Thursday, March 18, 2010

Haunted Cars

(above, pictures of old cars in Miami, AZ)

The trip to Gila County made me think about haunted cars. Is it possible that a spirit could haunt a car? Is it possible a car could be jinxed? Is it possible that residual could imprint itself on the parts to screw with future owners who picked a part?

The most famous case of a reportedly haunted car was the one in which James Dean died. This silver Porche Spyder was one of only 90 made in 1955. On September 30, 1955, James Dean crashed in the car and died.

George Barris, a car customizer, bought the wreck for $2500. When they were bringing it in, it slipped and fell on a mechanic, breaking both his legs. After parting out the vehicle, two physicians were in a race, both of their cars having parts from the James Dean car. One died when the engine failed and careened into a tree. The other physician’s car supposedly suddenly locked up and flipped, giving him serious injuries. Later, a kid tried to steal the steering wheel and slipped and cut his arm. Two tires were sold to a young man who later got two flats at the same time and crashed.

From this helpful site: “Feeling that the Porsche could be put to good use, Barris loaned the wrecked car to the California Highway Patrol for a touring display to illustrate the importance of automobile safety. Within days, the garage housing the Spyder burnt to the ground. With the exception of the "Little Bastard," every vehicle parked inside the garage was destroyed. When the car was put on exhibit in Sacramento, it fell from its display and broke a teenager's hip. George Barkuis, who was hauling the Spyder on a flatbed truck, was killed instantly when the Porsche fell on him after he was thrown from his truck in an accident. The mishaps surrounding the car continued until 1960, when the Porsche was loaned out for a safety exhibit in Miami, Florida. When the exhibit was over, the wreckage, en route to Los Angeles on a truck, mysteriously vanished. To this day, the "Little Bastard's" whereabouts are unknown.”

There’s a syndrome called “Phantom Car” Wikipedia has some examples
In 1982 two people in Hawaii reported seeing a mysterious black car which disappeared a second later and reappear again. In 1995, an eyewitness saw a brown 1960s car that had bumper stickers, the witness passed the car but it mysteriously reappeared ahead of the witness's car at several stoplights. Also the witness noticed that the driver was a man in his teens and that he never turned his head and he never moved the steering wheel when the man drove around the "dead man's curve" the witness said. In 2004, In Cape Town, South Africa, a Renault sedan mysteriously rolled up an embankment and hit a fence, despite the fact that the handbrake was engaged and the engine was off. Some say the car was "jumping". In the mid 1980s, three people in a sedan reported seeing a gray van heading straight towards them. Then suddenly the van vanished.”

Let’s break down the legend of the James Dean car: Should we take any pieced out car and follows it’s history, we’re likely to find a good deal of wreckage. The rate of car wrecks is ridiculously high in our country (thank you crowded roads and cell phones). However, the parts for this particular car were a sports model and used on other sports cars by people who buy from a customizer. In other words, these are likely going to be raced. What are the incidents of race cars finding bad ends? I’m not skeptical about the Spyder curse, but I’m not sure it would ever qualify as a haunting. Anyone who knew James Dean would say that it’s extremely unlikely he would personally wish harm on anyone using his car parts.

The concept of a curse isn’t a particularly logical one. Who cursed it? When was it cursed? How did they curse every part of the car? Was it cursed because a young actor died in it? Then, someone should chase after Princess Diana and Princess Grace’s cars.

The last option is residual, that somehow the parts of the car have a memory of the crash. In the way that residual is spoken of in the spirit world, it would have had to be the steering wheel and perhaps the seat upon which James Dean sat. The other parts of the car were minor players and not making actual contact with the injured and suffering man. As well, Dean was not at fault for the head-on collision and so curses and hauntings seem unlikely. The reason we know about the history of the parts is because they had a cult following for their origins. Should we follow your Buick that crashed in 75, we might find the parts later ended up in miserable situations, we just don't keep records of it.

What about the phantom cars that seem to have no driver? That is a very intriguing concept. Perhaps it’s because we understand the deadly ability of these machines that can run faster than us, kill quicker than us? Do natives in Africa have such legends about elephants being possessed and killing them? Perhaps. It’s bad enough having present drivers on the roadway who aren’t “all there” but to have them absolutely not there at all—chilling. If you look up Phantom Cars, you’ll find plenty of legends. I'd plug this into the "robots take over the world" concept. Something capable of doing so much intricate and precision work without human guidance seems like a deadly encounter waiting to happen. A sprt of fear of technology concept.

I'm not really into the idea of hauntings in cars or even curses, but I am cool with the concept that bad things can be imprinted onto the parts depending on the type of person handling it and leaving the car with a kind of "jinx" about it. It's entirely possible that the way the people handling the parts to Dean's car felt about his loss might have added some heavy bad feelings to the parts and subsequently resulted in distracting people working on their cars and therefore missing details while working on them. I also think it's possible that should something happen to them while driving, they would not blame themselves or shoddy work or using parts from an accident, but the origin of one part that went into their car, even if that part had nothing to do with the accident they had.

Phantom cars are an exciting concept. I don't know if I believe a car could ever drive itself, but I also know enough about the field of paranormal to never close a door or I won't see who's coming up my front walkway.

If you like this subject, I suggest you see the movie “The Car” which I believe to be the best of the possessed car movies. By the way, that’s another desert-themed horror movie I forgot to put on my list, but one of my cult favorites!


  1. Reminds me of the movie "Trucks". Talk about "ghost in the machine". Jeez, yeah. I know if I could haunt any car it'd be a '74 Chevy Nova SS. Laugh, but that car is bitch'n. I don't care what anyone says. As for JD's Spyder? If that car really did all that, it'd have to be the most accident and damage-prone car in the world. But honestly I think it all comes down to part integrity. Steel can only go through so much and for a car's parts to go through a traumatic crash like that, you're talking about some serious material degeneration. I don't know about you, but would you want a crucial part of your car to be replaced with one that had been through a hellish crash like that? Probably not.

  2. I do admit to a super bad fascination with junkyards. My dad took me to one when I was 4 years old and I wandered off. They had helicopters and police dogs looking for me for 12 hours! I was curled up in the back of a big old Cadillac that looked just like my dad's 57 Caddy. I thought I was waiting for him to take me home, but I was only back there a couple hours cause the rest of the hours, I was wandering the lot poking into cars and picking at rusted parts. Jeez--I still go nuts when I go by one! I want to touch everything and get lost in the debris. I don't mind pulling parts for my car if they're something simple like a new ashtray lid or something silly, but serious parts--no thanks! If I could haunt as a car, it'd be a... "Thing" from the 70s--I always liked how their doors and windows and windshield could come off and I'm an exhibitionist by nature, so maybe that'd be a good one for me. If someone's still driving one of those--they're probably haunted already.

  3. Found you over at Geof's
    Love your blog!!!

  4. Hey Lisa Marie;
    So glad you came over to check out the blog. Hope you stick around. I like to incite conversations all the time, so feel free to jump in!

  5. Very interesting post. I was wondering what those abandoned, rundown vehicles have been through and what stories they can tell. I think some spirits could still be with a car especially if a personal died in it. I don't think there are demon cars that run on their own and kill people like in the movies, at least I haven't heard of one, lol.

  6. Hey Julie;
    I'm kinda wondering if maybe there's zombies driving around the roads these days being led around by their masters (cell phone devices), but I'm just not seeing rider-less cars. Darn! That would make it certainly interesting. Just who do you flip off when they cut you off?

  7. autumnforest--i read the book "christine" all the way through my pregnancy with tiffany...hence, her middle name is leigh! that book scared the crap outta me!

  8. Libby-Girl;
    That was a classic creepy story!

  9. There is a great phantom car story here . It is associated with a place called Hell's Gates. They are a set of rusted old gates on a mountain and supposedly if you park in front of them a phanotm car without a driver will pursue you down the mountain. My husband swears he's seen the car.

  10. Jessica;
    You have to write about that on your blog--I'd love to hear it. We had a few phantom car stories where I grew up, but they were really only passed around by the pot smoking boys that hung out in the woods and tried to one-up each other on storytelling, so considering the source, they were more stupid than chilling.

  11. I wonder if the fence in the video wasn't attached properly and when the car being chased was able to just push it up over the car to go under it and then the fence just quickly snapped back into place before the cop car turned to see it. You'd think the police would have investigated that. Or maybe they did, and they found that wasn't that issue. Or maybe they did and they just didn't mention it on TV in order to make it seem more mysterious.

  12. Jeff;
    You're right. I've wondered the same. Cops aren't usually debunkers. They're just wrangle up the bad guys. I think it'd be up to investigators, but honestly why would they investigate? Apparently, someone got the dash film and decided to show just the part of it they wanted. You never know how much it's edited. They should have had a resolution and we didn't see it.

  13. Hi really haunted cars a ghost can go inside the cars the last time i Buy viagra for mi girl but for the haunted car it didnot happend.

  14. I drive a haunted hearse. It makes thudding noise in the casket compartment similar to a muffled open palm slapping metal; sounds the same from the inside and out. What I want to know is, why would a hearse be haunted? Could it have been a mortician, or perhaps a hearse enthusiast like me? Also, what would happen to the entity if something awful happened to my vehicle and it was send to the car crusher? In the case of a haunted house, if the house is torn down and rebuilt on the same site, that new house is usually haunted as well. But a vehicle? What happens to the entity of a haunted vehicle when it is destroyed?

    1. Great questions. Some folks think the parts from crashed vehicles carry the memory of the car. I'm not sure I buy that since a car is not a living organism with cell memory. But, as a psychometrist, I know that objects can carry emotions and even the mental images of the person who was in contact with them. It doesn't mean the person is still part of that object, but that I can access someone who once had contact with it. Given that a hearse repeatedly had to roll in and out coffins and have pole bearers yanking it out and such, it could have sound memories from the past that replay under the right conditions, like the booted footsteps on the stairs in my childhood home would replay 100 years after the Civil War.



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