Making The Register: 1947 Tucker ’48 Prototype (“Tin Goose”)

It’s one of the most compelling automotive stories in history: the rise and fall of Preston Tucker and his Tucker Corporation. Appropriately enough, the Tucker prototype, known as the “Tin Goose,” has become the fifth vehicle added to the National Historic Vehicle Register. Read on to learn more about this iconic vehicle.

Tucker Debut

Associative Value – Person (A vehicle associated with the lives of significant persons in automotive or American history)

Taking up the mantle of the little guy looking to take on the larger automotive corporations with his radical vehicle, Tucker endeared himself to countless gearheads with his dream of bringing to the people, “the first all-new car in 50 years.” Tucker’s dream would eventually lead to his own undoing, yet for a time it seemed to epitomize the American post-war ideological notion that anything was possible with a little determination and elbow grease. His rise and fall have long since become legend, perhaps best chronicled in Francis Ford Coppola’s appropriately titled film Tucker: The Man And His Dream.

Tucker Debut

Associative Value – Event (A vehicle associated with an event or events that are important in automotive or American history)

While ultimately inseparable from the man himself, the Tucker Corporation became nearly as mythical in its attempt to establish itself as a competitor among giants. Rising in 1947, the company would fold within three years’ time and become the subject of a federal investigation and lawsuit that ultimately led to the Tucker Corporation’s undoing. But not before the Tin Goose and fifty additional Tuckers could be completed, the former serving as a promotional tool for investors and dealers, paraded across the country to garner support for Tucker’s dream.

Tucker Line Drawing

Design or Construction Value (A vehicle that is distinctive based on design, engineering, craftsmanship or aesthetic value)

Still an aesthetic anomaly to this day (What other car can you think of with a front end like that?), the Tucker, in addition to its striking appearance, featured a number of innovative safety features not previously available in American production vehicles. Among these, a padded and minimalist dashboard known as a “crash-pad,” a safety compartment meant for passengers to climb into in the event of a potential crash and the absence of potentially dangerous pointed trim pieces. Additionally, the iconic “cyclop’s eye” turned in the direction of the front wheels to follows the car’s path down the road.


Informational Value (A vehicle of a particular type that was the first or last produced, has an element of rarity as a survivor of its type or is among the most well-preserved or thoughtfully restored surviving examples)

Being the first of only 51 Tuckers in total, the Tin Goose, possessing much of its original materials, components and craftsmanship, provides a great deal of informational value. Serving as the prototype for the subsequent vehicles, the Tin Goose carries a number of features not present the subsequent Tuckers. Among these, the absence of suicide doors, several distinct differences in both appearance and assorted components not found on the production models. While largely original, a number of features and components were modified during the vehicle’s development and can be visible on the car as it stands today.

To learn more about the National Historic Vehicle Register, please visit our Register page and stay tuned for future updates and announcements regarding the next vehicles to be added.

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