3. Detroit's Big Three sank the Tucker Torpedo
The theory: When Preston Tucker unveiled plans for the radically advanced Tucker 48, a.k.a. the Tucker Torpedo, Detroit’s big three automakers sprang into action to block it: Labor unions wouldn’t produce parts, contracts were blocked, and industry-friendly senators threw Tucker before the SEC on trumped up charges of fraud.
The facts: Tucker was a showman more than he was a businessman, and he loved to show his car off, even in its early prototype state. Those that didn’t understand how the industry worked thought Tucker was a fraud because the 48’s prototype was pieced together from various outdated parts, and speculation ran rampant that he never intended to produce the cars, preferring instead to pocket millions in government grant money. After a lengthy trial during which the Tucker factory was shut down, Preston Tucker was acquitted, but the Tucker 48 was already dead. In truth, Tucker was hardly a threat to the industry, so there was simply no need on the part of the automakers to do anything. While they wouldn’t have been too keen to help out, the notion that the Big Three took direct action to scuttle Tucker is a stretch.