Tucker: The Man and His Dream

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Tucker: The Man and His Dream is a 1988 film about a maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Written by Arnold Schulman and David Seidler.
When they tried to buy him, he refused. When they tried to bully him, he resisted. When they tried to break him, he became an American legend. The true story of Preston Tucker.

Preston Tucker

  • When I was a boy, I used to, uh, used to read all about Edison and the Wright Brothers, Mr. Ford. They were my heroes. 'Rags to Riches' - that's not just the name of a book. That's what this country was all about. We invented the 'free enterprise' system, where anybody, no matter who he was, where he came from, what class he belonged to - if he came up with a better idea about anything, there's no limit to how far he could go. I grew up a generation too late, I guess, because now the way the system works, the loner, the dreamer, the crackpot who comes up with some crazy idea that everybody laughs at, that later turns out to revolutionize the world - he's squashed from above before he even gets his head out of the water because the bureaucrats, they'd rather kill a new idea than let it rock the boat! If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he'd be thrown in jail for sailing a kite without a license! [jury laughs] It's true! We're all puffed up with ourselves now 'cause we invented the bomb - dropped the - beat the daylights out of the Japanese, the Nazis. But if big business closes the door on the little guy with a new idea, we're not only closing the door on progress, but we're sabotaging everything that we fought for! Everything that the country stands for!! And one day we're gonna find ourselves at the bottom of the heap instead of king of the hill, having no idea how we got there, buying our radios and our cars from our former enemies. [A juror laughs] I don't believe that's gonna happen. I can't believe it because - if I ever stop believing in the plain 'ol common horse sense of the American people, be no way I could get out of bed in the morning. Thank you.

Abe Karatz

  • When I was a little kid, maybe five years old, in the old country, my mother used to say to me; she'd warn me, she'd say, 'Don't get too close to people. You'll catch their dreams...Years later, I realized I misunderstood her. 'Germs', she said, not 'dreams', 'You'll catch their germs... [they both laugh] I want you to know something, Tucker. I went into business with you for one reason - to make money. That's all... How was I to know... [chokes up, head down] if I got too close, I'd catch your dreams.

Closing title card

  • Although only fifty Tuckers were ever produced, forty six of them are still road worthy and in use today. Tucker's innovations of aerodynamic styling, padded dash, pop out windows, seat belts, fuel injection and disc brakes were slowly adopted by Detroit and are found in the cars you are driving now. Preston Tucker died of an illness six years after the trial, but his ideas will live forever.


Abe Karatz: Cars? You brought me here for cars?
Preston Tucker: [laughs, indicates a drawing] Does that look like a car to you? THAT, is a gold mine I'm handing you on a silver platter.
Abe Karatz: Forget it; you got no chance.
Preston Tucker: Now how can you say that? You haven't even heard my ideas yet.
Abe Karatz: Ideas? Einstein's in the idea business; he makes up numbers so high only dogs can hear them. But what does it cost him? a piece of paper, a couple of pencils.

Preston Tucker: Isn't that the idea? To build a better mousetrap?
Abe Karatz: Not if you're a mouse!

Preston Tucker: Abe. Gee I appreciate you stopping by. How long you got between trains?
Abe Karatz: You like this? living in the middle of nowhere? Cupa coffee, 2, 3 in the morning, you could die first.
Preston Tucker: Or you could go into the kitchen and make some
Abe Karatz: Who needs coffee, 2 in the morning? You sit down, read the paper, chew the fat with the waitress. Here, you look around, there's nothin' but scenery
Preston Tucker: I always thought we're the scenery. How do you like your coffee?
Abe Karatz: In the city.

Abe Karatz: [after the trial] They love the cars, the people! Drives me crazy, that the motor company's dead... They'll never be made!
Preston Tucker: We made 'em.
Abe Karatz: Fifty cars...
Preston Tucker: Aw, what's the difference - fifty or fifty million. That's only machinery!... It's the idea that counts, Abe. The dream.