Classic Avant-Gard High-Performance Model - Phantom Corsair

Classic Avant-Gard High-Performance Model – Phantom Corsair

The 1938 Phantom Corsair is seen as one of the classic cars in auto industry. The design of the car was at launch truly unconventional and very futuristic. In fact, the automotive market needed some time to fully understand its unusual characteristics.

The Phantom Corsair was created by Rust Heinz, who dreamed to produce the first American supercar. In 1936, Heinz moved to California, as an entrepreneur, part of the food industry empire. Shortly after this move, Heinz convinced his aunt despite opposition from family to fund the creation of a new car.
Eventually, Phantom Corsair was designed for limited production, each car set to be sold for about 15,000 dollars, a very peppery price for that time. The first step was to create a scale model in clay, which was distinguished by an unprecedented aerodynamic shape until that moment.

Heinz went with this model to Chistian Bohman and Marice Schwartz in Pasadena (California), in an attempt to breathe life into the model. The two engineers started work immediately, using the following elements: an AJ Bayer Company chassis, a drivetrain borrowed from a Cord 812, equipped with a V8 engine (changed from 125 to 190 horsepower), but also a complex steering component for the front wheels, completely hidden from view.

Considering these elements, work began on bodywork, created from aluminum and reinforced with a steel pipe base. The two engineers, Bohman and Schwartz ensured that this bodywork was wider in the wheel area.

The front had air induction vents and headlights integrated into the bodywork. Chromium was present both in front and on the back, in the form of bumpers. Moreover, the side windows of the model were closer to the body and the windshield was split in two.

The design had some problems, especially with the air intakes on the hood, which did not allow too much air to cool the engine, so the engine displacing 4.7 liters was constantly overheating. With 190 horsepower and interesting aerodynamic shape, it seems that the Phantom Corsair could reach up to 185 km / h.
The model could easily hold six people, four in front and two in back. The futuristic part of the Phantom Corsair is evoked by the aeronautical instruments on the board, or the panel buttons mounted on the inside of the roof.

In the end, the car cost about 24,000 dollars. It was time to be presented to the public, so the inventor bought a full-page from Esquire magazine. The Phantom Corsair was presented at the World Fair of Technology, where it was named “car of the future”.

Moreover, the vehicle played The Flying Wombat in the 1938 movie “The Young in Heart” signed by David O’Selznick, and appeared in a popular science fiction film the same year. Unfortunately, no one dared to place an order. Single at the time, Heinz drove the car to his death at an early age – only 25 years old.

At this point, the Phantom Corsair can be seen in the National Museum of the Automobile, formerly known as the Harrah Collection in Reno (Nevada).
Besides winning its place in this museum, the Phantom Corsair could be seen at various events, including: Goodwood Festival (2006), Pebble Beach Concours (2007) and Amelia Island Concours (2009).

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