Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Haunted Cars?

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

Above: Dash cam footage from a patrol car chasing a car that appears to be a ghost car--

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.

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 any of these movies:


  1. Let's not forget "My Mother the Car". That was a creepy car.

  2. "Christine" was pretty cool... sweet car!

  3. Christine is the best haunted car of all time, in my opinion. Seriously, though, there is a superstition I have heard among race car drivers about this subject I want to share. Apparently, if a driver has any belief in superstition he will not race his car with any parts salvaged from a fatal racing crash. Among drivers, that is a recipe for bad luck and a potentially similiar outcome for the driver racing his car with that part.