About This 1938 Corsair
Posted: 06 May 2008
A very strange and rare car. For my drawing collection I've made one, called 'Aero', with him.
Phantom Corsair is an automobile prototype from 1938. It is a six-passenger coupe that was designed by Rust Heinz, a member of the H. J. Heinz family, and Maurice Schwartz of the Pasadena, California based Bohman & Schwartz coachbuilding company. The design was a departure from contemporary car design and it did away with many features, common at the time, that were also eventually abandoned by mainstream designers.
Heinz planned to put the Phantom Corsair, which cost approximately $24,000 to produce in 1938 (approximately $300,000 in 2005 dollars) into limited production at an estimated selling price of $12,500. However, Heinz's death, shortly after the car was completed, ended those plans. The automobile was featured as the 'Flying Wombat' in the David O. Selznick film The Young in Heart (1938) starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paulette Goddard, Janet Gaynor, and Billie Burke. Heinz and his car were featured in a segment of the Popular Science film series in 1938.
The completely unique 1938 Phantom Corsair now resides in the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) in Reno, Nevada.
The full story of this car, as well as studio pictures, appears in the October 2006 edition of Classic and Sports Car magazine.
With a height of only 147 cm (58 in.), the steel and aluminum body had no running boards, fenders or door handles. Instead, the doors could be opened using buttons located on the outside and on the instrument panel. To match the advanced design, Heinz chose the most advanced chassis available in the United States at that time to fit the body onto, the Cord 810. The V8 engine equipped Cord also featured front wheel drive and an electrically operated four-speed gearbox, as well as a fully independent suspension and adjustable shock absorbers. To accommodate the large body, various changes were carried through on the chassis. The car's lower frame was made of chromoly steel and the upper frame was constructed of electrically welded aviation steel tubing. Power for the 2-ton 4500 lb. (2000 kg) Phantom Corsair came from a modified Cord 810 Lycoming 8-cylinder unit, supercharged by Andy Granatelli to produce about 190 hp. The aerodynamic body enabled the car to reach speeds of up to 115 miles per hour (185 kmh).
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