Phantom Corsair from 1938

This magnificent machine is a 1938 Phantom Corsair. It was a prototype designed by Rust Heinz, of the Heinz ketchup family, and coachbuilder Maurice Schwartz. You can see it roll in the 1938 film The Young In Heart. Louis Block's The Flying Wombat page (, thanks Michael-Anne Rauback!), "Is This The Motor Car Of Tomorrow?" from Popular Science, November 1940 (Modern Mechanix), Phantom Corsair (Wikipedia)


  1. Is this the car of tomorrow?

    Close enough for me. That is some truly visionary design for 1938. It is anticipating the use of aerodynamically streamlined body design in automobiles by decades.

    What a pleasure to see such a rare vehicle maintained in perfect condition.

  2. Sorry, robulus, but aerodynamics had been used before this came out. There’s not much in cars that hadn’t been tried by about 1920 (except computers).

    The 1934 Chrysler Airflow is a popular one.

    My favorite is the Stanley canoe (pretty much an upside down wooden canoe powered by electricity) used for a land speed record in 1906. The driver did 127.66mph and was expected to die since speeds that fast would kill a human being. Way faster than what gas engines were doing at the time.

    The PDF of the article is a great read.

  3. Holy shit! I remember this thing. My father was an auto mechanic and he brought home a magazine where the Phantom was featured. I must have drawn dozens of pictures of it. I thought it was the coolest thing on wheels, and imagined it was the frame for the Batmobile, whether Bob Kane knew it or not.

  4. Sweet beebee jeebus.

    That is beautiful and stunning.. WANT.

    And Pah! Turning circles are for the proletariate. If I drive on it, it is by definition a road! Make way!

  5. Grimc,

    If I had this car, I would not be a polite driver, I can assure you.. branding cross-walking grannies’ legs with the front bumper (mit den Drei Streifen). Ploughing through schools. Catching flying children on the serrated grill/head-lamps combo..


  6. Robulus, exactly! (I would install a garbage-disosal style bitey-mechanism for just such occasions (falling back to the baseball bat if they get away, pecker-intact).

    And nice memory, have I made an impression? :)

  7. Yep. A number of them, along the length of a maple bat, as I recall! Nice touch with the anti-pissing-in-tank device.

  8. In 1999, I was working in a KB Toys store. I was only slightly interested in Hot Wheels at the time. When I saw this car I was transfixed. The only thing that comes close is that ship from Restaraunt at the end of the Universe[I think], the one that the rock band flies into the sun as a finale.

  9. That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen with four wheels. It’s like the futuro staff car of the 4th Reich.

  10. sorry as a car nut i can’t get wicked excited about this. i’m glad it’s being shared with the blogging community and all but i’ve seen it in so many magazines that the allure has worn off.

    i have a 1916 Hudson 6-40 Phaeton that has been in my family since new (5 generations) and a 61 MG A and a 78 Ford Country Squire Wagoooon, used to tow the 16 when we’re going beyond 50-60 miles.

  11. @Hoffman

    They all sound like very nice cars. I’m not sure why they preclude you from enjoying this post, but thanks for sharing just the same.

  12. It’s like it came from a different past, and where it came from is where people right now are flying around in personal jetpacks and living off energy pills.

  13. While the exterior is impeccable (except for the undersized contemporary turn signals), the interior is 1938.

    I don’t know how the driver is supposed ti deal with a “score” of dials and meters that stretch all the way to the other side of the passenger compartment.

    The sponge rubber crash pad may protect your knees while waiting the millisecond for the Lycoming engine to come through the firewall at you. Then again, it may keep you from seeing which pedal you’re using in an emergency.

    That steering column is made for impalement. I believe my grandmother’s 1963 rambler had a shorter one, but equally stiff. Welcoming during driving, but deadly in a crash.

    The hood/windshield aspect ratio is a real visibility hazard, resulting in more front end collisions.

    Cars were made sturdy until Nader campaigned agianst the big three with “Unsafe at any speed” in the 1960’s. Basically, in a crash, the occupants would be knocked all around the fine interior of the car, while the solid steel bumper welded to the chassis took most of the damage.

    Every collision was as inelastic as possible. except for the occupants, of course. With some body work and a hose, you could resell the car that year to pay for the funeral expenses.

    This may have made us more cautious drivers, but not always.

  14. That’s …. ooh.. goddamn!

    Can Tesla motors do something with this design?

    Our cool future depends on it!

  15. By the way, Kaiza (#37), the Phantom Corsair was based on the chassis of a Cord 812 – your favourite car, itself designed by BoingBoing regular Raymond Loewy.

    Also, you guys have got to see The Young in Heart – it’s a great screwball comedy (also known as Merrily We Live).

    In our family, every flash new car gets its turn being called The Flying Wombat…

  16. Arkizzle: When you get to the states, independently wealthy, of course, pick me up in this thing and we’ll tour the country in zoot suits, with a few vintagely dressed pin up gals. What a time will be had!

    I think this is my all-time fave thing on four wheels.

  17. Nice sled.

    Also a big fan of the Morgan Aero.

    And for old-school gangsters with repulsor-lift tech, Gen. Grievous has a pimp ride too.

  18. #39 (er, that’s me) was wrong – even a cursory google reveals that Merrily We Live and The Young In Heart are quite separate 1938 screwball comedies. I don’t know quite how I got that wrong; most likely I saw them together in a Saturday afternoon double bill on BBC2 circa 1980…

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