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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : June 25 2008
40 INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, June 26, 2008 Phantom one of a kind It is without doubt one of the most extraordinary cars of all time. CHRIS RILEY discovers the story behind the Phantom Corsair is just as amazing as the car itself IIT is incredible to think that this car is 70 years old. To look at you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's one of the many concept vehicles exhibited at motoring shows over the past few years. But look a little closer and you will see those curves and skinny white-walls belong to another era. Built in 1938, the stunning Phantom Corsair was a car ahead of its time, arguably the most futuristic ve- hicle to emerge from this period. Some readers may remember the Phantom from the film Young In Heart where it starred as the Flying Wombat. The story behind the birth of this reclusive piece of motoring history is just as dramatic as the car itself. A unique, one-off de- sign, the two-door six-seat coupe was to have gone into limited production before the untimely death of its young designer, Rust Heinz. Heinz was born in 1914, the second son of H. J. Heinz, the food millionaire. A university dropout, he built and raced power boats as a teenager, but like all boys he loved cars and dreamed of one day building his own. That dream might have become a reality but reading between the lines Heinz senior wanted his son to settle down and refused to fund the project. Undeterred, the young Heinz, who was studying naval architec- ture at Yale, dropped out and moved to California. There he took up residence with an aunt in Pasadena where he opened an industrial design studio. It was this aunt who gave him the money he needed and he enlisted the services of coach builders Bohman & Schwartz to turn his project into a reality. Obviously influenced by air- craft design, the aerodynamic body was a complete departure from contemporary styling with- out running boards, mudguards or door handles. It also featured an odd 4+2 seating arrangement, with four people able to fit across the wide front seat and another two in the narrow back -- the driver sitting second from left. Constructed at a reported cost of $24,000, it was built on a modified Cord 810 chassis, the most advanced available at the time. Like the Cord it was front- wheel drive, with a tweaked Lycoming V8 and four-speed auto- matic transmission. The car's lower frame was made of chrome molybdenum steel and the upper frame was constructed of electrically welded aviation steel tubing. Body panels were made of hand-beaten aluminum. The doors opened at the touch of a button with pop up gullwing style roof sections. The interior was padded with cork and rubber for safety, sound proofing and insulation. The design was Heinz's, devel- oped with clay and wooden models. Bohman & Schwartz helped fill in the gaps. In a concession to engine cooling the front bonnet is louvered, but the wheels are fully enclosed by the streamlined body that features tiny windows, shock absorbing bumpers and unique headlights. Inside the padded dash is a blaze of 13 dials, a lift from the Cord, with some extras thrown in including a door-ajar warning. The Phantom measured 6019mm, with a wheelbase of 3175mm and weighed in at a whopping 2070kg. It ran on 16-inch wheels and had a 14m turning circle thanks to its enclosed wheels. The tweaked 4.7-litre V8 is said to have produced 140kW at 4200rpm and 368Nm at 3000rpm, with a top speed of 185km/h. Before the car was even fin- ished Heinz had brochures printed with a list price of $14,700 (a small fortune in those days). He also made arrangements to display the car at the 1939 New York World Fair. But before he could see his dream come true he died from injuries received in a freak car crash on July 22, 1939. He was just 25 years old. After his death the car was given as a gift to mentor and family friend Lou Maxon. It has passed through many hands over the years, including TV star Herb Shriner, who owned it from 1951-1970. Shriner had it customised but it has been restored to its original form and can now be found in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. CLOSING DOWN SALE THIS WEEKEND ONLY AMBER PARRAMATTA IS CLOSING ITS DOORS ON JUNE 30. Everything must go. No reasonable offer refused. Large stocks kept at the Amber Warehouse that must be cleared. * Pavers from $18.95m2 * Tiles from $16.95m2 * Retaining Wall Blocks from $3.00ea * Immediate delivery or pick-up from supplier warehouse by 13th July. Off street parking Glues and grouts also available A 'skeleton staff' will remain until the 13th July to satisfy existing customer orders. We wish to thank all customers for their patronage over the many years. NORTH PARRAMATTA Corner Church & Barney St 9890 3022 O'CONNELL STREET CHURCH STREET BARNEY STREET Also timber, stone, grass & retaining walls 2177767i pag wk52
June 18 2008
July 2 2008