There’s no other story in the automotive world quite like the one of Preston Tucker’s 1948 Tucker Sedan (also known as the Tucker Torpedo). The technologically advanced automobile that challenged the ideas behind other automobiles on the road at the time will forever be remembered for its innovative features, determined inventor and untimely demise after just 51 cars were produced. But the Tucker story wouldn’t be complete without Richard Jones, an avid Tucker enthusiast and co-founder of the official Tucker club. As we found out from the Hemmings Daily, Jones continued to be the car’s biggest ambassador until his death last Friday, August 24th.
Jones was a vital part in keeping the love for the Tucker alive even decades after the company went under, even working along side Francis Ford Coppola for the 1988 film Tucker: The Man and His Dream. Jones was 19 years old when the Tucker was first introduced to the public in 1948, inspiring an enthusiasm for the unique car to build for the teen. It wasn’t until after Jones got out of the Navy in 1986, however, that he considered buying a Tucker for his own.
Of course by then, Tuckers were hard to come by with so few made and ultimately scooped up by collectors, so Jones began networking with other enthusiasts and owners.
In 1973, Jones and 13 others formed the official Tucker Automobile Club of America. Thanks to his efforts, this club now holds a record of every Tucker Sedan ever built and where it is today. As you might guess, many are held in private collections while others are property of automotive museums and collections open to the public, like the Museum of American Speed owned by Speedway Motors founder “Speedy” Bill Smith.
Jones was also known for his wealth of knowledge on the Tucker, so much so that he acted as the president of the Tucker club and was employed by Coppola as the chief mechanic on the Tucker: The Man and His Dream movie set. For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, it details the life and ideas of Preston Tucker leading up to, and ultimately ending in, the production of the Tucker Sedan. The movie also details the demise of the Tucker company and the controversy over the Big Three’s involvement in the situation. The Tucker Automobile Club of America played a large roll in the movie’s success by providing many authentic Tuckers for use in the film.
Surprisingly, Jones only owned one Tucker in his life time- Tucker #1023 which was destroyed in a fire and crushed in 1978. Jones bought the remains of the car after they had been crushed and buried them in his backyard. He didn’t own any other Tuckers due to cost and the unreliability he saw in them.
On Friday August 24th, Jones died at the age of 82, leaving behind a piece of the Tucker legacy that no one else can claim. Funeral services were held on August 28th in Jacksonville, Florida.
Our condolences go out to Jones’ family as we all continue to remember the Tucker legacy he was so heavily involved in. Below we’ve included the trailer for Tucker: The Man and His Dream in honor of Jones’ passion and work to keep Tucker enthusiasm alive.