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January 22, 1950 – Preston Tucker is not guilty

Decades of work in the auto industry taught Preston Tucker that change was constant and necessary. His experiences provided the world view he needed to create an astonishing new car for the post WWII world. What he developed in the late 1940s was the Tucker 48, a futuristic vehicle that featured such innovations as a padded steering wheel, safety glass, a roll bar and center cyclops headlight, all powered by 334 cubic inch (5.47l) aircraft engine. For Tucker, the future had arrived.

There was much public interest in his vehicle, but even after securing $17 million in funding and purchasing a factory, he was still short on cash for further development and production. To raise money, Tucker sold dealerships and automotive accessories, including seat covers and luggage, before production ever began. These types of transactions led to a fraud investigation, brought on by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The evidence went nowhere and on this day in 1950 a not guilty verdict was delivered.

Unfortunately, the negative press surrounding the investigation and trial destroyed the company and only 51 complete Tuckers ever left the factory. In the years that followed, the Big Three incorporated many of the 48’s features into their own designs. There is much speculation that the Big Three, along with Michigan Senator Homer S. Ferguson, had a role in Tucker’s demise as well. While most of the original Tucker’s remain, there’s still at least one out there waiting to be found. Do you know where the missing Tucker 48 is?

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