1948 Tucker 48
6-cyl. 335cid/166hp 2bbl
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Entrepreneur Preston Tucker envisioned a revolutionary new car, one that would incorporate cutting-edge technological advancements and modern styling into an economical automobile—the Tucker 48.
Built in an enormous Chicago plant, the Tucker was originally engineered to utilize a 589-c.i., fuel-injected, six-cylinder boxer engine that was constructed from aluminum. This engine, however, encountered several problems during development and ultimately only produced fewer than 90 hp, which was too little for the car. In its stead, a 335-c.i. air-cooled helicopter engine (converted to water-cooling for road use) was installed instead. The engine produced 166 hp and 372 lb-ft of torque, and could propel the car to a top speed of nearly 120 mph. The car’s initial torque converter designs were also altered to use a pre-select transmission.
The 48’s engine was rear-mounted, giving the car a wholly unique fastback appearance (penned by Alex S. Tremulis of Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg fame). The car also had a distinct, swiveling center-mounted headlight that ensured nobody would mistake the Tucker for anything else on the road.
Besides being rear-engined, other advanced features of the car included four-wheel disc brakes, all-independent suspension, a pop-out windshield, and a padded dashboard.
In all, 51 Tuckers were built before Preston Tucker became entangled in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. The investigation ultimately ended in acquittal, but not before Tucker’s reputation was indelibly tarnished. As a result, the company folded and became one of the more interesting stories of American automotive lore in the process.