The Hydra Schmitt Coupe: Equal Parts Fantasy And Fantastic

Amazing designs not only withstand the test of time, but they can also transcend time and almost re-write history. Such is the case with the amazingly-styled Hydra Schmitt Coupe designed by Lead Vehicle Designer Daniel Simon for the 2011 Marvel movie Captain America: The First Avenger.

At 25 feet long and eight feet wide, the Hydra Schmitt Coupe is a car of substance. The deuce-and-a-half rear treatment doesn’t hurt when making a statement either! All images: DanielSimon.com

Designed more as a roadster than a coupe, the 1942 supercharged V16 behemoth is the eccentric personal car of Marvel’s villain, Johann Schmidt, known as the Red Skull and leader of the group of all-around bad-guys called Hydra. Imposing styling like the dual-rear wheels, such as you would find on a tractor-trailer configuration, command your attention while much more subtle cues hearken to automobiles of an earlier era.

We WANT the Hydra Schmitt Coupe to be powered by a sweet-sounding V-16 engine and the exhaust ports on each side help the illusion, if not the implementation.

The fact your mind’s eye instantly jumps to heavy-hauler status when viewing the double set of rear rollers is understandable. In fact, the car which measures 25 feet in length, is based on a truck chassis. While those eight exhaust ports on each side of that long, sumptuous, center-hinged hood hint at a powerful 16-cylinder engine, reality will find a beefed-up Ford V8 situated below. Fantasy was the purpose of this particular design, but the project needed to materialize into the real world, at least enough to help promulgate the financial purpose of the fictitious endeavor.

As the video clip shows, the car was actually built as a running, driving vehicle by Shepardson Studios in the U.K. Of course, the car wore a gray hue instead of the flamboyant flame-red shown in the video and no whitewall tires were harmed or used during filming. The prop car’s extent of “running” and “driving” is only meant to cover those short scenes in the movie and moving the vehicle around as a prop for various showings. The vehicle was constructed on a truck frame, but with the suspension omitted to give a proper stance and clearance for more movie-worthy items like accessory toolboxes under those flowing front fenders. With the vehicle’s limited size and lack of suspension, plus having four wheels trying to keep the vehicle pointed straight, it’s easy to imagine that the Hydra Schmitt Coupe might be a little dodgy on turns.

Form Over Function

We’re not here to take the car for a test drive – although we’d LOVE to do just that! It was the car’s design that struck us and pulled us in for more. Daniel best describes his craft as a designer as, “a Style for all Galaxies with vehicles for the present, the future, and imagined pasts.” One look at his portfolio on his website or his Behance gallery and you can see how far his talent has carried him in both the past and the future. Daniel has envisioned designs for brick and mortar entities such as Bugatti, Volkswagen, Lotus, and Lamborghini. He has also gone beyond the realm of reality for other customers such as Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Universal Studios – designing futuristic vehicles for Star Wars VIII, TRON Legacy, and Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise. Thankfully, the Hydra Schmitt Coupe is much more grounded than any of these works, and that’s why we love it.

Based during the war-era, shielded headlights help solidify the car's place in time. Instead of using technological trickery, the typical gauges are offered up through ingenious means. While the dash is labeled in German, keen eyes will note Daniel's logo inserted below the tachometer.

That unmistakably Mercedes design, both in the front and the rear, are wrapped in a thirties-era theme and spiced with an avionic, war-era theme, much like many of the cars that were built soon after World War II. The plane-worthy dash would be the envy of any hot-rodder and while technology seemingly advanced well beyond today’s capabilities throughout the movie, at least Schmitt’s car still kept it to relatively believable levels. A typical oil pressure and temperature gauge set help keep the engine’s lifeblood from boiling, while a super-cool boost gauge fills out the center of the steering wheel.

The car supposedly has a front-mounted supercharger, much like the Bently “Blower Cars” of the era. We’d LOVE to see a boost gauge get a similar steering wheel treatment!

One could argue that cars built for studio use have the luxury of not needing to be road-worthy and many bits necessary to survive on the open road can be omitted, there is also something about creating incredible designs that will stand the test of time. Many cars which have been revered for years spent the bulk of their time shuffled from show to show, never realizing their true calling as transportation. The Hydra Schmitt Coupe could also be put into that same group. What it lacks in miles of smiles, it makes up for in ingenuity, creativity, and style.

Wearing truck tires instead of whitewalls and slotted headlight covers, the Hydra Schmitt Coupe definitely fits into the time during WWII.

Designer Simon has created on a computer screen what may prove to be a timeless design, letting the nuts and bolts of the project to other craftsmen. The significance of his work and the inspiration it has for other designers and builders will continue on, and we think, contribute to others’ work as they create their own rides, hopefully, this time to be used by the good guys!

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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