History of Famous Automobiles The Tucker Part 2
About the history of the famous Tucker automobile, rife with problems and promise.
BIOGRAPHIES OF WONDERFUL AND TERRIBLE AUTOMOBILES
THE TUCKER (1948)
But the SEC continued to fret, for it had received the first annual statement of the Tucker corporation and found that there remained less than $2 million of the $28 million of investors' and dealers' cash. An advertising campaign handled by Roy S. Durstine, a well-known New York advertiser, had made the Tucker car into a household word, but there were as yet almost no cars being manufactured. True, there were a handful of cars being paraded around the countryside for all America to ogle, but these contained old Cord transmissions and were designed from a 1942 Oldsmobile body which had some streamlined accessories welded on to it. Certainly, no matter how good the cars were, they could not be purchased for the advertised price of $1,800.
Therefore, the SEC sent out a team of investigators to discover what had happened to the money of the Tucker corporation, and approximately 800 pages of findings found their way first to the attorney general, then to the U.S. district attorney, and finally to a grand jury.
Tucker did manage to set up an assembly line with some 40-odd cars in various stages of completion. But these virtually handmade cars were still relying on the body of the Oldsmobile and the engine of the Cord. Also, by this time the serious problem once again arose of where the Tucker corporation would raise more money.
A press release was sent out to franchise owners offering for immediate delivery a group of advance accessories, including radios, tailored seat covers, sets of fitted luggage, and the like. In this enterprising way, Tucker managed to raise still another $4 million. However, the grand jury action was soon taken, and the plant that made the car that everyone wanted closed down in the summer of 1949. After a four-month trial, Tucker was acquitted of fraud, but the plant was never to open again.
By January, 1949, there remained only $69,000 of the $26 million worth of investments. Only 50 cars were ever manufactured in running order. Yet, Preston Tucker was presented with the first award of the World Inventors Exposition in Los Angeles for the invention of the year.
Today the Tucker car can still be seen and can still stop traffic, for a few, mostly in Florida, are in excellent running condition. But considering the ratio of manufactured cars to capital raised, the cost of each $1,000 Tucker car came to approximately $510,000.
There is an association for Tucker enthusiasts: Tucker Automobile Club of America, P.O. Box 1027, Orange Park, Fla. 32073.
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