The technical features of the Tucker Torpedo were very innovative. A perimeter frame surrounded the vehicle for crash protection. General Motors in the in the 1980's came out with their "space frame" which is a similar design. The space frame design was used on the Saturn line of vehicles, and the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird. If this design had been used as a standard in the U.S.....it would have saved tens of thousands of lives. Currently, there are over 40,000 automobile related fatalities in the U.S. every year. GM subsequently discontinued the design due to cost and weight factors.
One of Tucker's most innovative business ideas caused trouble for the company, however. His Accessories Program raised funds by selling accessories before the car was even in production. The SEC brought formal charges against Tucker and six other executives in 1949. It went to the jury in January 1950, and Tucker and the other executives were acquitted on all charges just seventeen hours later. However, Tucker Corporation, now without a factory, was no more. Only fifty one of the cars ended up being assembled before it was said and done.
To counteract the bad press, Tucker again took the cars on the road. He scheduled a two-week public test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a few of the cars that had been built. One car was rolled at 100 mph (160 km/h), and the driver walked away with just bruises. Public perception changed from outrage at Tucker's alleged misconduct to anger at the press and the government.
During the trouble Tucker faced while trying to promote his car and get it into production, he claimed that the "Big Three" automakers were deliberately attempting to sabotage his efforts, through the influence of Detroit Senator Homer Fergusion, who is commonly held responsible for initiating the SEC's pursuing of Tucker's business.
This is one of the saddest stories of the automobile business in the U.S. Tucker was a visionary, and an innovative entrepreneur. In fact, 1988 movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is based on the his story and production of the car. I would highly recommend the movie...it is quite entertaining and informative!
The great majority of the Tucker Torpedoes are in excellent condition. When the cars are sold at auction, which is rare, they command premium prices. The last Tucker sold was for the record-setting price of $1,017,500. The Tucker can be viewed at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles...they have a wonderful collection of classic cars! When you are in the Los Angeles area, it is well worth the trip.
My take on the Tucker is that is a car that should have been built! The big three auto manufacturers and the government were responsible for holding a innovative and forward thinking entrepreneur from improving cars for decades to come! The auto companies would have had to improve their products to compete....only recently have they come to that conclusion.
Information via Wikipedia!