Unusual Vehicles is a segment that focuses on an unorthodox car that stood out for the way it was designed. The unusual can be beautiful, which was certainly true of the Phantom Corsair. Created by Rust Heinz, Maurice Schwartz and Christian Bohman, the Corsair had the kind of futuristic body that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the car never went into production due to Heinz’ death in 1939.
In 1936, Heinz opened up an industrial design studio in Pasadena, California. After searching for the best coachbuilders in the area, he decided to work with the famed Bohman & Schwartz company. The organisation had a reputation for creating bespoke cars from movie stars like Clark Gable.
Once the body style had been decided, the team began developing a unique car that was unlike anything else that had come before. Panels were beaten and rolled out of aluminium and fitted with an inner tubular steel frame. A Cord 810 was chosen for the chassis and it came with a Lycoming V8 engine.
The chassis was modified in order to accommodate the Corsair’s larger body. Details included green-tinted triple-layer safety glass, spacious interior, electric push button door operation and refined fog lights. Despite the heaviness of the Corsair, it could reach a top speed of 115 mph, thanks to the modified engine.
When the Phantom Corsair was completed, Heinz reached out to his Hollywood contacts to promote the car. It appeared in the 1937 issue of Esquire, with Heinz driving it to Warner Brothers’ studio to have it photographed. The magazine didn’t lead to any orders, so Heinz agreed to the Corsair being used in the film The Young In Heart. For the movie, the car was renamed The Flying Wombat.
Heinz secured a place for the Corsair in the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Tragically, Heinz never got to see the car displayed as he was killed in a car accident. The Heinz family allowed the Corsair to be exhibited in New York, though it went into storage until 1942 when it was given to a family friend. Today, the car is displayed in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.
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