3 Spooky Stories of Haunted Cars
When it comes to inanimate objects being haunted, houses seem to get all the glory. Psychologists say this is because homes are supposed to represent safety and security in people’s minds. Thus nothing could be more disturbing than the very thing that’s supposed to provide sanctity being a repository of evil. All well and good. But, for those of us who feel more at home on the road than anywhere else, the idea of a haunted automobile is much more frightening. Think about it; when you’re driving you’re completely dependent on a few hundred pounds of steel to keep you safe, all while traveling at speeds that can quickly turn lethal. That alone is scary enough if you think about it. But, when you factor in the presence of a malevolent entity controlling the car, then you have all the makings of a first-class horror story. With that in mind, here’s a look at some supposedly true stories about a trio of haunted cars. Cape Town, South Africa: Mid-2000s
According to eyewitness accounts, a family was sound asleep after welcoming some out-of-town guests when they were wakened by a roaring sound coming from their yard. When they rushed outside they were terrified to see their guest’s 4-door Renault crashing into trees and fences.
Their first thought was that someone was trying to steal the vehicle. Then, to their shock, they realized that no one was behind the wheel. Before they could run or call authorities, however, the runaway Renault suddenly stopped moving.
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The family called local police officers, who arrived to find everything quiet and still. Then, before they could leave, once more the car started itself. It began to bounce up and down on its wheels, then careened backwards until it collided with a tree, at which point it fell silent.
When the owners contacted Renault, the company advised them that cars of that particular make sometimes developed problems with the starter. That was the only explanation that anyone ever came up with for the Renault that would not stay parked.
The Cursed Car of Archduke Ferdinand
Many paranormal researchers believe that tragic events create negative form of energy. This force is said to soak into the objects surrounding it, causing unexplained things to happen for years afterward. I don’t know if this theory is right or not. But it sounds like the only reasonable explanation for the history of one particularly unlucky automobile.
Europe in the first years of the 20th century was a hotbed of international tensions, one that threatened to erupt at any moment into all-out war. All that the hostile nations needed was an excuse to start shooting at each other. A political radical from Yugoslavia provided that reason on June 28, 1914, when he killed Franz Ferdinand as the Austrian nobleman rode along in a Graft & Stift open motorcar. Opposing powers quickly lined up against each other, plunging Europe and, later, the United States into WW1.
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All these facts are well known to historians. What many don’t know is that the shooting was only the first in a long series of tragedies that befell owners of the car. From 1914 to 1926, the vehicle was purchased by 12 separate individuals, all but one of whom was either killed or seriously injured while driving it.
The stories say that one owner, a military officer, was cruising along when suddenly two persons appeared in front of him, seemingly out of nowhere. He swerved to avoid them, only to lose his life when he struck a tree along the roadside. Even worse, he was unable to avoid the pair whose lives he sought to save. The car ran them down during its fatal collision course.
Later the vehicle was purchased by the governor of Yugoslavia. During this time he owned the car he was involved in four accidents, one of which cost him an arm. Later a friend of his purchased the vehicle, boasting he would prove the alleged curse was nonsense. Soon afterward, however, he died when it flipped over, crushing him underneath it.
The car later came into the possession of a Swiss auto racer, who also died when it mysteriously started rolling end over end one fateful day. Another purchaser was standing near the vehicle as it was being towed, only to have it fall on him, ending his life.
The final owner was the most unlucky of all; he was driving with five friends to a wedding when he lost control of the machine. Both he and all of his passengers were killed.
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As I mentioned earlier, there was one fellow who bought the car and survived unscathed - physically, that is. Unfortunately, he went insane soon after the purchase and spent the rest of his life in an asylum.
The string of bizarre tragedies finally ended when an Austrian museum purchased the vehicle and put it on display. There it sits to this day, waiting for its next owner to get behind the wheel.
James Dean’s Cursed Little Bastard
No collection of haunted auto stories would be complete without the tale of the car that 1950s actor James Dean was driving when he lost his life. Dean referred to the vehicle, a Porsche 550 Spyder, as his “Little Bastard.” Fellow actor Alec Guinness, who later went on to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, warned Dean not to have anything to do with the car. “If you get in that Porsche,” he told Dean, “you will be dead by next week.”
Seven days later, the Spyder, with Dean behind the wheel, collided with a Ford Country Squire station wagon, snuffing out the young man’s life.
After Dean’s demise, the remains of the Spyder were bought by a California physician named William Eschrich, who put the engine in a revamped Lotus he loved to race. Eschrich lent some of the other parts to a friend and colleague known in records only as “Dr. McHenry.” McHenry later died when his own race car, which included some parts from the cursed Spyder, went out of control. Eschrich himself was involved in some nasty scrapes while driving the Porsche/Lotus hybrid.
There are countless other tales about Dean’s ill-fated Porsche, some of which are better documented than others. According to one account, the wreckage of the car fell on a worker while they were being hoisted by crane, shattering both the man’s legs. Yet another story has the entire wreckage oddly vanishing while in storage.
What was left of the Little Bastard finally ended up in the hands of Hollywood auto wiz George Barris, who later built the 1960s TV version of the Batmobile. Barris was known as a master showman, and allegedly created most of the spooky stories about the car purely for publicity. Whether this is true or not we will never know. The possibility of a car carrying a curse inspired by the late, great actor, however, is enough to send a chill up the spine of anyone, alive or otherwise.
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Photo Credit: Hemmings
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