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1950 Ford 'Fantom' hotrod

Broadcast dates : 10th October  2004
14th October 2004

Harry Corbett was a founder member of The Reef Street Rod Club way back in the 1970s, and this Kustom Kruiser is his latest contribution to the art form known as rodding.

It follows the classic mild custom look of the early 1950s, which was made famous by the late actor James Dean.

Dean used a custom Mercury in the film Rebel Without a Cause, and Harry’s unique three-window 1950s Ford has been sculpted along similar lines. In fact Harry’s car is so unique to either Ford or its Mercury Division, that he has christened it "The Fantom".

This Ford started out as a two-door coupe, but with five windows, as these photographs of the original car show.

There was barely a panel or trim item on the original car that was not riddled with the old metal-beetle – rust – so Harry had no qualms about embarking on a radical rod project.

This car embodies the smoothie look – a minimum of chrome, apart from the grille, which came from a 1953 Chevy and replaced the bullet-nosed look of the Ford. And that’s not the only Chevy part in the car.

The front suspension and steering is all Chevy, Harry welding on the front cross-member and engine mounts from a Chev de Ville from the mid-1970s.
And in the go-department, like countless rodders all over the world, the obvious choice was the small-block Chevy V8, the world’s most prolific engine.

Engine detailing – or the way in which an engine is presented – is another very personal area of rodding. Harry chose a clean, production-like aluminium look for the engine, rather than a gaudy candy apple finish.

Go-faster items include an Edelbrock intake manifold and carburetor, and a mild Iskenderian camshaft, as well as custom-built exhaust manifolds.

Wheels are a very personal preference, and to give the car a "productionised" look, he chose Mazda 626 alloys – modest in size, but perfectly suited to the cruising concept of the project.

The rear axle is from a Chev 4.1, quite a narrow axle, as Harry did not want to flare the wheel arches and ruin his smooth overall look.

The entire interior has been refabricated in metal, and the car is now more of a 2-plus-2 than a genuine four-seater.

The seats are from a BMW 325i, but the rest is pretty much hand made. Doors open using a solenoid system and remote control, again in the interests of the sleek smooth look.

Harry Corbett’s 1950 Ford Phantom took ten years to complete and he estimates that 2 300-man hours went into its creation.

It’s an eminently useable streetcar with a top speed of close to 200 km/h and brakes and suspension to handle that speed.

Looking at The Phantom, we can’t help thinking that this was one that Ford or its Mercury division should have built.

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