Everyone know Heinz ketchup, or canned food, but maybe not everyone know that one member of this American family designed an extraordinarily futuristic car.
The affairs of Heinz Family were as messed as a whole season of the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful". Betrayals, suicides, fatal crashes and money, in a saga of events longer more than a century. Anyway what interest us is Rust Heinz, son of the Canned food's king H.J. Heinz.
In 1936, Rust left his studies, with great dismay of his parents and moved to Pasadena, where his aunt lived, here this man, started to pursue his dreams of design cars. Destiny wanted, in the same city there was a coach-builder company, Bohman & Schwartz.
With the support of his aunt, Rust in combination with the Bhoman and Schwartz team, began to work in 1936 at the Phantom Corsair project.
The prototype was partially handcrafted by Rust himself, he worked on the wooden forms necessary to shape the particular lines of the car, the body was made of aluminum, a brand new cross braced chassis was built for mate with the front base and the 4.7 liter straight eight engine, both taken from Heinz’s Cord 810.
The final results had not much in common with the donor car, the Phantom Corsair, was heavier and weirder than the 810. The shape of the car had no angles at all, but this didn't make it less aggressive, au contraire, the Corsair had, especially for it's era, a rather futuristic and dangerous appearance.
The interiors, capable to accommodate six people, were made of leather and wood, they were sound insulated thanks to layers of cork and rubber in the body. The dashboard was very peculiar, along many dials and switches there was an altimeter and a compass. A multi wave radio with two speakers and a thermostatically controlled system of air conditioning also refined the cockpit comfort.
The doors had no handles externally, and could only be opened by an electric push button, the bumpers had an hydraulic anti crash system and the windows were made of a triple layered safety glass, showing an overall massive attention to the details in the realization of this project.
Sadly the Phantom Corsair didn't caught the attention of the masses, Heinz tried to promote it at Hollywood, and the car was starred in the movie “The young in heart” where thanks to mirror’s trickery a showroom full of Corsair ( re-christened as The flying Wombat) appears in the scene.
A scene from the 1938 movie "The Young in Heart" starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paulette Goddard, Janet Gaynor, and Billie Burke.
The Phantom Corsair remained only a prototype, even after its cinematographic appearance, this car was anyway an interesting piece, and in 1939 before Heinz could have seen his work displayed at the New York’s World fair, he tragically passed out in a car crash.
This stunning prototype, after had been through several owners and few modifications, is now displayed in the National Automobile Museum of Reno.