Automotive designer and author Philip S. Egan of Fairfax, California, passed away peacefully on December 26, 2008. He was one of the designers of the innovative Tucker 1948 automobile, later celebrated in a 1988 Francis Ford Coppola movie, “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.” He designed the driver control area and other details of the car, a rear-engine, four-door sedan promoted as “The first Completely New Car in 50 years.” Only 51 Tucker ‘48s were produced before the venture ended. Today these highly sought-after collector cars sell in excess of one million dollars a piece.
Egan was born December 13, 1920, in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of artists—his mother working in water colors, and his father as an advertising art director. Phil also was an accomplished artist, as well as a designer, amateur astronomer, and author throughout his entire life.
As a young man following his service in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Phil joined the design firm of J. Gordon Lippincott in New York, where he soon was assigned to work on a new automobile project—the dream car of Preston Tucker. Phil went to Chicago to work as part of the Tucker design team and was later hired by Chief Designer Alex Tremulis to stay on with him at the Tucker Corporation.
Egan is the author of “Design and Destiny, the Making of the Tucker Automobile,” which chronicles the insider’s story of how the legendary automobile was designed. He also served as a consultant to Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas during the making of the 1988 film.
After his work with Preston Tucker, he became a senior product designer with Sears, Roebuck in Chicago, focusing on household appliances that bore the Sears and Kenmore nameplates.
Mr. Egan ran his own design practice for several years in the Chicago area before moving to California, where he joined the renowned design firm of Walter Landor and Associates. Later in his career, he worked as a designer for Phonic Ear hearing aids, designed four scientific teaching calculators, and again opened his own design business. His clients included Lucasfilm Ltd., where he was a consultant at THX and on a new editing device at Skywalker Ranch.
Besides his book on the Tucker automobile, Phil Egan was the author of three books for young readers; “Space for Everyone,” “Where in the World,” and “Rivers of the World,” all published by Rand, McNally. He recently completed another book, a yet to be published history of the 20th Century told in an easy-to-read anecdotal style.
Phil Egan is survived by his wife of 36 years, Virginia Egan, and daughters Frances Anamosa, and Sandi Strand, both of California, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At Mr. Egan’s request, no funeral will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to “Doctors Without Borders”, 333 Seventh Ave., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001, or to a charity of one’s choice in his memory.
(Image courtesy of Tucker Automobile Club of America, www.tuckerclub.org)