Dream garage #6 – Phantom Corsair

The Phantom Corsair is a car that justifies the name “dream garage”. Not because of the price(it must be biblically expensive), but because of the exclusivity. This car isn’t just rare, it’s unique. Only one was ever built and it sits in the National Automobile Museum, in the US state of Nevada.

It was designed by one Rust Heinz and the only prototype was constructed in 1938. The Corsair was supposed to be a production car but Heinz’s death stopped this from coming to fruition. You can only imagine what this absolutely amazing design would have had on the industry in 1938, since most cars at the time, though nice and roundy, looked like tin cans next to this.

Just the name is brilliant. “Phantom Corsair”. Could be a super-hero, a spy, or a pirate, but it befits such a unique machine perfectly. If it were a modern car, people would perhaps guffaw at its campness, but in the 30’s it must have sounded absolutely magnificent.

Look at that sweeping, spaceship-like body. The absence of any door handles or friezes. The split windscreen and the sculpted grill. This is 30’s retrofuture, something that should have been allowed to be. If this had been built as a production car, it probably would have stolen a lot of the Citroën DS’s thunder years before it was even built. If it had been built we’d probably all go around in bullet-like cars, with push-buttons for doors, and a front seat for three people, and wheels obscured by the bodywork (this last bit makes me wonder how good the turning circle on this thing would be).

Even though a real life production Corsair was and is impossible, it lives on in a slightly different way. The 2002 PC game Mafia: City Of Lost Heaven had a certain “Manta Prototype”, unlocked after you’d finished the game and completed a certain bonus mission. Not exactly a substitute for the real thing, but it certainly stands out from the rest of the cars, and it’s a hoot to drive. It was also the car player piece in the board game of Monopoly I own, though I can’t find photos on the net that corroborate this.

The Phantom Corsair is a true automotive legend, a glimpse of what might have been if chance had had a different whim at the time. A real dream car.

Phantom Corsair Gallery


2 Responses to “Dream garage #6 – Phantom Corsair”


    They apparently made at least ten cars because the 1938 Phantom Corsair is featured in the 1938 movie “Young in Heart”. There is a 3 min video on youtube with scenes from the movie, including a showroom scene with 10 Phantom Corsairs on display.

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