Preston Tucker was born on September 21, 1903, on a peppermint farm near Capac, Michigan. He grew up outside Detroit in the suburb of Lincoln Park, Michigan. Preston worked on the Ford Motor Company assembly line. After the lease ran out, Tucker quit Ford and returned to the police force again, but in his first winter back he was banned from driving police vehicles by the force after using a blowtorch to cut a hole in the dashboard of a cruiser to allow engine heat to warm the cabin. During the last couple of months at the gas station, Tucker began selling Studebaker cars on the side.
He met well known automobile salesman Mitchell W. Dulian, who hired Tucker as a car salesman at his Detroit dealership. Tucker did very well with Dulian, but his dealership was a long drive from Tucker’s Lincoln Park home, so Tucker quit and returned to the police force for the last time. As a salesman, Tucker crossed paths at the Indianapolis speedway with the great engine designer Harry A. Miller, and in 1935 they formed Miller-Tucker, Inc. Their first contract was to build race cars for Henry Ford.
The company delivered ten Miller-Ford Indy race cars, but they proved inadequate for Ford and he pulled out of the project. The Tucker ’48 premiered June 19, 1947 in the Tucker plant before the press, dealers, distributors and brokers. Tucker later discarded many of the Tin Goose features, such as 24-volt electrical system starters to turn over the massive 589-cubic-inch engine. For the premier, workers substituted two 12-volt truck batteries weighing over 150 pounds that caused the Tucker’s suspension arms to snap. Speeches dragged on as workers behind the curtain tried feverishly to get the Tin Goose up and running.
Finally, before the crowd of 5000, the curtains parted and the Tucker automobile rolled down the ramp from the stage and to its viewing area where it remained for the rest of the evening. On January 22, the jury found the defendants innocent of any attempt to defraud, but the verdict was a small triumph. The company was already lost. The remaining assets, including the Tucker automobiles, were sold for 18 cents on the dollar. And incredibly, Preston Tucker began again. In 1951, he went to Brazil to seek backing for another new car. With the new project almost underway, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died December 26, 1956.