Thursday, July 13, 2017

Albrecht Goertz Messes with the Phantom Corsair

One of the most iconic automobile designs of the 1930s was the Phantom Corsair of 1938, intended as the prototype of a hyper-expensive luxury cruiser.  Michael Lamm provides useful background here, as does this article.

The Phantom Corsair was the brainchild of Yale dropout Rust Heinz of the "57 Varieties" Heinz family.  The body was crafted by Maurice Schwartz of the famous Bohman & Schwartz coachworks in Pasadena, California. Heinz died in a car crash in 1939, ending plans to produce more Phantom Corsairs.  Today the car is part of the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) in Reno, Nevada that occasionally sends it out for display.

Lamm mentions some of the hands the Phantom Corsair passed through, but the one who interests us is Herb Shriner, a show business personality whose career peaked in the early 1950s, around the time he acquired the car.

According to Lamm, Shriner thought the Phantom Corsair was too prone to overheating, so he brought in stylist Albrecht Goertz, perhaps best known for designing the BMW 507, to design some alterations.  These alterations are little seen on the internet, and my contribution in this post is a page from a short-lived automobile magazine that deals with the car.

A nice image of the Phantom Corsair found in many places on the Internet: I don't know its origin.

Paulette Goddard and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. posing with the Phantom Corsair that will be called the "Flying Wombat" in their movie "The Young at Heart." This shows the small air intakes for the radiator, inspiring Shriner to commission a redesign.

This is the only photo I could find of the restyled Phantom Corsair as completed.

Here is the page from the March 1954 issue of Cars magazine (a short-lived offshoot of Mechanix Illustrated).  Aside from the cosmetic two-tone paint job, Goertz's contribution was grille openings somewhat similar to those on 1953 Studebakers, along with eliminating the little louvres on the original nose.  Click on it to enlarge.

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