Axon's Automotive Anorak: The seven best halloween spook‑mobiles
Supermarkets crammed with pumpkins, plastic glow-in-the-dark skeletons and enough sweets to rot an eight-year-old's teeth at ten paces. It must be Halloween!
Here are seven cars with spooky connections that seem appropriate for the scary season. Happy Halloween!
1938 Phantom Corsair
The sinister Phantom Corsair – a fascinating entrant on the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ lawn at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed – was a distinctive six-passenger two-door coupe.
Designed by Rust Heinz of the Heinz baked beans company fame, this futuristic (for 1938), Cord 810-based prototype with faired-in wings, covered head lights, an ultra-low profile, and electric-opening doors with no handles. It starred as ‘the Flying Wombat’ in the 1938 movie The Young in Heart.
Production of the Phantom was planned – selling for around $24,000 at the time (the equivalent of c. $380,000 today) – but Heinz was killed in a car accident shortly afterwards, ending these plans, and leaving the prototype Corsair as the only one ever built. The lives of a number sequent owners of the Phantom ended unexpectedly, leading to the rumours that the Corsair is cursed!
1928 Frazer Nash 'Owlet' Super Sports Saloon
A most unlikely-looking racing car, and the popular star of many a race at Goodwood, this unique Frazer-Nash gets its ‘Owlet’ nickname due to its porthole rear windows and black tapering body, resembling a baby owl, but shaped like a high-speed coffin!
The work of Goodwood-regular Patrick Blakeney Edwards, the Owlet looks more Addams Family than race car, and it would be no surprise to see Uncle Fester ‘pedalling’ this delightfully brisk tall and skinny 1.5-litre, four-cylinder late-20’s saloon.
1954 Lincoln Futura
If this bat-like one-off Lincoln concept car looks strangely familiar, then it should!
Originally designed in 1954 by Ford’s head of design, Bill Schmidt, for the Company’s luxury Lincoln division, the Futura was hand-built by Ghia in Turin to be displayed at a series of American auto shows for the 1955 season. Subsequently abandoned by Ford, the Futura prototype was purchased by famed Hollywood coachbuilder George Barris in 1959 for the nominal sum of $1.00. The Futura then languished in his Hollywood workshop for several years.
Fast-forward to the mid-1960s, and Barris was contacted by the producers of a soon-to-launch new television series, based on the DC Comics’ superhero character, Batman, to create a suitable car for the lead role. Thus, the now-iconic 1966 Batmobile that we all know and love was born!
With only three weeks to finish the Batmobile, rather than build a brand-new car from scratch, Barris transformed the distinctive Lincoln Futura he owned into the famous crime-fighting vehicle. Design work was conducted by Herb Grasse, working as an associate designer for Barris. The rest, as they say, is history…
Reviving both a marque and model name from the 1920s, the 1970’s Stutz Blackhawk was created to attract the rich and famous from American high-society. With a long production run until 1987, with around 600 examples built in total, the modern-era Stutz featured edgy, and scary, styling by the controversial ex-Chrysler design, Virgil Exner.
Exner’s menacing Blackhawk design included a spare tyre that protruded through the car’s boot lid, a massive 'kidney' chrome grille, free-standing head lights, and odd ‘sliced’ flanks, giving the car a strangely sinister quality, especially when painted black as the majority of Stutz’s were.
1978 Sbarro Monster G
A creation of the fertile mind of Italian-Swiss vehicle coachbuilder, Franco Sbarro, the aptly-named Monster G was an extreme 4x4, based around a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, powered by a 350 bhp 6.9-litre V8.
The immense size the Monster G, standing at 2.3 meters (7 feet, 5 inches) made this Sbarro prototype a real monster. One of the Sbarro’s more unusual head-turning features were the Monster G’s wheels, and huge balloon tyres, which were sourced from a Boeing aircraft!
2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge
There’s nothing too scary about any modern-era Rolls-Royce model, despite their spooky names; Phantom, Ghost, Dawn and Wraith.
However, in the new Black Badge format, the later three Rolls-Royce models take on a more mysterious air, liberating the darker recesses of the mind, to paraphrase Rolls-Royce. A Wraith Black Badge in your rear-view mirror can look truly menacing and ethereal on first glance, aided by the car’s eerie silence.
1965 Munsters Koach
One of the main stars of the hit 1960s American TV show, The Munsters, was the ghoulish family’s car, a wild, stretched Ford Model-T hot rod/hearse ‘cross-over’, known as the Koach, and created by the famed Hollywood custom car builder, George Barris (more details here).
Barris was given just 21 days (and paid $18,000) to create and build the Koach for the popular Munsters sitcom series. He paid artist/designer Tom Daniel $200 to whip up a wild ride for the spooky family, with Barris then getting Dick Dean and employees of the Barris customer workshop turn Daniel’s drawing into reality.
The Koach was funeral-themed as Herman Munster worked in an undertaker. The Model T casket handles on the bonnet, ‘cobwebbed’ lantern headlights, and plenty of rolled-steel scrollwork. Three fiberglass Ford Model T bodies were used to form the bodywork, with 18-foot long Koach having rows of seats—including a bench seat hanging precariously off the back, all were upholstered in blood-red velvet.
The Ford V8-powered Koach was fully drivable, though a bit of a squeeze for its six foot five driver, actor Fred Gwynne who played the seven feet tall in Herman Munster in the TV show.