”), became another news source of information about the company’s tangled affairs, the Associated Press reporting:

“Tucker Takes Back Seat In Operation Of His Company

“Chicago, March 3 - (AP) - Preston Tucker took a back seat in the Tucker rear-engine automobile business today.

“Up in front were two trustees, appointed to see if they could get the concern rolling. Federal Judge Michael L. Igoe appointed the trustees for the Tucker corporation.

“Tucker remained as president of the automobile company, but the trustees are responsible for whatever happens next. Both trustees are old hands at the receivership business. They are John Chatz, an attorney, and Aaron Colnon, a real estate man.

“Judge Igoe gave them until May 2 to report on progress. Duty of the trustees under the federal bankruptcy act is to reorganize the company, which has been unable to get into production during the last two years. More than $20,000,000 has been raised from various sources, including the public, to start the firm.

“In a voluntary petition for reorganization, the company said it had assets of $14,434,380.68 and liabilities of $1,643,175.96 at Dec. 31. But, it added, "the true value of the assets is not readily realizable.”

March 8, 1949 Associated Press newswire item:

“Tucker Cuts 69 From Its Payroll

“Chicago, - (AP) - Trustees of the Tucker Corporation, now in reorganization, are dropping 69 employees and estimate a weekly payroll saving of about $6,336. John H. Chatz, a co-trustee, announced yesterday that among those dropped and their weekly salaries are James K. Coolidge, assistant secretary, $125; Secundo Campini, jet propulsion expert, $215; and Livingston Osborne, assistant attorney and former state conservation director, $142.

“The slash reduces the staff from 187 to 118 employees, each of whom must present signed identification cards to enter the plant, Chatz said. Even Preston Tucker, president, must make advance arrangements to enter the plan where he has planned to make a new rear-engine automobile, Chatz said.”

March 10, 1949 Syracuse Post-Standard:

“Tucker Trustees Shape Plans for Aircooled Motors

“Plans to keep Aircooled Motors, Inc., of Syracuse, a going concern are being studied by the Tucker Corp. trustees, John H. Chatz and Aaron Colnon, in Chicago. They have been in conference with Carl F.N. Roth, president of Aircooled, for several days.

“The trustees were appointed by the federal district court in Chicago last Thursday, when the Tucker Corp., which purchased Aircooled about a year ago for $1,800,000, went into reorganization.

“The Syracuse subsidiary is only breaking even at the present rate of operation, Mr. Chatz was quoted as saying. Employment is down to 170 men, compared with a normal 500, and the company has only enough work on hand to last through April, he explained.

“Pointing out that Tucker Corp., drained off an estimated $350,000 of Aircooled’s $425,000 of profits last year. Mr. Chatz is reported to have assured Mr. Roth that ‘no more money will be taken out of Aircooled if we (the trustees) can help it.’ With such assurances, the United States army may be induced to grant additional contracts for engines, it is indicated.

“Talks with Mr. Roth began Monday and were continued Tuesday and yesterday. Aircooled, considered Tucker’s principal asset, was up for sale at one time, but the Tucker trustees have shelved this idea, at least temporarily.

“In the meantime, a federal grand jury continued its investigation of President Preston T. Tucker and his 2½ year-old Chicago automobile company.”

On March 13, 1949 readers of the Detroit News awoke to find a page one story titled “Gigantic Tucker Fraud Charged in SEC Report... Car Is Called A Monstrosity.” The article, written by the News' Washington correspondent Martin S. Hayden, contained numerous details he admitted were taken from a “confidential” Securities and Exchange Commission report that urged that Tucker and his associates be indicted.

Tucker responded by calling the leaked report “a rape on the free enterprise system... one of the greatest outrages ever pulled...” and an attempt to ‘blackball a baby industry.’ The remarks were given in a March 13, 1949 speech he gave in Cleveland, Ohio which was covered by the International New Service the following day:

“Tucker Blasts SEC as Enterprise Smotherer

“Cleveland, March 14 - (INS) - The Securities and Exchange Commission was under the fire today of Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker Corp., for what he called its attempt to ‘blackball a baby industry.’

“The Chicago automobile designer, in an address in Cleveland yesterday, said SEC finding as alleged in published news stories were ‘a rape on the free enterprise system’ and ‘ one of the greatest outrages ever pulled.’

“Mr. Tucker said he would announce within 10 days a reorganization program under Chapter 10 of the federal bankruptcy act.”

U.S. Attorney Otto Kerner demanded an immediate Department of Justice investigation into the leaking of the SEC report and Edmond M. Hanrahan, Securities and Exchange Commission chair, promised immediate action - rushing from his Long Island home to SEC headquarters in Philadelphia and its Washington office to follow through. However, no punitive action against any SEC staff or officials was ever made public.

March 16, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Directors Meet Tomorrow On Reorganization Plan

“A meeting of the of directors of Tucker corporation has been scheduled for tomorrow. Atty. Thomas Thomas, corporation counsel, said yesterday. Purpose of the meeting is to discuss a reorganization plan for the company which has been taken over by trustees under the federal bankruptcy law.

“A grand jury continued its investigation of Preston Tucker, president, and the company. Witnesses called to testify included John Glatt, head machinist for the Ypsilanti (Mich.) Machine and Tool company, owned by Tucker's mother; Ben. G. Parsons, president of Fuel Charger corporation and former Tucker director; J. Frank Azzarello, director and Tucker distributor, and Charles T. Pearson, former publicity chief for the automobile company.”

Drew Pearson’s Washington Merry-Go-Round syndicated column of March 26, 1949:

“Michigan Scandals

“Some significant campaign contributions have cropped up in Michigan as a result of the senate election committee's probe of Senator Homer Ferguson. The interesting question is whether $17,400 paid by Preston Tucker allegedly to hush up the Ferguson probe of the Tucker automobile scandal ever got back to finance Ferguson's campaign.

“On Oct. 12 this column revealed some sensational facts regarding the sudden manner in which the Tucker automobile probe was dropped like a hot potato by Ferguson who at that time headed the senate's most important investigating committee.

“A little over $17,000 was paid by Tucker to Mrs. Dudley Hay, then republican national committeewoman from Michigan and secretary of the G. O. P. national committee. At that very moment Ferguson had investigators in the Tucker plant in Chicago making a thorough probe and was reported ready to hold public hearings.

“But on May 9, 1947, Mrs. Hay came to Washington, called Ferguson's secret phone number which few people had; then, again in Washington, May 15-16, again called the capitol several times; returned to Washington again June 1 and called Ferguson's private number twice. Again, on June 11, Mrs. Hay returned to Washington and twice called Ferguson's private number. Simultaneously Tucker was in Washington.

“Shortly thereafter Ferguson's probe of Tucker was dropped. Several Tucker employees state that at about this time he told them he had employed a ‘political figure’ in Michigan to call off the Ferguson committee and that it was the ‘best money ever spent.’ At any rate, Ferguson's probe of Tucker not only stopped, but was never resumed.

“Some Tucker Money Returned

“Meanwhile senate investigators have interviewed Mrs. Hay in Romeo, Michigan, who has refused to say where any of the money paid her by Tucker helped finance the 1948 campaign of Senator Ferguson and other republicans. Mrs. Hay admits that she and her husband received the money, but explains it was paid by Tucker for an appraisal which her husband made of the Tucker auto plant. Mr. Hay is not an engineer, nor has he had any established, experience as an industrial appraiser.

“Mrs. Hay also revealed to investigators that Tucker later gave her six additional checks totaling $3,000 made out to the republican finance committee of Wayne county, Michigan. The checks, each for $500, were signed by six different men, whom Tucker described as his Chicago business associates.

“By this time, Senator Ferguson appeared to be getting worried. For Mrs. Hay informed senate investigators that he demanded that these six checks be returned to Tucker. This she did. Significantly, Mrs. Hay took the trouble to deposit the $17,400 Tucker originally gave her, not in Michigan, but in a bank in Clarksburg, W. Va. The senate investigation of the Ferguson election is continuing.”

April 16, 1949 United Press newswire article:

“Tucker Not Ready to Produce Cars, Trustees Report

“Chicago - (UP) - Two court-appointed trustees of the Tucker Corp. reported Friday that the financially-embarrassed firm is in no shape to make automobiles at the present time.

“The trustees, John I. Schatz and Aaron Colnon, were appointed by federal court Mar. 3 as the upshot of numerous stockholder and creditor suits filed against the company.

“In their first report, Schatz and Colnon said that ‘'it is impossible; for your trustees to attempt at this time to manufacture automobiles.’ Instead, they said, the wisest course seemed to be one of protecting and preserving the firm's remaining assets until its financial soundness can be determined.

“Pres. Preston Tucker started the company almost three years ago in an attempt to build a revolutionary new rear-engine car. Thus far, however, the company has turned out only hand-built pilot or display models.

“Schatz and Colnon said that at the time of their appointment and before, the Tucker Corp. ‘did not have the necessary assembly lines and other necessary facilities’ for making autos.

“They added that to install such facilities would require money not now available to the corporation or the trustees.”

On June 10, 1949 U.S. Attorney Otto Kerner Jr. announced the indictment of Tucker and seven of his current or former associates on thirty-one counts: twenty-five of mail fraud, five of violations of SEC regulations and one of conspiracy to defraud.

The seven associates indicted were Harold A. Karsten (alias Abraham 'Abe' Karatz), 58; Floyd D. Cerf, 60, whose firm had handled the stock issue; Robert Pierce, 63, one of the original participants in the company; Fred Rockelman, 63, also among the first to have come in; Mitchell W. Dulian, 55, general sales manager; Otis Radford, 45, formerly comptroller and Cliff Knoble, 50, former advertising manager, who had only recently sued the corporation in a dispute over back pay. The news was front-page news in most of the nation's newspapers, the Associated Press reporting:

“Car Promotor Tucker, Six Others, Indicted For Fraud

“28,000,000 Spent On Car Promotion

“Federal Indictment of 31 Counts Issued Over Deals on Unmarketed Rear-engined Auto

“Charge Fraud and Conspiracy

“Sold Dealerships, Parts, Stock, Made False Claims, Never Produced Cars, U.S. Charges

“Chicago, June 10. (AP) - Preston T. Tucker and seven associates, one an ex-convict, were indicted on federal charges today as a result of their promotion of an un-marketed rear-engine automobile.

“They were accused of mail fraud, violation of securities and exchange commission regulations and conspiracy.

“A 31-count indictment was returned before Federal Judge John P. Barnes by a grand jury which spent 12 weeks since Feb. 12 investigating affairs of Tucker and his corporation.

“Maximum possible penalties for conviction under the indictment would amount to 155 years imprisonment and $60,000 in fines for each of the eight defendants.

“25 Fraud Counts

“The counts are 25 of mail fraud, five of violating regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and one of conspiracy.

“Other defendants with the 48-year-old president and director of the Tucker Corporation are: Harold A. Karsten, 58, alias Abraham Karatz, 11522 Morrison street, North Hollywood, Calif., former Minneapolis lawyer; Floyd D. Cerf, 60, Chicago, former investment banker, who floated the public issue of stock in the corporation; Robert Pierce, 50, Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit, formerly associated with Briggs Manufacturing Company of Detroit, and former director and treasurer of Tucker. Fred Rockelman, 63, Chicago, who held the posts of director, general sales manager and executive vice president of Tucker Corporation. He had been associated with Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation for more than 27 years; Mitchell W. Dulian, 55. Oak Park, Ill., a former director and general sales manager of Tucker; Otis Radford, 45, Evergreen Park, Ill., a former Tucker Corporation director, treasurer and comptroller. He formerly worked for Detroit banks and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation; Cliff Knoble, 50, Chicago, who served as director of advertising for Tucker Corporation. He formerly was with Chrysler Corp.

“Spent $28,000,000

“The indictment charges that a total of $28,000,000 was spent by the defendants on the promotion and building of the car. The sources of the money were sales of dealer franchises, sale of class ‘A’ stock and accessories for cars sold before delivery of the automobiles.

“Judge Barnes fixes bond at $25,000 each for Tucker, Cerf, Pierce and Karsten. The bail for the others was set at $10,000 each. The defendants are accused of taking advantage of the unusual postwar consumer demand for cars and spreading ‘false and fraudulent statements and representations relating to a proposed completely new automobile which was represented to possess and combine features of advanced construction and design not heretofore contained in any mass produced automobile.’

“The Tucker Corporation raised $17,450,000 through the sale of class ‘A’ common stock which was underwritten by the Floyd D. Cerf Company, Inc.

“Diverted Funds

“The indictment charges that the defendants ‘caused to be diverted to their own use and benefit funds realized from the sale of dealer and distributor franchises, sales of class ‘A’ stock, and accessory groups. This was accomplished, it added, through the payment of excessive salaries and expense accounts to themselves by the creation of ‘fictitious experimental and development projects of the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company and by other means unknown to the grand jury at this time.

“False Statements

“They also are accused of making ‘numerous false and fraudulent statements, representations and promises through national newspaper, magazine and radio advertising, sales brochures, reports and various other means.

“The Tucker finances dropped, the grand jury reported, from a high of $28,000,000 to a cash balance of $130,000 on December 31, 1948.

“In addition to the $17,000,000 stock sale, the defendants got $8,000,000 from the sale of dealers and distributor franchise, and more than $3,000,000 for sale of accessories of the unproduced car.

“25 Hand-Made Autos

“In this period of about two years, the indictment went on, more than $28,000,000 was spent and 25 hand-made automobiles were turned out, none of which had the engineering features which Tucker contended would go into his automobile.

“Disbarred Attorney

“U.S. District Attorney Otto Kerner, Jr., described Karsten as a disbarred attorney who in 1938 was sentenced to serve one to five years in the Illinois state penitentiary on a charge of fraud and conspiracy. He served three years.

“The Cerf Company at the time of the underwriting agreement with Tucker had a net worth of about $87,000 and never before had underwritten a contract in excess of $2,500,000, Kerner said.

“The Tucker Corporation has been in the process of reorganization under the Federal Bankruptcy Act since March 3. A federal court shut down its plant, except for maintenance work, on Jan. 6.

“Originally Tucker sold his class ‘A’ stock to the public at $5 a share. It was quoted around $1.50 a share at the time of the reorganization.

“Tucker took over a huge, war-surplus B-29 engine works in 1946 to produce the ‘car of tomorrow,’ but only a few of the rear-engine automobiles were built.

“These models lacked many of the features heralded for them in Tucker’s advance publicity.

“Tucker has been around the automobile industry since going to work for Cadillac as a 13-year-old office boy.”

Bail was set at $25,000 for Tucker, Karsten, Cerf and Pierce and at $10,000 for the remaining three defendants.

June 11, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker Corp., a 1-Man Firm That Failed

“Hectic Record Is Mostly Fights

“Throughout its brief but hectic existence , Tucker corporation has been largely a ‘one man company,’ with Tucker dominating all phases of the business.

“The man who promised, but did not deliver to the public a revolutionary, post-war, rear engine automobile, was often described by his associates as one who ‘talked too much’ and ‘wouldn’t take advice from anyone.’ He quarreled frequently with fellow officers and lost several high caliber executives through these fights.

“Had Enthusiastic Market

“A onetime garage repairman who became head of a multimillion dollar corporation, Tucker started his post-war venture with the backing of an enthusiastic, car hungry public who wanted the new Tuckers with their promised automatic transmission, airplane disc type brakes, advanced streamlining, and other improvements.

“Tucker, 46, tall, handsome and father of five children, however, went from one difficulty to another as he tried to get his business in operation. At the outset he became entangled in a bitter political and legal argument over the possession of the 170 million dollar war surplus Dodge-Chicago plant which he wanted for car manufacturing.

“The office of the housing expediter wanted the structure leased to Lustron Corporation, manufacturer of prefabricated houses, but the War Assets Administration insisted Tucker had prior rights. He won this fight, but organization of his business was delayed three to four months.

“Had Row With SEC

“Then the ‘super-salesman,’ as Federal District Judge Michael L. Igoe described Tucker in court one day, had a brisk engagement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the issuance of 4 million shares of $5 par common stock. The SFC held that pertinent data had not been disclosed and several turbulent hearings followed. Tucker was a winner again this time, albeit a doubtful one. The stock was cleared for sale with a specific warning that investors study the issue carefully.

“In the semi-hysteria of the post- war years the stock sold quickly and Tucker was the head of a company with more than 17 million dollars. A few months later, however, the situation began to change as disagreements broke out between Tucker and several directors and officers. These differences produced charges and counter-charges regarding the management of corporate funds, engineering and other business matters.

“Many Officers Resign

“Tucker insisted at the time that everything ‘is in good shape,’ but Atty. Harry Toulmin resigned as chairman of the board of directors and set off a wave of resignations that involved a dozen or more top officers, directors, and executives.

“Despite Tucker’s frequent assertions that mass production of automobiles was imminent, no cars came out of the huge factory. Near midyear, 1948, the SEC undertook a sweeping investigation, a development from which the company has not since recovered. In a short time, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the probe.

“At about this time Tucker raised the cry that ‘very powerful’ groups and individuals were making efforts to keep the Tuckers off the road. He said this frequently, but never publicly mentioned any names.

“Numerous Suits Filed

“Other developments at this time included a wave of lawsuits filed by dealers, stock- holders, attorneys, former employees, and others. The federal and state governments started filing liens against the company for unpaid income and other taxes.

“Meanwhile operations were at a virtual standstill and almost all the money was gone. Tucker flew his private plane from one end of the country to the other trying to raise capital. He always came back saying he had ‘two or three good prospects’ but later ended up in Washington trying to get a 30 million dollar loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The government turned him down on this and also on a bid for a war surplus blast furnace near Cleveland.

“With these developments, dealers started holding protest meetings and broke into various factions. At least one group called publicly for Tucker's resignation.

“Master of Showmanship

“As conditions went from bad to worse, the grand jury opened its probe in February. A master of showmanship, Tucker staged a two day open house at the plant to coincide with opening of the probe and then topped this with a parade of Tucker cars thru the loop on the morning that the jury convened.

“The grand jury development resulted in a housecleaning at the top level. A new board of directors took over and promptly voted to put the company in reorganization under the federal bankruptcy laws. Last March 3, six directors met and adopted a resolution repudiating Tucker and urging his suspension as president of the company.

“Tucker, who has been living in a fashionable Lake Shore Dr. apartment, was born Sept. 21. 1903. in Capac, Mich. He held various jobs in the automobile industry with the Ford Motor Company, Studebaker Corporation. Chrysler Corporation, Packard Motor Company, and others. In the war he did engineering work on power operated gun turrets. When the war ended he formed Tucker Corporation.”

Tucker scored the charges as “silly and ridiculous” and pointed out that a so-called secret investigation like the SEC’s could upset any company, strong or weak.

June 12, 1949 Associated Press newswire story:

“Charges of Fraud, and Conspiracy are Denied by Tucker

“Chicago (AP) - Preston Tucker, under federal indictment for mail fraud and conspiracy, said Saturday ‘I have a clear conscience, a marvelous car and the will to fight to success.’

“Tucker and seven of his business associates were named by a federal grand jury in a 31-count indictment in connection with the promotion of a rear-engine automobile.

“‘I believe the mail fraud charge is a catch-all designed to get a conviction at any cost,’ Tucker said. ‘As far as the charges of violating the SEC act are concerned, we have honored the law.’

“‘The conspiracy charge is particularly distressing and repugnant to me. This automobile represents my life's work and it is foolish to assume that I would conspire to destroy my own ideal.’”

June 13, 1949 United Press newswire article:

“Tucker Asks Probe Of Probe Saboteurs

“Chicago, June 13 (UP) - Would-be auto manufacturer Preston Tucker charged that a ‘competitive alliance’ teamed up with politicians to prevent his Tucker Corporation from turning out a new, advanced, rear-engine car.

“He demanded that the US Senate launch an investigation of ‘political connections as well as competitive alliances working against us.’

“Tucker and seven of his past and present business associates are under indictment for using the mails to defraud and violating the securities and exchange regulations.

“Tucker denied that vast sums of Tucker Corporation funds were funneled into the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, owned by his mother, as charged in the indictment.”

June 13, 1949 Benton Harbor News Paladium:

“Relics of Tucker’s ‘Shattered Dream’

“This odd-shaped airplane which has been sitting at the Twin Cities airport for several weeks is one of the fragments of the shattered 523,000,000 dream of Preston Tucker; who was indicted last week on charges of mail fraud, SEC violations and conspiracy in connection with a vast scheme to build a revolutionary postwar automobile.

“The plane, a Conestoga cargo ship, one of about 24 built for the Navy during the war, was used by the Tucker corporation to transport demonstration models of the Tucker Torpedo auto about the country. In its indictment, the federal grand jury claimed Tucker and seven associates had spent about $28,000,000 in the scheme to build a new car and had never gotten beyond the demonstration model stage.

“The plane was purchased by the Aircraft Components firm of Benton Harbor about a month ago under a trusteeship auction of some of the Tucker corporation assets. It is being held here for resale. The plane has an electrically operated loading ramp that opens at the rear of the cargo belly for loading cargo.”

June 14, 1949 International News Service wire story:

“Tucker Gets Time Extended

“Chicago, June 14.—(INS)— Preston Tucker, auto manufacturer, and five others named in a government mail fraud indictment have been granted continuances until tomorrow on their motions to reduce bond in Chicago Federal court.

“U.S. Atty. Otto Kerner jr. ordered Tucker's arrest yesterday when the former executive failed to appear in court to post $25,000, bond. Floyd D. Cerf, a Tucker associate, paid the bond. Deputies were sent to Tucker's swank Lake Shore dr. apartment, but were unable to find him.

“In granting the continuances, Judge Philip J. Sullivan ordered the warrant against Tucker withheld temporarily. When Kerner objected to the court's action, Sullivan said: ‘I don't think a couple of days would do any harm.’”

Drew Pearson’s syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column of June 15, 1949:

“Tucker Indicted

“Chalk up another sensational expose for the Merry- Go-Round with the indictment of Preston Tucker last week. Ever since July 6, 1947, Drew Pearson has been prying into the operations of the notorious automobile promoter. Tucker was indicted on June 10, 1949. Exactly one year before this, on June 10, 1948. Pearson made his most sensational charges against Tucker – among them that he had engaged in mail frauds in promoting his car, that he had no steel to build his cars, that he had gone far beyond the SEC bounds on selling stock to the public. One year later was indicted.”

June 16, 1949 Associated Press newswire article:

“Tucker Granted Bail Reduction In Fraud Case

“Chicago June, 15 - (AP) - Preston T. Tucker drove to the US courthouse in one of his hand-made rear-engine cars Wednesday and won a reduction in his bond on a federal indictment.

“Federal Judge Philip L. Sullivan cut Tucker’s bond from $25,000 to $10,000. He also granted a similar reduction of Robert Pierce of Detroit, former director and treasurer of the Tucker Corporation.

“Tucker, president and director of the car firm, Pierce and six associates were indicted Friday for their promotion of the widely advertised Tucker automobile which never reached the assembly line stage despite an expenditure of millions.

“A grand jury accused them of mail fraud, SEC regulations violations and conspiracy. Bonds were fixed by Federal Judge John P. Barre when the indictment was handed down.”

June 18, 1949 Associated Press newswire article:


“Chicago, June 18 - (AP) - Preston Tucker and seven other persons indicted, by a federal grand jury in connection with operation and stock sales in the Tucker Corporation, will be arraigned in federal court Thursday. The eight officials of the firm which was to produce a rear-engine automobile will appear on charge of mail fraud, conspiracy and violations of the securities and exchange act. Tucker was president of the corporation which is being reorganized under federal bankruptcy laws. The huge plant taken over for production of the Tucker car was closed last January.”

June 22, 1949 Chicago Tribune:

“Suit Charges Tucker Gave Untrue Data

“A suit alleging that the registration statement and prospectus covering the class A common stock of the Tucker corporation contained ‘false and untrue statements’ and ‘omitted material facts’ was filed in Federal District court yesterday.

“The defendants in the action include Preston Tucker, president of the company; Floyd D. Cerf company, underwriter of the issue; Fred Rockelman, executive vice president and director; and 19 other persons, most of them former officers, directors, and employees of Tucker corporation. The plaintiffs are three stockholders, Rolland-Carlson Tucker Minneapolis, Inc., Joseph A. Godbout, and Stanley C. Walstad.

“Expect other Plaintiffs

“The plaintiffs seek recovery of $3,100 for themselves and ask the court to determine the damage to and enter judgments on behalf of the thousands of other stockholders of the corporation. Attorneys Harry S. Stearns, St. Paul, Minn., and Edward T. Morris, Chicago, who filed the action, said they expect to add dozens of other plaintiffs to the suit.

“Steams and Morris explained that Tucker corporation was not named a defendant because this would make the action a suit against the company which would be blocked by the reorganization proceedings in which the company is involved. By suing the individual officers, the action does not come under the ban of the reorganization, the attorneys said.

“The complaint makes numerous and specific references to the Tucker car which was advertised widely as a completely new advanced type of motor car.

“Many Defects Alleged

“In one instance the complaint alleges that ‘defendants knew that the pilot model was, in fact, defective; that the hydraulic torque converter would not properly function and would not reverse; that the 24 volt electrical system would not properly operate and could not be manufactured profitably; and that the sealed in type cooling system would not properly operate and that there was no manner in which overheating of the engine could be prevented.

“‘That the suspension of said pilot model was defective and would not properly operate; that that the four wheel hydraulic disk type brake system was defective and would not properly operate, and that, in fact, none of the changes from conventional automobiles contained in the test model had been engineered or developed, or made to function properly.’

“Statement Is Challenged

“The complaint also challenged a statement regarding Tucker’s qualifications as an automotive engineer, asserting ‘in fact Preston Tucker was not an engineer, had no engineering ability or experience, and had not in fact developed an automobile.’ Tucker and seven others were indicted June 10 on charges of violating the mail, fraud statutes and the securities act.

“In another paragraph the complaint alleges that Ypsilanti Machine and Tool company, despite a registration statement to the contrary, was ‘favored with contracts at exorbitant, profit to said company although said company did no substantial work for Tucker corporation.’ The tool company is owned by Tucker’s mother, Lucille C. Holmes, who also is a defendant in the case.”

Lester Velie, a highly-regarded investigative reporter, wrote a devastating expose of Tucker, his ‘dream car’ and Tucker Corp.'s questionable business and engineering practices for the June 25, 1949 issue of Colliers Weekly:

“The Fantastic Story of the Tucker, by Lester Velie

“Preston Tucker told the world he would revolutionize the automotive industry with a rear-engine car in the low-price field. But nearly $26,000,000 is gone, and only 49 cars have been built by hand - which adds up to something more than $510,000 per auto. This doesn't read like the Tucker ads

“The ‘first completely new car in 50 years’ had its world premiere one June day two years ago. In the world's largest factory, the Chicago plant where Dodge made B-29 engines, 3,000 car dealers from all over America and abroad strained for a glimpse of the Tucker Torpedo, a ‘truly modern automobile descended from race track champions.’

“Reports and rumors had told of a car that would weigh 1,000 pounds less than ordinary cars and whose revolutionary rear-end motor - ‘the most effective power plant ever built’ - would deliver up to 35 miles per gallon of gasoline and ‘permit continuous cruising at 100 miles an hour.’ It would make all other cars obsolete, said the reports.

“So exciting was the car’s advance billing that many in the audience had already plunked down up to $50,000 apiece to get the first dealerships.

“In an expectant hush suitable to so historic an event, the curtains of an improvised platform parted, revealing to the accompaniment of pleased gasps, a maroon, teardrop creation so low and sweeping in its lines that one reporter wrote, ‘It looks as if it's going 90 even while standing still.’ About as long as a Cadillac, it had a third, ‘Cyclops eye’ headlight planted in the middle of the nose. The front bumper looked like the horns of a Texas steer, and the front fenders curved like the half-folded wings of a hovering bird.

“Gorgeous girls, their lines as arresting as those of the Tucker Torpedo, now paraded on the platform, each bearing a papier-mache replica of some of the 800 parts that the Tucker had supposedly eliminated, and daintily tossed them into a trash barrel.

“‘The Tucker needs no clutch,’ piped a blonde.

“‘The Tucker needs no differential,’ announced a redhead.

“‘The Tucker needs no transmission,’ chirped a brunette.

“The models lifted the front hood and put in luggage where the engine should have been. They lifted up the rear hood to show an engine where the luggage is usually stored.

“A boyish figure, face flushed and grinning, bounded to the platform. It was Preston Thomas Tucker, the then forty-three-year-old president of the Tucker Corporation, who, unknown and unsung only a few months before, had leaped full-blown into the driver’s seat of a new and challenging automobile enterprise.

“Advertisements and press notices described him as ‘one of the nation's top designers and inventor of many automobile improvements.’

“In three months (i.e., by September, 1947) we’ll build 3,000 of these,’ announced Tucker. He bounced into the Torpedo, started it up and drove the car in triumph down a ramp for some 50 feet. Then plant police immediately surrounded it.

“‘Look, but don't touch,’ they warned.

“Backstage, behind the glamor, the Tucker Torpedo looked a little different. If the audience had been able to slip in a few hours before, it would have been in on bedlam. The car's body had sagged through the aluminum wheel suspensions and plunked ignominiously to the plant floor. The extra-heavy frame, the 600-odd pounds of lead poured into the hastily handmade body, and the load of extra storage batteries needed to start up the engine, had been too much for the revolutionary suspension system. For seven hours, mechanics worked frantically to put the Tucker together again, this time improvising new suspension arms of beryllium copper.

“Had no guards been posted at the car, the audience could have learned other things about it. The Torpedo (as Tucker's master mechanic William Stampfli later revealed) had no reverse gear and couldn't back up. The rear engine, described by Tucker’s own executives as a ‘pipe fitter’s dream,’ and by the SEC as an ‘engineering monstrosity,’ couldn't even start without auxiliary power from additional storage batteries.

“Instead of the advertised new Tucker torque converters (for automatic transmission) an inquisitive mechanic could have found two old Dodge fluid couplings; instead of a sealed-in cooling system, an ordinary cooling system with conventional water pump. The dashboard instruments had nothing to do with the insides of the car. The body was assembled, in part, from a 1942 Oldsmobile which, dismantled and cut apart, was welded into the torpedo-type body. Dubbed the Tin Goose by Tucker’s own engineers, the Torpedo would run but little on its own power. That morning, leaking oil and water, it had chugged painfully to the display plant.

“This was the situation backstage. Out in front the crowds pushed eagerly forward.

“Where Did Investors’ Money Go?

“A bizarre episode, the debut of the Tin Goose was part of an even more incredible series of events which, culminating in the collapse of the Tucker bubble, swallowed some $26,000,000 of big and little people’s money.

“What happened to these millions?

“Why didn’t Tucker get into production with his Cyclops-eyed car?

“Swarms of government probers: the FBI, the SEC, a federal Bankruptcy Court, a grand jury, and sleuths from the War Assets Administration (owner of the Tucker plant) dug for months into the wreckage of Tucker’s carless car empire to find many answers.

“Some of them, as reconstructed by SEC accountants, were:

“Officers and promoters took approximately $4,000,000 of Tucker Corporation cash. Of this, some $750,000 went to Tucker.

“The Tucker Corporation spent $1,011,000 to advertise as accomplished facts radical and experimental ideas which might be unsolvable or at least take years to solve.

“The Tucker Corporation paid a machine shop controlled by Tucker $350,000 for engine and transmission work.

“D. McCall White, designer of the Cadillac V-8, consultant to Tucker and a Scotsman, protested that the jobs should have cost about $40,000.

“The Tucker Corporation footed Tucker family living expenses at Chicago's Drake Hotel for six months. This included paying for clothes, cameras and entertainment which the family charged to hotel bills. Later, had they but known it, buyers of Tucker stock paid items like $740 for pictures taken of daughter Marilyn’s marriage to R.N. Parsons, who, fresh from college, went on the Tucker Corporation pay roll at $10,000 a year.

“The company purchased an airplane from Tucker after paying him a three-month rental fee of $15,000. The company indirectly put out $44,000 for a yacht for Tucker, for which he had paid $23,000. Ostensibly for marine-engine research, the yacht was manned by a crew of two, one of whom described himself as ‘engineer in charge of drinks.’

“This freewheeling use of other people’s money explains only part of the Tucker promotion puzzle. Some other questions may never be answered.

“How did an obscure young man without wealth or reputation win the juiciest plum in the government’s postwar larder - the $171,000,000 Dodge plant? Even more remarkable, how did he win this plant when he was already in difficulties with the government on tax fraud charges and sued by his wartime employer, Andrew J. Higgins, for an accounting of $845,000?

“How did Tucker raise millions after the SEC had questioned the way he handled company money, and California officials had barred his stock as ‘a fraud upon the purchasers’?

“Hurdles, indeed, for any enterprising young American businessman, but Tucker surmounted them all.

“‘This is a big deal, an international deal,’ he said. This was true.

“In the Union of South Africa and in Siam, in Rhodesia and in Egypt, in Argentina and in Belgium - in 39 foreign countries all told, businessmen kicked in from $1,000 to $40,000 apiece for the right to sell ‘the car of tomorrow.’

“In America, 1,800-odd dealers and distributors paid $6,300,000 for the same privilege. Then they built an estimated $100,000,000 worth of showrooms. These remained mute and empty memorials to the car that never came - except to 28 dealers who paid $5,000 apiece for handmade samples.

“Another 50,000 plain Joes - cabdrivers and mechanics carried away by tales of the miracle car, wage earners, G.I.s and G.I.s’ widows - traded $17,000,000 of savings for Tucker Corporation shares. And still other cash-happy folk plunked down $2,300,000 for seat covers, radios, heaters and other accessories to put in a car that was not then, nor ever, in production. They did it to win places in line for Tucker cars.

“By August, 1948, Tucker had promoted more than $26,000,000. By May of this year there remained in cash, according to Federal Bankruptcy trustees, exactly $69,035.

“What had Tucker accomplished with the money? The trustees reported he didn’t even have ‘the necessary assembly lines and… necessary… tools, dies and other similar accessories… to manufacture a car.’ For the vanished millions, Tucker could chiefly show 49 experimental, handmade model cars.

“Described by the SEC as of ‘questionable quality,’ the Tucker car, according to Tucker's own engineers, would need months of additional engineering and $50,000,000 additional money before it could be put into production.

“This is the story of P. Tommy Tucker, his car, and his stranger-than-Mother-Goose adventures in promoting and building an industrial empire.

“Meet Some Members of the Cast

“In its cast of characters there appear an ex-convict who had served three and one half years for bank embezzlement, a provocative countess, a bad-check artist and press agents who served as go-betweens in clandestine pay-off deals. Playing a role, too, are obliging government officials who, above and beyond the call of duty, held a $171,000,000 plant for Tucker even after he had given as a deposit a $150,000 check for which there was less than $3,000 in the bank - and then, when Tucker had the plant, went on his pay roll. The cast is adorned by ex-Republican committeewoman Mrs. Dudley C. Hay, whose husband, no engineer, received $17,000 for Tucker appraisal services.

“In the cast are advertising experts who built up Tucker as a ‘recognized automotive engineer,’ although, as the SEC later found, he had never finished high school, had flunked mechanical arts, and had qualifications that could be summed up as those ‘of an ordinary garage mechanic.’

“Heading it all up is the boyish, grinning P.T. Tucker himself, a bewildering combination of P.T. Barnum, Huck Finn, Jimmy Walker and Baron Munchausen, with a talent for telling stories that people believed and a genius for spending money.

“Investors could have learned about some of Tucker’s ways with money before they entrusted him with their hard cash. The SEC had spelled out those ways for all the world to see. Under the law the SEC does not, as is generally supposed, either approve or blackball stock issues. All it can do is make the promoter bare his secrets. These are published in a prospectus, which the investor is urged to read before he plunks his money down.

“Here are some tidbits that the SEC extracted from Tucker in lengthy hearings that were made public in June, 1947, before the stock went on sale. He paid no cash into his own promotion (he told Chicago newspapers he put in more than $1,000,000).

“Lacking the $100,000 he needed to buy founder's stock didn't daunt him. Here’s how Tucker managed: He submitted an expense account covering 333 days, charging, according to SEC, $40 per diem, exclusive of hotel bills and transportation charges - to cover taxis, tickets, limousines, racing tickets, etc. For this and other claims on the Tucker Corporation, he received $100,000. This he turned over for stock which gave him control of the company.

“And a $15,000 check, paid for a Tucker franchise and supposedly deposited in a Tucker Corporation escrow account, was found in Tucker's personal bank account instead. Discovered, he returned the money.

“Tucker, in the flesh, is as revealing as the SEC’s disclosures about him. ‘Come up to my apartment and let's get acquainted,’ he told me in Chicago. ‘I’ll pick you up in my Tucker.’

“Unshaved, wearing a leather hunting jacket, and pouring his troubles out in barnyard Anglo-Saxon, Tucker looked somewhat less than the suave and forceful promoter as he gunned his pearl gray Tucker car along Lake Michigan's shore.

“A federal court had cut off his $50,000-a-year salary and even more lavish expense account and barred him from the silent and cavernous Tucker plant. He faced possible indictment on mail fraud charges. The U.S. Tax Court was after him with tax-fraud charges, and he was peppered with many lawsuits. His small, thin-lipped mouth and wide-open, disarming eyes showed the strain.

‘I’ve got the number one demand car in America,’ Tucker said, patting the telltale pre-selective gearshift rod which revealed the car to be equipped with a modified Cord transmission. The car was the 29th of the Tuckers to be made by hand. Powered by its costly airplane-type engine (the original engine in the world premiere Tin Goose model had been quickly scrapped as inadequate), the Tucker shot by other automobiles on the road.

“‘Why, I can exhilerate so unprintably fast,’ Tucker said, ‘nobody can catch me. That's why Detroit’s afraid of me, and the invisible forces of government are out to stop me. I’m the most investigated S.O.B. in the whole unprintable world.’

“Tucker led the way into his eight-room, Lake Shore Drive apartment which commands a breath-taking view of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s gold coast. He introduced his wife, Vera, a worried-looking woman of about forty, and his youngest son, eighteen-year-old Johnny. Married at seventeen, Tucker has five children, three of them married.

“Rugs Show Signs of Wear.

“He broke out a bottle of rye and, glass in hand, showed his apartment. It presented a picture rich in Louis XV and Chinese antiques, luxurious in walnut and ebony paneling and silk hangings. Someone obviously had lavished a fortune on these. But now the hangings were frayed, the rugs scuffed.

“‘Cost the people before me $750,000 to fix this up,’ Tucker said. ‘Got it practically for nothing. Forty thousand for the apartment - it's co-operative - and $28,000 for the furnishings.’

“He pointed to a twelve-foot-long dining-room table. ‘Real, Genoa silver marble,’ he said. ‘Look at the gold-plated legs. Cost $60,000.’

‘Some dining-room ceiling!’ Tucker continued. ‘Real silver leaf.’

“In the master bedroom, decorated in red and black, were two rare jade lamps. ‘We call this our passion parlor,’ said Tucker.

“Back in the 20- by 30-foot living room, Tucker scuffed the Austrian silk and wool tufted rug.

“‘I tell you this joint is fabulous,’ he said. ‘The most expensive apartment in the world.’

“But he frowned. He had been caught short, he said. Planning to sell the furnishings and the apartment, he had called in an appraiser just a few days before. The expert examined the fine French commodes and elegantly tapestried couches and shook his head sadly.

“‘The people before us were small,’ related Tucker, ‘so they cut down the legs of these antiques.’ He curled his lips in disgust. ‘Ain’t worth a four-letter word.’

“He slid into a needle-point, museum piece of an easy chair and ran his hand through his thinning, silky hair. A straight, thin nose testified to a once handsome face. Under a chin that receded slightly, emerging jowls bespoke good living and approaching middle age.

“‘How in the hell did I ever get here?’ he mused. ‘Me, a plow jockey from the back 40 acres.’

“He expressed his bitterness in a soft, pleasant voice, punctuating his remarks with an occasional, boyish laugh. The fraud charges of the SEC?

“‘A pack of fantastic lies,’ said Tucker. ‘I didn't steal a dime. I’m basically honest. If I caught the boys doing something wrong, I’d saw their heads off. Why, I've just had to sell my wife’s Cadillac and my boy’s Pontiac to get money to eat.

“‘Starting a business is a Herculean task. In the summer of ‘47, I flew 400,000 miles to show my car (the non-reversing Tin Goose already described) to dealers and investors. It costs money to entertain dealers. I didn’t want those unprintable parties.’ (One shindig, the World Premiere and the party that followed, cost $60,000.)

“‘The spirit of America is behind my car so bad – it’s pitiful.’ He fished in his pockets and drew out a letter from an ex-Wac. To it was pinned a $5 bill.

“‘I’m so interested in seeing your wonderful cars being made and sold just in a steady line,’ the letter read. ‘I’ll keep $20 on hand for you to help tide you over a rough spot.’

“Contributions like these, Tucker explained, poured in daily ‘to use as I see fit in my fight for American enterprise.’ The contributions, including a $2,000 check from an aged Chicago couple, exceeded $200,000.

“‘The lawyers told me to send it all back. I haven't kept a cent. Hell, that's a big chunk of dough!’ he said. ‘If somebody wants to give me a buck, I ought to be able to keep it, shouldn’t I?’

“‘The big fellows haven't licked me yet. All I need is dough. If I could raise ten million, the RFC would match it. Money could solve a lot of problems.’

“‘We've got one line set. Got our jigs and fixtures. I can build five cars next week. I’ll dump the facts at ‘em so fast! You watch what I’ll pull.’

“Watching what Tucker will pull has occupied a constantly widening circle of people ever since the Tucker promotion got under way in 1944. In that year Tucker, then little known to Detroit and Washington, started his snowball rolling by getting himself some colored drawings of his coming ‘Tucker Torpedo’ and by teaming up with a co-promoter.

“Prepared by a Detroit artist, the drawings depicted a teardrop creation promising some startling firsts: front fenders that would turn with the wheels; the Cyclops eye; and a driver’s seat located in the center because, Tucker said, racing car builders had found that at high speeds a car can’t be controlled from the sides. (When car builders sought to reduce these drawings to blueprints they found the car, as drawn, had room for only one motorist in front and one in back.)

“Tucker's new co-promoter was A.H. Karatz, a former Minneapolis lawyer who had served a three-and-one-half-year term in the Illinois State penitentiary for a Chicago bank swindle which had also involved ‘Long Count’ Dave Barry, referee of the second Dempsey Tunney fight. Barry appealed and went free but not Karatz.

“Important Job for Ex-Con

“Karatz struck it off well with Tucker and was soon so deep in Tucker's car promotion that when the state attorney’s office inquired into the ex-convict’s association with Tucker Corporation, it found that ‘Karatz knows more about Tucker Corporation than Tucker himself.’

“Karatz was the boy who saw the bankers. He led his younger associate to Floyd B. Cerf, a Chicago broker whose modest, $87,500 company had engaged only in bush-league financial deals up to this point. Tucker displayed his portfolio of car drawings.

“‘I want to raise $20,000,000 to produce a car,’ he said.

“‘Have you got a prototype model of a car?’ Cerf asked.


“‘A plant to build the car in?’


“‘We can’t finance just an idea,’ said Cerf. ‘We must have a plant, and an organization and the semblance of a product.’

“‘If that's what it takes, I’ll go out and get it,’ said Tucker.

“This was in the fall of 1945, a few months before he announced the birth of the ‘Tucker Torpedo… descended from champions of the speedway… with engineering principles proved by 15 years of rigid tests…’

“The announcement to the car-hungry public came in January, 1946. A freelance newspaperman, Charles Pearson, who later went on the Tucker pay roll at $15,000 a year and received a block of Tucker Corporation stock, wrote in the now defunct magazine, Pic:

“‘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.’

“One interested reader was Mrs. Harry A. Miller, widow of the racing car designer. What she read made her seek a lawyer. Tucker, she told the attorney, had never had any part in the design of any of the Miller cars. Once, in 1935, he had promoted a deal with the Ford Motor Company for the conversion, by Miller, of ten Ford V-8 cars into racers. In this short-lived and ill-fated deal (the racers got nowhere at Indianapolis) Tucker served only as a business agent. He took no hand at all in the engineering and construction work on the cars, she said.

“Other readers of the magazine article, just as interested as Mrs. Miller but less critical, swamped the publication with urgent inquiries.

“‘When can we buy a Tucker?’ wrote would-be customers, including G.I.s from overseas.

“‘How can I get a dealership?’

“‘Is there stock for sale?’

“Spurred by this overwhelming reaction, Tucker and Karatz formed a syndicate in Detroit to raise ‘fight money’ for promotion. To these associates Tucker displayed what he did have in the way of a car to date - a cylinder block from an old Miller racing ‘Special,’ from which the Miller name had been ground out and the Tucker name etched in. He also had what he described as a torque converter, which engineers said could just about power a scooter. And he had some beautiful drawings.

“The syndicate soon broke up.

“Undaunted, Tucker and Karatz set out to get a plant. In Washington, Tucker aimed at nothing less than the giant B-29 engine establishment in southwest Chicago. Consisting of 14 major buildings covering 6,000,000 square feet, this had been built by the government for $71,000,000 and stocked with $100,000,000 worth of machinery. Many competitors sought this plum, including a group of businessmen headed by Brigadier General Patrick Hurley.

“But Tucker got the lease. How he got it was described by Senator Homer Ferguson (Republican, Mich.) as ‘one of the most flagrant cases of maladministration and mismanagement in the handling of our plant disposal program.’

“Here is the story as Senate investigators reconstructed it:

“Agreeing to pay a $1,000,000 rental deposit in four payments, Tucker first gave a $25,000 personal check. The WAA never cashed it. Then he sent a check for $150,000 which the WAA misplaced. When Tucker sent a replacement check, WAA official Oscar H. Beasley inquired at Tucker’s bank and found that Tucker had less than $3,000 on deposit there. But Tucker got the plant anyway, under a new agreement which gave him time to raise money.

“Beasley (who later received $1,000 monthly payments from the Tucker Corporation) and other WAA officials showed as little concern for Tucker’s financial status as they did curiosity about his character or his past.

“Had they gone to the U.S. Patent Office, they would have found (in 1946) that no automobile invention patents had ever been issued to Tucker, ‘the automotive inventor.’

“Had they gone to the United States Tax Court, they would have found Tucker accused of filing fraudulent income tax returns for 1942, 1943 and 1944. The Internal Revenue Commissioner charged that Tucker had failed to account for savings-bank deposits of $163,000 and owed the government $93,300 in unpaid taxes and penalties.

“One protest was raised. The then housing expediter, Wilson W. Wyatt, sought to have the government break Tucker’s agreement and turn the plant over to a prefabricated housing manufacturer.

“Attorneys Write an Opinion

“Tucker’s attorneys, the famed Washington firm of Davies, Richberg, Beebe, Busick & Richardson, called on additional help. They asked William Boyle, now executive vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to help write a legal opinion. In Boyle’s opinion the government could not legally break the agreement. Tucker held on to his plant.

“And so, in the summer of 1946, Tucker had his plant.

“Tucker’s people at this time were a mixed group. Shuttling with him between Chicago, Detroit and Washington were Karatz and another contact man described in a pamphlet of the William J. Burns International Detective Agency as a ‘check passer and confidence man’ wanted by police of two cities. In his entourage also was a Countess Consuela Talalla, of piquant accent and vivacious manner, who had met Tucker in a New York night club. Divorced later, she was seen much with Tucker and once sought to intervene with Chicago police when they jailed another Tucker aide for passing a bad check.

“With a corporation formed, executives hired and a plant rented, all Tucker now needed was money, $20,000,000 worth, a tidy sum to get together, but not for a man who had already accomplished so much with so little.

“His first idea: sell dealerships.

“Tucker and his associates combed the lists of those who had made inquiries after the initial publicity blast. Approached, the prospects eagerly parted with their money, some plunking down as much as $50,000 apiece. Soon the Tucker Corporation had several hundred thousand dollars of working capital. But more money was needed.

“Tucker and Karatz went back to broker Cerf. Bankers usually investigate propositions patiently, turning accountants and engineers loose on them, sometimes for months. But Cerf needed only one fruitful day with Tucker, from 4:00 P.M. until 4:30 A.M., to make a deal. In longhand, Karatz wrote out an agreement. Cerf undertook to sell $20,000,000 worth of Tucker shares at $5 apiece.

“This step taken, Tucker found Karatz’ convict record embarrassing. Exit Karatz.

“Then, as all security-selling promoters must, Tucker had to go to the SEC. Here he found one government agency that asks questions. Piqued by the facts Tucker laid before it in his registration statement, the SEC wanted to know more:

“Why did he hide the role ex-convict Karatz had played in promoting the venture? Why didn't he mention the clandestine deal by which he sought to pay Karatz off? The deal; Tucker Corporation paid James E. Tripp, California press agent, $3,500 monthly. Tripp kept $1,500 for services and paid the $2,000 balance to Karatz. When the payments ceased after three months, Karatz sued Tucker for $900,000.

“Other undisclosed facts: The Tucker car had not been completely proved. The pilot model needed ‘extensive testing and might require material changes in engineering.’

“Tucker omitted so many facts and misstated so many others that the SEC issued a special warning to investors: The way Tucker Corporation money had been used ‘raises grave questions as to whether a proper stewardship of corporate funds has been maintained.’

“The SEC gave this warning to the newspapers and sent it to 4,000 brokers - many of whom were to handle Tucker stock. But the promoter’s reputation was safe. Whoever reads the fine print in SEC prospectuses or the single-spaced, heavy-going SEC opinions?

“Flow of Money Is Stopped

“In a whirlwind campaign during the summer of 1947 Tucker flew his handmade car, the non-reversing, seldom driven Tin Goose, to world premieres n New York, St. Louis, Boston, Toronto md other cities. There the car attracted 1,500,000 spectators and helped sell stock. Tucker would have hit his $20,000,000 target had not California barred the promotion, charging fraud and thus stopping the money flow at $17,000,000.

Back in Chicago, Tucker ordered his advertising agency to describe in double-spread ads published in the nation's leading magazines, ‘The Success Story of The Year - How Fifteen Years of Testing Produced The First Completely New Car in Fifty Years.’

“Out in the plant, engineers did a double-take when they read the implication that problems they hadn't even tackled yet were solved.

“‘We're still flubbing around with the most primary and elemental questions of basic design,’ engineer Robert D. Walder protested to Tucker executives. D. McCall White, the car designer called in by Tucker, took a worried look around the plant then went back to his hotel room. ‘I was so at my wits’ end at the chaos I found,’ he later related, ‘that I got down on my knees and prayed for guidance.’

“‘Tucker didn't have a tested car of a sensational character,’ White told the SEC. ‘He had a bundle of untested, unproved and highly questionable engineering ideas in an early and experimental state of development.’

“Said Tucker’s master mechanic, William Stampfli, ‘I couldn’t even get blueprints, although I tried for four months.’

“The first thing Tucker had to do was get an adequate engine and transmission. (He also lacked the disk brakes, torque converters and suspensions he had advertised.) Car producers usually design the engine and chassis first, then build their car around it. But Tucker, starting with a body design, found, when he failed to develop his own engine, that only two companies in all America made power plants that would fit the rear space in the Tucker car. He purchased three Franklin air-cooled airplane engines and sent them to a machine shop, nominally owned by his mother but in fact controlled by himself.

“Known as the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company, and located in part in a barn in back of the Ypsilanti, Michigan, home of Tucker's mother, the shop began to play an important role in Tucker Corporation affairs.

“The shop's assignment: to convert an air-cooled airplane engine into a water-cooled automobile engine. The shop had neither engineers nor adequate equipment, so Tucker Corporation sent both - and then paid the machine shop $114,000 for the job.

“When federal probers looked at the machine shop’s books to see how it had arrived at this figure, they found these items:

“For blankets and household expenses to Mrs. Holmes (Tucker’s mother), $50.

“For Cord auto parts, $300.

“To the family's machine shop Tucker entrusted another vital task (in the spring of 1948): the design of a transmission. The corporation paid the shop $223,105. What it got for its money was 25 reworked Cord transmissions. Traveling expenses for Tucker's son, Preston, Jr., and for other employees accounted for some of the money. Young Preston scoured Middle Western junk shops for the remains of old Cord cars, from which transmissions were extracted and sent to Ypsilanti. There the Cord parts were reassembled into a stronger transmission for use in the handmade Tucker cars. Built for the 90 horsepower Cord motor, the transmissions occasionally stripped gears when harnessed to the 150 horsepower Tucker.

“Life with Tucker inside the plant was as unconventional as the car’s engineering. When his first controller took over in the spring of 1947, the expert found the corporation records comparable to ‘a spindle system of record keeping handled by one female employee.’ The controller, thirty-two-year-old James D. Stearns, who had left a promising career with General Motors, straightened out the accounts, then hired four engineer accountants to check and control money spent on engineering work.

“Dubbed the quiz kids, the engineer accountants’ questions were soon resented by Tucker’s aides and they were barred from the departments they sought to investigate. Then they were locked out of the plant altogether. Locking out an executive was the favored Tucker method for firing aides who had fallen from grace.

“Sometimes he varied the firing technique. One day he summoned two executives to his office. ‘The SEC is after you boys,’ he disclosed. ‘Maybe you’d better get out of the country till things blow over.’

“Tucker handed one a check for $6,000 and urged him to take a company car and drive to Canada. To the other he gave a $1,000 check and suggested he visit Mexico.

“‘Let me have your resignations so I can show the SEC you're no longer with me,’ he said.

“When the two men had gone, Tucker called a meeting of other aides. He named one executive and said, ‘He’s made off with $6,000 and a company car.’ Later, when the two returned, they found themselves locked out.

“Tenure with Tucker was short. In 18 months he went through four treasurers, the last one a ‘hot rod’ mechanic with an Indianapolis Speedway background.

“Inquisitive, Tucker took to tapping the telephones of his executives and concealing sensitive microphones in their offices. The listening was interesting. From a meeting between Vice-President Fred Rockelman and importunate dealers came this wire recording:

“‘You say you're sick to your stomachs! (Rockelman talking.) Well, I tell you I’m sick to my stomach. Two years - and no cars!’

“‘I told them, “I’ve got you wired for sound all over the place,” Tucker told this writer gleefully. ‘They wouldn't believe me. They found out soon enough, though, and started using the nickel phone down the hall. The poor boobs didn't know I had that plugged too.’

“A new executive coming fresh to Tucker was bound to find it an original experience. Secundo Campini, the Italian inventor and father of the turbojet engine, was lured from Italy with a promise of a $25,000 yearly and a $60,000 advance bonus. He showed up in Tucker’s office to close the deal. Waiting for him were Tucker and a vice president named Philip Lochner, who came from South Africa, and has since returned. Tucker handed Campini three checks, totaling $85,000, and offered to help the Italian, who spoke no English, to open an account in his personal bank.

“On the way to the bank two propositions were broached to Campini: Tucker was willing to sell him one of his two co-operative apartments, a ‘steal’ at $30,000. Lochner was willing to borrow $45,000 - for a couple of days.

“Campini knew enough English to say, ‘No!’ to both of these. At the bank, the account opened, Tucker wrote out check number one in Campini’s book for $30,000. ‘Don’t protest here,’ Lochner told Campini. ‘It’ll embarrass Mr. Tucker with the bank people.’ Campini signed the check reluctantly, after Lochner assured him that he would get his money back. Lochner then made his own $45,000 touch.

“Thus baptized, Campini learned another English word, ‘lawyer.’ He hired one, and got his money back.

“Honors for an ‘Inventor’

“In the meantime. Tucker was getting awards as an inventor. At Los Angeles, the World Inventors Exposition, a show owned by two promoters named Harry M. Joyce and Monroe Manning, was drawing large crowds with its exhibit of a handmade Tucker car. To show their gratitude, the promoters asked a board of judges to give Tucker an award as an inventor. The judges protested that a car was a manufactured product, not an invention.

“The promoters then asked Tucker what he’d like for a gift. A large loving cup suitably engraved to state his accomplishments in the automobile industry, replied Tucker. The promoters got a secondhand loving cup and had engraved thereon:

“World Inventors Exposition Los Angeles, Cal.

“First Award Presented to Preston Tucker

“‘Cheap and revolting,’ Tucker fumed as he rushed the cup back to the promoters. ‘Why doesn’t the inscription mention the safety features embodied only in my car?’

“The promoters bought another secondhand loving cup and wrote a new inscription, this time to Tucker’s taste. The corporation house organ, Tucker Topics, and the company’s first annual report, mailed to 50,000 stockholders and 2,000 dealers, told about the award:

“‘At the World Inventors Exposition in Los Angeles, the Tucker ‘48 was hailed as the outstanding invention of the year, winning first award in competition with creations of distinguished scientists, engineers and inventors all over the world. Presentation of the coveted trophy was marked by attendance of film colony's top stars and executives.’

“Inventor Tucker had his loving cup in March, 1948, but with the first annual stockholders’ meeting approaching, he still had no production line turning out automobiles.

“The stockholders would be coming to the plant. What to do?

“Employees worked furiously for two weeks improvising a going assembly line. When some 1,700 stockholders were ushered into the plant, they were delighted to see an assembly line, seemingly in operation, with forty-odd car bodies (their parts rushed to partial completion by hand) spotted along the line.

“President Tucker spoke: ‘Bodies and chassis are moving on the actual production lines, blazing the way for mass production models.’

“When the happy show for the stockholders was over, Tucker and his associates held a gloomy meeting. Money was running out. Without additional cash - at least another $20,000,000 - there could be no mass production.

“But Advertising Manager Cliff Knoble had an idea.

“‘All those people waiting to buy Tuckers, but no Tuckers,’ he said. ‘Why not sell them accessories - seat covers, heaters, luggage? If we offer them a priority on a Tucker, they’ll buy!’

“Knoble - and Barnum - were right.

“Although no car was in production, $2,300,000 of accessories were sold. But that wasn’t enough. Now, time as well as money was running out for Tucker. The corporation had sent its first annual financial statement to the SEC. It was the beginning of the end.

“The agency’s experts, glancing at the statement, gave out with a startled ‘Gee whizz!’

“The report showed no assembly lines, no cars in production and practically no money. Tucker, by early 1948, had sailed through $22,000,000 of investors’ and dealers’ cash and had less than $2,000,000 left. (The report was filed before the accessories were sold.)

“The SEC sent out a team of investigators. Their findings, 700 pages’ worth, made such exciting reading that the SEC turned them over to Attorney General Clark, who handed them on to U.S. District Attorney Otto Kerner at Chicago and his chief assistant, Lawrence J. Miller. The prosecutors read the report and called a grand jury.

“Under the SEC (and F.B.I.) probers’ scrutiny, Tucker’s career looked less brilliant than it had in the press interviews and paid ads. Born 45 years ago at Capac, Michigan, Tucker grew up in Detroit. During his two years at high school, he flunked mechanical drawing, mechanical arts and algebra. He entered but didn’t finish technical high school.

“Young Preston started his business career as a mail messenger at General Motors and then moved on to shipping and traffic department jobs at Ford which paid 75 to 90 cents per hour. He hired out as a motorcycle cop at Lincoln Park, Michigan, but was fired when his mother complained that he was under twenty-one. Later he rose to the position of traffic manager of a Detroit brewery - and was fired on charges that he sought to win stockholders’ proxies and get control of the brewery. Hired as a vice-president of a company distributing Packards in Indianapolis, he was fired again. ‘It’s hard steering Tucker along the right lines,’ his boss said.

“During the war, Tucker promoted a combat car, which he built, and a gun turret and fire interrupter for which he holds patents. He interested Andrew J. Higgins, the New Orleans shipbuilder, in the combat car and gun turret. Higgins thought the gun turret had possibilities and hired Tucker to form a company and develop it. After a year, Tucker was fired from this job also.

“As Seen by Mr. Higgins

“‘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 and said he believed Tucker ‘had diverted for his personal gain, $118,000.’

“The picture Higgins paints of Tucker provides a startling preview of the larger portrait later painted by the SEC. Within 18 months, Tucker took from the corporation: $80,500 in salary and salary advances, $70,000 in expenses, and $123,000 in unexplained ‘miscellaneous items’—a total of $273,500. The SEC estimated that he drew a total of $750,000, if funds from the family machine shop at Ypsilanti are counted.

“Some other Tucker deals:

“He sold the same racing car twice to the corporation. The car was then sold to Preston Tucker, Jr., who paid for it with a note for $17,000. As owner of the car, Preston, Jr., then gave the corporation permission to race the car at Indianapolis, and for this permission received $10,000.

“Tucker put Preston, Jr., on the board of directors because, he said, ‘I want my boy to learn how a modern corporation does business.’

“Here is how the modern Tucker Corporation bought coal. From the Hughett Coal Company came an offer to supply coal. The Hughett Coal Company was the property of Emory Hughett, bookkeeper for the Tucker family machine shop at Ypsilanti. Its only address was a post office mailbox; its offices were in the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company. The Hughett Company had no credit at the banks (having just been formed) and asked the Tucker Corporation for a $35,000 advance to use as working capital. In return, bookkeeper Hughett would sell the corporation coal at $1.30 more per ton than it was then paying. Fair enough?

“The Tucker Corporation grabbed up the offer and bought $83,000 worth of coal. The $35,000 advance was never returned. Also, some of the coal proved so inferior it had to be rejected.

“By late summer last year, Tucker scraped the bottom of a barrel that had once bulged with $26,000,000. He shut down the plant and fired 2,000 employees. He, too, was unemployed, but not unoccupied. Disillusioned stockholders and dealers sued him in such droves that one Chicago observer estimated some 500 lawyers, for and against Tucker, were involved.

“Some lawyers went after him with the zeal of public prosecutors. One, Luis Kutner, who lectures at Yale, even hired a staff of investigators and pushed his own one-man grand jury probe.

“When the multitude of hostile lawyers sought to throw Tucker into bankruptcy, he pleaded with United States District Judge Michael L. Igoe to stay all suits until he could raise additional millions. Judge Igoe assented and for five months was regaled periodically with reports by Tucker of imminent deals with ‘angels’ eager to bail him out. Rumored as angels were Glenn McCarthy, the Texas oilman, Howard Hughes and Sonja Henie. This led one wag to predict ‘rear-engined autos on ice skates for Chicagoans to use on wintry days.’

“When the angels turned out to be ghosts, Judge Igoe said: ‘I don't have the least bit of confidence in the statements of Mr. Tucker.’ Soon after, Judge Igoe named trustees for the Tucker Corporation under chapter 10 of the National Bankruptcy Act.

“The debacle has stirred demands for more stringent federal protection for investors. Why was Tucker permitted to trade airy promises for little people’s hard-earned savings? If the SEC is a ‘securities policeman,’ why doesn’t it do its policing before people get hurt?

“The Law and the Public

“When Congress passed The Securities and Exchange Act of 1935, it decided the government should not pass judgment on a promotion. If the government were given such powers, it would have a life-or-death veto over new business ideas and even over going firms which seek to raise money from the public.

“This would hardly fit into a free enterprise system. So Congress decided on a disclosure law. The promoter must tell all to the SEC, which then passes on the facts to the investor. After that it’s, ‘Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware!’

“The SEC made Tucker disclose all, sure enough. Yet what did the SEC do with the torrid facts it so brilliantly dug out? It published them in stilted and tortured legalistic English in a closely printed, 15-page opinion which, to the average man, almost required an interpreter. And Tucker's publicity was so easy to read!

“Why didn't the SEC state its case in simple, newspaper English, in four pages instead of 15? The facts might then have trickled down to the public.

“While the SEC could and did make Tucker admit for the record that he had only an experimental car that needed extensive testing, his publicity and advertisements told quite another story. Millions were convinced Tucker had a revolutionary car ready for production.

“What should be done about a promoter who tells the SEC one thing but through press and radio reaches millions with another story?

“This writer drove from Chicago to Detroit with Tucker in his handmade, pearl gray Tucker car.

“Tucker pushed the car along at an 80- and often 90-mile-an-hour clip. To the motorists we whipped by, the Hollywoodish, handmade car must have seemed a superior product.

“Actually, the car had few of the revolutionary features that had been advertised and was made up mostly of conventional parts. Reputable engineers who had worked on it pointed out further that the frame was too heavy and had to be re-engineered. Work was needed on the suspension, the radiator and the brakes. The engine was so costly it would have to be redesigned or replaced to bring the car into the medium-price class. The car was unstable and tended to wobble.

“As we paused for lunch near Lansing, the usual crowd gathered about the sleek, dashing Tucker car. ‘The only car in town,’ said one admirer. ‘No other car can touch it,’ said another. ‘Why don’t those fellows in Washington and Detroit let you build it, Mr. Tucker?’ asked several others.

“The end.”

Velie's story, which contained much the same SEC-sourced information as the Detroit News account - but in much greater detail, appeared on the newstands approximately one week before the cover date. It caused a much larger commotion than Hayden’s article, and its contents were mentioned in hundreds of the nation's newspapers. An editorial in the June 20, 1949 edition of the Orville [Ohio] Courier Crescent mentions it specifically:

“We read in the newspapers last week that an article in ‘Collier’s’ which tells of the collapse of the Tucker Dream (‘The Fantastic Story of the Tucker Car’) was highly critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission for not having issued stronger warnings to investors when the company’s stock offering was made.

“Since it was our recollection that the SEC had been extremely critical of the issue and had warned the investment was an outright gamble, we were curious to see how the criticism was worded. So we read the article, and if there is any criticism in it of anyone except Tucker and his associates, we failed to find it. Either Collier's planted a loaded ‘plug’ for the story, or some newspaperman who hadn't read the article wrote it.

“Anyway, a wholly unjust criticism, was made of the SEC in the newspaper story, at the same time that Collier's itself was implying that the SEC did all it could to keep investors away.

“There is something wrong about that. What interests us most about this whole business is that a couple of punks can hold up a bank and steal $2,700, and the papers are full of it for days, and a couple of guys who aren’t much smarter can hold up the bumpkins and steal $20 million and no one raises a peep until months afterwards.

“You can hear the bloodhounds baying as they take off after the bank robbers who didn’t get enough to bother talking about but when it comes to Preston Tucker who bilked the suckers all you can hear is the soft moaning of people who think ‘big business’ kept the Tucker car from runnin’.

“Ponzi was a ‘piker’ compared to Tucker. He got the $100 million ‘Dodge plant’ in Chicago from the Government with a $30,000 check that bounced.”

June 22, 1949 United Press newswire story:

“Tucker Backers Sue for Damages

“Chicago - (UP) - Preston Tucker, president of the Tucker auto firm, was charged with making false statements in registering stock issues in a suit on file in federal court Wednesday. The suit, filed by three stockholders, named as defendants: Tucker, president of the Tucker Corporation, automotive firm; Floyd D. Cerf, whose company was underwriter of the stock issue; Executive Vice President Fred Rockelman of the Tucker Corp., and 19 others, most of them formerly connected with the Tucker corporation.

“Plaintiffs were Rolland Carlson, Tucker Minneapolis, Inc.; Joseph A. Godbout and Stanley Walstad. They asked $3,100 for themselves, and asked the court to set a figure for damages or other stockholders, and enter judgments for them.”

June 23, 1949 Associated Press newswire story:

“Tucker, Aides Plead Innocent

“Chicago - (AP) - Preston T. Tucker, his business suit matching the gray of his personal rear-engine car, pleaded innocent today to a federal indictment charging mail fraud, conspiracy and SEC violations.

“Six of his seven co-defendants in a 31-indictment, also pleaded innocent before Judge Philip L. Sullivan. The indictment, returned June 10, resulted from a grand jury investigation of promotion of the Tucker automobile.

“Several handmade models of the novel car were built but it never reached mass production despite an expenditure of $28,000,000.

“Trial Expected in Fall

“At today’s hearing Judge Sullivan announced he would turn the Tucker case to the executive committee of the U.S. District court for reassignment to another judge for trial in the fall. Reassignment was asked by Frank J. McAdams, counsel for Tucker and two other defendants. McAdams is a nephew of Judge Sullivan.”

June 24, 1949 Edition of the Chicago Tribune:

“Tucker and Six Aids Plead Not Guilty In Federal Fraud Case

“Preston tucker and six associates in organization of the ill-fated Tucker corporation entered pleas of not guilty yesterday when arraigned before Federal Judge Philip L. Sullivan on charges of violating mail fraud statutes and securities laws. A seventh man indicted on the charges, Harold A. Karsten, now of Los Angeles, did not appear in court and the government agreed to permit him to enter a plea after the trial date is set.

“Not guilty pleas were entered by Floyd D. Cerf, Robert Pierce, Mitchell W. Dulian, Fred Rockelman, Otis Radford and Cliff Knoble. Earlier Judge Sullivan granted a of Frank J. McAdams Jr., his nephew and Tucker’s attorney, to have the case sent to the executive committee for reassignment because of the family.

“The Tucker case was turned over to Federal Judge Walter LaBuy later in the day after Frank J. McAdams, counsel for Tucker and a nephew of Judge Sullivan, asked for reassignment because of the relationship. Robert J. Downing, assistant United States Attorney, said he would appear before Judge LaBuy soon with a petition that a date be set for hearing.”

The Tucker story is continued here

©2004 Mark Theobald for with special thanks to Tribune Publishing


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