What more can I say about the 1948 Tucker Torpedo (often referred to simply as the ‘Tucker’) than has already been said, in print, on film and everywhere else for the last 60 years? I’m pretty sure I’m not going to say anything new, but for those few of you who don’t know the Tucker, here goes. The story of Tucker is one of a visionary man who was just a little bit too ambitious when it came to promises. He developed a car, the Torpedo, that was decades ahead of its time, and would have revolutionized the automobile industry, but when it came to deliver, some of the features didn’t work, and the car had been so over-hyped that everything crashed down around him. There was more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.
From the swiveling central headlight, independent suspension, and numerous safety features, to the massive 9.7 liter engine that was supposed to go in the car, to its incredible shape, everything about the Torpedo was revolutionary. The biggest problem was the engine, and its in-house transmission. The enormous engine was sourced from helicopters, and unfortunately did not work as intended on the car; it couldn’t develop the proper power, took forever to start, and I can’t even imagine how much gas it took, although that was hardly a problem back then. Tucker substituted a flat-six engine (he bought the company), which he further modified, and adapted it to a four-speed manual Cord transmission. Performance was spectacular, by the standards of the time, with a 0-60 time of 10 seconds flat and a top speed of 120 milers per hour.
Eventually, Tucker ran out of money and was investigated for fraud; although the investigation went nowhere, his name and the company was ruined. Only fifty 1948 Tucker Torpedo were ever built, with a 51st car partially completed. Today, they are some of the rarest and most expensive cars ever built.