Concepts of Future Past: Phantom Corsair

by Paul Strauss
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Yet another incredible car you could never buy, the 1938 Phantom Corsair was a true thing of beauty – especially in comparison to the other cars of its era, which largely were stoic rides that looked a bit like limousines. On the other hand, The Corsair looked like a black bullet-train-slash-rocketship on wheels.

Designed by Rust Heinz (of the H.J. Heinz family) and Maurice Schwartz of Bohman & Schwartz coachbuilders, the Phantom Corsair rode low to the ground, and its body had sweeping aerodynamic curves, made from hand-hammered aluminum. The vehicle had no fenders, and nearly every surface was completely smooth. The car was truly ahead of its time, with features like fully-electric doors which had no handles on the outside, and modern instrumentation like a compass, an altimeter, and indicator lights for things like the door being open or the radio being turned on.

Based on the chassis of a 1936 Cord 810 sedan, the car measured a whopping 237 inches-long, and weighed a hefty 4,600 pounds. However, its upgraded 190bhp Lycoming 80° V8 engine helped to push it along at speeds up to 115 mph.

Due to the untimely death of Heinz in 1939, only a single Phantom Corsair was ever produced, and it currently resides in the National Auto Museum in Reno, Nevada.

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The Phantom Corsair also made an appearance in the movie The Young in Heart, under the name “The Flying Wombat” as can be seen in the video below – though the interior scenes are clearly not from the Corsair.


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