The Tucker Car Revisited

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The Tucker Car Revisited


Mrs. Frances Black recently sent me a clipping of one of my Madison’s Heritage columns, printed in the Richmond Register on November 29, 1988. She found the clipping in the desk drawer of her late husband, Raymond. I thought the column worth reprinting given the recent dynamics of the U.S. automotive industry. In reading the article, you will see why Raymond Black kept a copy.

Thank you, Mrs. Black, for sharing once again this bit of Madison’s history.

“On September 3-4, 1948, hundreds of Madison Countians, myself included, went to the corner of First and Water Streets to see the new Tucker car. An ad had appeared on July 24 of that year in the Richmond Daily Register which said ‘Tucker Corporation announces the Tucker car. The first completely new car in 50 years. Step into an entirely new automotive age. Pilot models are already on the road, production of cars will follow soon. Car specialties: 166 horsepower, engine in rear, rubber torsional wheel suspension. Sold in Richmond by: Richmond Tucker Sales. Owners: W. Don Black, Raymond Black, A.J. Valentine, manager, First and Water Street, phone 1533.’ Paco’s Mexican Restaurant and the family Dog now occupy the Tucker car building. The big glass windows were for the display room.

Preston T. Tucker began his business career as an office boy at the Cadillac Motor Company. His car had a revolutionary rear engine, years ahead of Detroit. The Big Three car manufacturers in Detroit did not want this car in production. With the aid of powerful senators, charges were brought against Tucker in 1950, four years after he had announced his streamlined car. He and associates were tried in U.S. court in Chicago for fraud and SEC violations (securities). All were acquitted, but it was too late to salvage the Tucker company organization.

Later, the Detroit manufacturers incorporated most of Tucker’s dream: a pop out window shield, a wider stance, recessed door handles, and a lack of injury causing knobs and button sticking out, padded dash, a cyclops center mounted light that turned with the wheels, the rear engine, special suspension, fuel injection, etc. And for repairs, the engine could be removed in 15 minutes with a loaner installed. These cars were sleek and fast, accelerating to 60 mph in 10 seconds.

The display automobile I saw was red. I’ve seen a lot of cars since 1948, but I remember the Tucker best. A movie has been made about Preston Tucker and his dream car: it recently played in Richmond. I went to see it and all the old memories came streaming back. In modern America, it is hard to make dreams come true, particularly if they cost the entrenched money. The Tucker Corporation built 50 cars; 46 of them are still in service. Can Detroit match that?”


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “The Tucker Car Revisited,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 30, 2023,