Question of the Day: Is Tesla Doomed to Imitate Tucker?

question of the day is tesla doomed to imitate tucker

The year was 1948 and well, Tucker happened. There are many sides to Preston Tucker’s story. One is essentially what Francis Ford Coppola portrayed in his biopic, Tucker: The Man and his Dream, where a man with a better idea is prevented from fairly competing by the two-headed serpent of Washington and big business. The flip side is that Mr. Tucker was a scam artist that conned would-be stock holders out of $15m by selling them accessories for a product that didn’t exist. He was indicted for fraud, you know. But what really sank Tucker? Ironically, it was the “Tuckermatic” transmission. Most likely because of his racing background, Preston Tucker stuck a helicopter engine in the back of the Tucker Torpedo. Initially air-cooled, the flat-six produced a whopping 372 lb-ft of torque. Enough torque to rip the guts out of most transmissions in 1948. Tucker decided to address the problem with his Tuckermatic, a slushbox that sported only 27 moving parts– 90 less than conventional cog swappers. Only he never bothered to put a reverse gear in the prototype tranny. The press not only had a field day writing about “the car that couldn’t backup.” The Tucker brand lost much of its luster. Sure, he eventually threw a Cord automatic into his Torpedo. But the damage was done. Despite building 51 prototypes, many alleged that P. Tucker either never intended to mass produce the cars or that he was in so deep with on the development end of things he never got around to buying the necessary machines and tools to fire-up an assembly line. Any of this sound, well, shockingly similar to what’s going on at Tesla? While the details are obviously different (Washington and Detroit getting anything accomplished? Ha ha ha ha ha) the large strokes are, well… Promise one transmission, deliver another that prevents the car from achieving its advertised performance potential. Claim that development mules are actually production cars. Collect large amounts of money from investors only to play fast and loose with the books. Tucker and his six co-defendants were eventually cleared of any and all wrong doing, but the damage (and Tucker) was done. How far behind is Tesla?

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  • Harumph Harumph on Nov 11, 2008

    Jesus, Lieberman! You make a good point but weren't we all hoping that someone would make a viable electric sports car? Even if it's true, I had hoped to ignore any bad news about Tesla. If they fail it will be from your jinx. Sigh.

  • Billc83 Billc83 on Nov 11, 2008
    "So? Who will play Elon Musk in the movie?" I'd assume the kid from the "Dude, You're Getting a Dell" commercials. Of course, I'm also assuming it will be a strait to DVD release...

  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
  • FreedMike How about the “Aztek” package? Wait, this car already has that…Said it before and I’ll say it again: they need to restyle the hind end on this car, stat.
  • Johnster "Vale" is the [s]cheap[/s] lower-priced performance version with black trim and stiff suspension."Mist" is the "DeLuxe" version with a bit more chrome and trim. (Sort of like the "Decor Package" option.)"Magentic" is the full-on Brougham treatment (in its current state) with more chrome trim than the "Mist" and all sorts of gimmicky electronic features inside. (Sadly, it will not include simulated landau irons or a vinyl covered roof, even as an option.)"Aurora" is the Oldsmobile of Cadillacs (sort of like the old Cadillac Calais). No, that's not right. It's the top-of-the-line model, sort of a "Grand Touring" version, with not as much chrome as the "Magentic" but all of the gimmicky electronic features and a stiffer suspension.
  • Drew8MR Why can't CARB leave hobbyists alone? Maybe lay off the low hanging fruit and go after the gross polluters. Bring back the rolling exemption.