Nearly half a century ago, Preston Tucker's dream of producing a state-of-the-art automobile crumbled.
Now, plans to open a museum honoring the entrepreneur and build a car based on his designs also seem to be foundering."The deal sort of fell on shaky ground," Tucker's grandson, John Tucker, said from his Ann Arbor home. "It's sort of sad, what's happened."
Behind the attempt to rebuild Tucker's legacy is Al Pscholka, 54, a retired businessman from Farmington Hills.
Saying he was inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's 1988 film "Tucker: The Man and His Dream," Pscholka announced in October that he planned to buy Preston Tucker's home in Ypsilanti and a vacant lot across the street.
The house, Pscholka said, would be turned into a museum honoring the maverick automaker, who man-aged to build 51 cars in 1947 before his company collapsed amid insufficient financing and a securities-fraud trial that ended in his acquittal.
The lot was to be the site of a factory where Pscholka planned to build the Carioca, a sports car that Tucker designed and planned to produce in Brazil shortly before he died at age 53 on Dec. 26, 1956. Pscholka said he and several partners intended to build 50 to 100 hand-made Cariocas a year in Ypsilanti.
Since then, his bid to buy the Tucker house has fallen through. And local officials say it's been months since they heard from Pscholka about the car.
John Tucker said he and his relatives are upset about the plans gone awry.
The deal to buy the house, currently owned by Harold Pritchard, 82, recalls the fate of Tucker's failed automobiles: good intentions hamstrung by financial problems. Since negotiating with Pscholka in October, Pritchard's family has put the house back on the market.