The 1948 Tucker was designed by Preston Tucker in the post World War II era. Preston Tucker saw the type of injury caused by car accidents and built a car to protect the driver and passenger, many of the features offered on the Tucker are still not standard on all cars today, such as four wheel disk brakes.
Tucker 48 Specifications:
Engine: H-6 (horizontally opposed), ohv, 335 ci (4.50 x 3.50 in. bore x stroke), 7.0:1 compression ratio, 166 bhp, 372 lbs/ft torque.
Size: 128" wheelbase, 219" overall length, 60" height, 79" width, 4200 pounds.
Performance: 0-60 in 10 seconds, est. top speed 120 mph
Original (projected) price: $2450
Current value: from about 1/4 million to 1/2 million (Tucker #1030 sold at auction in March, 1996 for $259,000)
Yes, it could go in reverse (the prototype, dubbed the "Tin Goose" had a few.. um.. problems with that gear)
The engine was an rear-mounted aluminum opposing six cylinder which was originally a helicopter engine developed and provided to Preston Tucker by Howard Hughes. This same engine configuration is now used by Porsche in the 911. The entire engine could be removed in and replaced with a loaner in an hour. One did not have to get a loaner car, instead you were loaned an engine.
The safety glass of the day was not elastic, as today's windscreens. A person's head would puncture the windscreen forming a "glass collar" which would cut into the neck causing death. Preston fixed this problem with front windows that would pop out of the frame in an accident.
The car featured a center headlight that turned within it's housing to face the same direction as the front wheels allowing the driver to see around corners.
The front and rear seats were interchangeable to reduce wear on one seat.
At one point during testing a driver lost control of a Tucker and rolled it several times. The driver walked away unhurt and the Tucker started right up and was driven off the track. The only damage was to the body and the windscreen, which popped out.
The company founded by Preston Tucker was shut down unfairly through bribes and outright fraud by the large car companies of Detroit. I recommend the movie "Tucker" which goes into detail about the Tucker story.
Replicas of the Tucker are now being built in limited numbers with fiberglass bodywork and the Cadillac "Northstar" engine (rear-mounted). For more information and pictures of the Tucker please visit www.tuckerclub.org