Preston Tucker

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Preston Thomas Tucker (September 21, 1903 – December 26, 1956) was an American automobile designer and entrepreneur.

He is most remembered for his 1948 Tucker Sedan (known as the "Tucker '48" and initially nicknamed the "Tucker Torpedo"), an automobile which introduced many features that have since become widely used in modern cars. Production of the Tucker '48 was shut down amidst scandal and controversial accusations of stock fraud on March 3, 1949. The 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on Tucker's spirit and the saga surrounding the car's production.


Early life (1903-1933)

Preston Tucker was born on September 21, 1903, on a peppermint farm near Capac, Michigan. He grew up outside Detroit in the suburb of Lincoln Park, Michigan. Tucker was raised by his mother, a teacher, after his father died of appendicitis when Preston was 2 years old. First learning to drive at age 11, Tucker was obsessed with automobiles from an early age. At age 16, Preston Tucker began purchasing late model automobiles, repairing/refurbishing them and selling the cars for a profit. He attended the Cass Technical High School in Detroit, but he quit school and landed a job as an office boy for the Cadillac motor company, where he used rollerskates to make his rounds more efficient. In 1922, young Tucker joined the Lincoln Park, Michigan police department (against the pleas of his mother), his interest stirred by his desire to drive and ride the fast, high-performance police cars and motorcycles. His mother got him booted off the force, pointing out to officials that he was underage (19 was below minimum required age). Tucker and his new wife, Vera (married in 1923 at age 20), then took over a 6-month lease on a gas station near Lincoln Park, running the station together. Vera would run the station during the day, while Preston worked on the Ford Motor Company assembly line. After the lease ran out, Tucker quit Ford and returned to the police force again, but in his first winter back he was banned from driving police vehicles by the force after using a blowtorch to cut a hole in the dashboard of a cruiser to allow engine heat to warm the cabin. During the last couple of months at the gas station, Tucker began selling Studebaker cars on the side. He met well known automobile salesman Mitchell W. Dulian, who hired Tucker as a car salesman at his Detroit dealership. Tucker did very well with Dulian, but his dealership was a long drive from Tucker's Lincoln Park home, so Tucker quit and returned to the police force for the last time. A few months later, Dulian, still impressed with Tucker's immediate success as a salesman, invited Tucker to move south with him to Memphis, Tennessee to work as sales manager in a new luxury car dealership Dulian was going to manage there. Tucker accepted. (Dulian would later be sales manager for the Tucker Car Corp). Dulian was transferred a couple years later; Tucker stayed in Memphis and was a salesman for Ivor Schmidt (Stutz) and John Fischer (Chrysler), where he became general sales manager. While managing Chrysler sales in Memphis, Tucker made a connection with Pierce-Arrow. In 1933, Tucker moved to Buffalo, NY and became regional sales manager for Pierce-Arrow automobiles, but after only two years he moved back to Detroit and worked as a Dodge salesman for Cass Motors.

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