Friday, May 13, 2011

Preston Tucker: The Man Behind the Car-- Part 2

He had his designer, now Tucker needed a place to build his vision. The 475-acre Dodge plant in Chicago which had built engines for B-29s during the war was available. Tucker approached the War Assets Administration and had the backing of Walter Reuther, head of the United Auto Workers union. He was sure he had the factory.

While waiting for an answer on the factory, Tucker proceeded to raise the needed capital to begin production. Twenty million dollars was the goal. He raised $6 million through dealer franchises.

Then, it was announced that the factory would go to Lustron Corporation and the franchise sales dried up. Offering stock seemed pointless without a place to build the car.

Tucker claimed backdoor Washington, DC, politics were to blame which angered some people in the government who then set out to get him. Broadcaster Drew Pearson accused Tucker of bribery.

In the end, Tucker kept his plant. But on May 28, 1948, the Securities and Exchange Commission held a secret investigation into whether Tucker was going to use the money he had collected to make his car or line his pockets. On June 10, 1949, as the first fifty cars were being built, Tucker was charged with fraud.

The plant closed and the trial dragged on for three months before Tucker was acquitted, but he had lost all his money and his dream. Tucker died of cancer in 1956.

Wondering If the Tucker Automobile Would Still Be Around. --RoadDog

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