Tuckers Took to Pebble Beach for the First Time
August 28, 2018 by conceptcarz.com
There's never before been a Tucker 48 on the fairway that serves as the competition field at Pebble Beach, but on Concours Sunday, Tuckers took to that turf in droves. An original Tucker test chassis, displayed courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum, provided a rare look at the underpinnings of the Tucker and its innovative technology. The same museum brought the only remaining 'Tuckermatic,' a Tucker equipped with an automatic transmission. The William E. Swigart Jr. Automobile Museum brought the 'Tin Goose,' a name affectionately used in reference to the 1947 prototype, and The Henry Ford brought a Tucker that was completely disassembled by the Detroit News during a heated libel suit following the SEC Grand Jury case. An additional nine Tucker 48 sedans were also on hand.
Some 70 years after the company's founding and 30 years after the launch of Coppola's still-popular film, it was time to honor a bold effort by a flamboyant but sincere promoter who tried his best to shake up the Big Three—and nearly succeeded.
The only American car that received more publicity than the Kaiser in the post World War II years was the Tucker Torpedo. Preston Tucker was determined to build a new car with more forward-looking features - 'the first completely new car in fifty years' as the Tucker brochures stated. At his side, the flamboyant Tucker had Alex Tremulis, the renowned auto stylist who had learned his craft from E.L. Cord. The original design for the new car featured a center placed steering wheel and front fenders that would turn wîth the wheels. In the original design, the car used a horizontally opposed engine with hydraulically actuated valves, and an integrated crankshaft driving an automatic transmission. This engine could not be made functional in time for production, so a Franklin helicopter engine, modified from air to liquid cooling, was used to drive a redesigned Cord front wheel drive transmission replacing the Tuckermatic (which was not developed in time to be installed in the production Tuckers).
In place of the moving front fenders, Tucker installed a third headlight that turned with the steering wheel. The 'Cyclops Eye' headlight was just one of the several safety features that were placed in the tucker. The dash area was padded, the windshields could be popped out, and all controls were grouped in front of the driver. The area ahead of the front seat, called the Safety Chamber, was a large carpeted box that driver and front seat occupants could drop into if a crash was imminent. Tucker had considered safety belts, but they were abandoned because designers felt that they might imply his car was unsafe. The disc brakes planned for the car were abandoned because of cost, but the car retained all-independent suspension and tubular shocks. Tough not built with uni-body construction like Hudson, the Tucker had a step down passenger compartment, which gave the car a very low center of gravity. This, in turn, allowed the 4200-pound car to handle surprisingly well.