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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homebuilt Tucker Torpedo homage could make your driveway ... something



Tucker Torpedo Prototype II

Hundreds of automakers failed in the 20th century, but none still command attention today quite like Preston Tucker. The underdog who had the ideas to beat Detroit but not the muscle, Tucker's 48 Torpedos today command nearly $1 million per copy, and many have wondered over the years what might have been had Tucker been able to stay afloat.
Here then is one answer — a home-built production of what the stillborn Tucker Torpeo coupe might have looked like if Preston Tucker had only a 1971 Buick Riviera to use as a starting point.
According to the eBay seller, this car was built by his late uncle in 1994, using some of the original drawings of Tucker's plans for the Torpedo. As we saw with a much more complicated effort to build the Torpedo, Tucker had several extreme notions for the car — from seating the driver in the center to having pontoon fenders that turned with the wheels.

Apparently the builder was fascinated enough by the history of Tucker to track down designer Alex Tremulis, who loaned him the drawings for the original Torpedo. Per this interview, the build took 2 1/2 years, and reqiured not just the Riviera but dozens of custom parts and electronics.

You can be incredulous of the overall result and still appreciate the craftsmanship of the numerous details; the chrome work in the front, the cutout "T" in the mini rear fin, or the electronics needed to ensure that the flaps in the roof open and close automatically in concert with the doors. The eBay bidding has hit $10,000 without cresting the reserve price. For the right Tucker aficionado, this may be a delightful discovery — but one that will take some explaining to the neighbors.