Every year, up to 125,000 people die on the roads. It is not surprising, therefore, that a number of urban myth
s have arisen around certain vehicles. The two listed bellow are among the most well known myths associated with cars, though by no means the only ones.
In 1914, French car manufacturer Phaeton completed construction of a large open-topped vehicle capable of carrying up to six people, painted blood-red. How appropriate. In July 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were seated to the rear of the vehicle, alongside a general. In the front section rode two dignitaries and a chauffeur, whilst on tour in Sarajevo . While traveling through an urban area, the car ran into a crowd of people waving Bosnian flags, one of whom threw a bomb at the back window, intending destroy the car and its passengers. Instead of detonating, however the bomb glanced off the window, rolled round to the back of the vehicle and detonated, killing the four horses and sending their riders who had been following the motorcade into the crowd. The car accelerated and escaped, however the chauffeur, for reasons still unknown, drove into a small dead end road, where a young man hurried out of a house carrying a pistol, and jumped onto the running board of the car, from where he discharged six rounds into the archduke and his wife at point blank range. Though his wife died instantly, the archduke was still alive. However, as it was custom to sew up a uniform, by the time it was removed to treat him he had bled to death. It is said that, as the Archduke sat bleeding to death, he turned to his wife and said: br>
Please, don't die, for the children. br>
The assassination of the Archduke and his wife, attributed to the Black Hand terrorist movement, still in existence today, was one of the main causes of the upstart of World War One.
In 1914, an Austrian general took the Archdukes car and nine days later suffered a gigantic defeat at the hands of the Serbians. He later went insane and died mysteriously. The car then fell into the hands of Captain Raska. Driving in the mountains, he rounded a corner to see two peasants in the road. Swerving to avoid them, he hit a tree, and was impaled on his steering-wheel. He let out horrifying screams of agony, begging the peasants to shoot him. His screams died away as he did likewise.
The car then fell into the hands of the Governor of Sarajevo, a man named Alexandrovac, a vintage car enthusiast. He had four accidents with the car in four months, then crashed and lost his arm. Months later, the car was found overturned in a ditch - the governor dead, crushed by the weight of his vehicle. The car was then passed on to a doctor, who, having laughed off the local superstitions surrounding the car, was found dead months later, crushed under the wheels. It is still unknown how his body came to be there, but somehow the vehicle had rolled on top of him and crushed his spine. The car was then purchased by a land-owner named Graco. However, whilst being driven through the countryside, the car engine failed. Graco flagged down a farmer to tow the vehicle with his horse and cart, but the vehicle started up again and killed the farmer and his horse, and Graco was thrown into the windscreen and bled to death.
The car was then repainted blue and sold to a man named Tiber Hirschfield. He was driving five people on a journey one day when he lost control. The car hit a wall and all six people died instantly. The car was repaired and five more people died whilst driving it over the next four years. It was eventually put on display in a museum in Vienna. In 1944, a curator told his work colleges he had experienced nightmares about losing his head the night before. Later that night, a British bomber plane dropped a bomb on the museum, blowing the car to pieces. A shard of metal was thrown across the room, decapitating the curator.
A better known tale of a cursed vehicle is that of James Dean. A successful Hollywood actor, Dean was another possessor of a supposedly jinxed car. He died after a motoring accident in 1955. After the crash, when the wreck of his car was being towed to a garage, the engine slipped and landed on a mechanic, breaking both his legs. The engine was then bought by a doctor, who put it in a racing car. He was killed when his car crashed within days. A man who had bought the drive-shaft from Deans car also died the same day in a car-crash. When the actors car was being repaired in a garage, a fire of unknown origin broke out and almost destroyed the vehicle. The jinxed car was then put on display in a museum, where it fell off its mount and landed on a teenager, crushing his hip. The car was then taken to Oregon, where it fell off a truck and smashed into a shop-front. Finally, in 1959, for unknown reasons, James Dean's car broke into eleven pieces whilst sitting stationary on steel supports.
While there is little evidence to support the former, the latter story has been featured in countless books and articles over the years, and has become a well known and well documented story.
Blundell and Hall's Marvels and Mysteries of the Unexplained
Frank Slemens Mind's Secrets