I dipped into my film archives a few days ago and watched Francis Ford Coppola’s film Tucker, Tucker: The Man and his Dream. Preston Tucker was an aspiring designer, engineer, manufacturer and car enthusiast. He built the Tucker 48, a forward thinking car with safety and practicality as its hallmarks.
There are a number of things one can connect between the Tucker Corporation and Tesla Motors. For example, both the Tucker 48 and Model S have a front trunk (Frunk). Tucker got a break obtaining a factory from the government, The Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant. Tesla got the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) after GM and Toyota couldn’t make it work. Each company challenged the status quo of car making as it existed and said there is a better way.
Mr. Coppola, a Tucker owner himself, made a highly stylized film that focused on two things; Tucker the man and the Tucker sedan. We get a strong sense of the time, post WWII. America at the top of her game. Corporations and manufacturing booming. A bright, new age of culture and business.
The Tucker 48 was a marvel for its time, but was squashed by more powerful, shadow powers of a system that dominated the era.
The film gives a nod to Nikola Tesla through a poster of him in the lobby of the courthouse where Tucker was on trial for alleged Security and Exchange violations. Mr. Tucker was acquitted on all counts. Jeff Bridges who plays Tucker, paces before the Tesla during the trial deliberations.
Tucker, Studebaker and DeLorean all wanted to build a different car. Some were better than others. None of them succeeded.
Photo Credits: Tucker 48 from Wikipedia, Film still from Paramount Pictures