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  • Writer's pictureDavid Story

Ford V-8

In 1935, Preston Tucker formed a venture with famed race engine builder, Harry Miller. Tucker talked Henry Ford into sponsoring ten Miller-Tucker cars built using engines and parts furnished by Ford. Ford provided the money, originally to be $25,000 but later increased to $75,000, and parts for the Miller-Tucker car. Ford donated engines, differential gear assemblies, gauges, and brakes. 

Ultimately five cars were ready for qualifying and but only four of them qualified. On the plus side, the cars were more than fast enough; they hit speeds of 130 mph in practice, and the fastest qualifiers entered the field at 120 mph.

On race day the Miller-Tucker cars did not do well. One dropped out early, leaking fluid. The other three all suffered identical steering gear failures. Miller later diagnosed the problem: a portion of the steering mechanism was mounted too near the exhaust manifold and overheated, causing the gear to fail.

Henry Ford was upset by the embarrassing show. Worse, Miller-Tucker sent a bill to Ford for the $117,000 that it had expended developing the cars, even though Ford had only agreed to pay $75,000 toward the project. Ford settled with Miller and Tucker by agreeing to pay them if he could keep the cars.


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