Michigan native Preston Tucker had radical and futuristic ideas for what a postwar car should entail. His plan defied convention and had an unusual design for a full-size sedan. The engine was to be placed in the back, be horizontally opposed. The flat-six power plant had plenty of torque and lots of acceleration. It could also be removed in minutes for easy servicing plus had the benefit of offering excellent fuel economy.
The rocket-ship inspired styling was drafted by Alex Tremulis and featured aircraft-style doors, pop-out windshield, swiveling center headlight, seat belts as standard equipment, and a padded 'safety chamber.' This 'Car of Tomorrow' was priced at $2,450 which was less than Cadillac's popular Model 62 sedan by about $500. The orders poured in, but the Torpedo never reached true production. Indicted for investment irregularities, Tucker was acquitted of all charges, but his company soon failed. The plant closed in mid-1948 after only thirty-seven pilot models had been completed. Loyal workers assembled another fourteen cars.
This example is Tucker No. 1007 that was initially purchased from the factory as a demonstrator. In 1985, it was acquired by a Japanese businessman and shipped to Japan where it remained until the 1990s. It was later sold to a Texas oilman, and then resold at a Barrett-Jackson auction to Robert E. and Margie Petersen, founders of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. In 2002, it passed to its present owners. The car was originally painted green but is now painted 'Waltz Blue.' It has been restored to its original condition except for its wheel covers.
The 335 cubic-inch, 12-vavle flat six engine produces 166 bhp and is matted to a four-speed manual with Bendix vacuum-electric pre-select. The horizontally opposed, water-cooled engine was adapted from an air-cooled Franklin helicopter power plant.
Of the 51 radical fastback body Tuckers produced, 49 survive. The car is best remembered for its radical designs, forward thinking, and safety features. Its center headlight turned with the front wheels, and there is a fully independent and four-wheel Torsion-lastic suspension.