Motoring Trailblazers - Tucker 48

Sat 30th Mar 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Tucker 48
The American automobile industry took a long pause in the 1940s, the interruption of the Second World War ensured that the big three automakers, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, did not deliver on any new models from 1941. This provided an opportunity for new kids on the block to make a mark for themselves and try and break the monopoly of one of the biggest markets in global industry.

Step forward Preston Tucker, an American automotive entrepreneur, who had spent much of his early career racing cars at Indianapolis before building combat cars for the war effort and assisting with the aviation industry also. So when the war was over, Tucker was keen to put all that experience into designing a car with innovative features and modern styling.

Nicknamed the Tucker Torpedo, the ‘48  was named for its year of production and was built with some futuristic elements including a central headlight which swivelled when cornering, disc brakes, a pop-out windscreen and a padded dashboard which featured all the instruments within easy reach of the driver.

Unfortunately, the Tucker 48’s legend comes from the fact that it was a famous failure. Despite all those amazing elements, it struggled to impress the critics and even with a $17,000,000 stock issue was always struggling for the development funds. The company’s complex finances were also under investigation from the U.S Government and the Attorney General, and though nothing was ever proven, the charges were dropped but the negative publicity was fatal.

Some have suggested that underhand tactics from the ‘Big Three’ may have also led to the Torpedo’s demise, but the fact remains that Preston Tucker only ever managed to get 51 cars produced at his Chicago factory.

A beautiful car, unfortunately torpedoed by a variety of external pressures.