The Phantom Corsair. A fleeting dream

  • 30 November 2020
  • 1 min read
  • 6 images
The Phantom Corsair. A fleeting dream image

We are talking about the Phantom Corsair, constructed on the chassis of the sophisticated Cord 810 and equipped with a powerful 190-HP Lycoming V8 engine. Luck isn’t always on the side of the wealthy. Take Rust Heinz, for example, young heir of the renowned food company whose soups were made famous by Andy Warhol. In 1938, Heinz was funded by his family to design and build a car that, even today, is considered remarkable for its innovation and esthetics.

1A These views capture the characteristic and innovative features of this car, born ahead of its time.

Structurally, the vehicle combined a molybdenum chrome steel floor with electro-welded aviation tubing. Front-wheel drive, four-speed automatic transmission and four independent wheels are the other technical features concealed beneath its magnificent bodywork, designed with the utmost care to guarantee truly aerodynamic qualities and highly creative style solutions.

Q2 The extreme pursuit of streamlining is clearly illustrated by this rear view of the 1938 Phantom Corsair.

Overall, judging by its shape, the car gives the impression of being inspired by the sucker fish, while its headlamps recall the distinctive eyes of a hippopotamus. The esthetic rigor of the car’s body is completed by its Art Deco style bumpers and air intake slots. Finally, it has two surprisingly small windshields and equally small side windows, foreshadowing the hot-rod sedans of the post-war years.

Q4 Technology but also “divertissement”: note the elegant air-intake slots and strange headlamps, rather like hippopotamus eyes.

However, like many others, this car was destined to remain a prototype, again because it was simply too advanced, but in this case also because, very sadly, its brilliant creator, at the age of just 25, was killed in a car accident in his Buick, driven at the time by a friend. The Phantom Corsair, relevant even today, is exhibited at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

4-4 Here it is clear to see how the unusual headlamps created by Rust Heinz were designed to look like hippopotamus eyes.

3A The Phantom was used in a 1938 film “The Young in Heart” in which it was nicknamed “the flying wombat”. Here we see it with the stars of the film.

Q5-scaled The magnificent Phantom Corsair, now on show at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, bears witness to the talent of its creator, Rust Heinz, who tragically died at a very young age.