A phantom vehicle, for vehicle insurance purposes, is a vehicle that causes injury, death, or damage without making physical contact. For example, a run-off-road accident can be caused by a car in the opposing direction drifting partly over the centre line of a highway, then veering away. The name refers to the fact that in most such cases, the driver of the phantom vehicle, much like a hit and run driver, leaves the scene, and thus in the subsequent accident investigation, the presence of the vehicle is known only through eye witness testimony, unless a dashcam records video evidence.
More popularly, a phantom vehicle is a supposed ghostly or haunted vehicle. No such phenomena have been scientifically verified and no research on this topic appears in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. However, many people find such stories fascinating and they are common in urban legends and entertainment.
Types of phantom vehicles
Cars and trucks
- In 1982, two people in Lanikai, Hawaii reported seeing a mysterious black car which disappeared and reappeared again a second later.
- 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.
- 2004, In Cape Town, South Africa, a Renault Mégane 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.
- The Curse of "Little Bastard": the mid-1950s Porsche 550 Spyder in which James Dean died is said to be cursed after the accidents in which it has been later involved.
- In Australia, there is a story of the ghost truck of Kaniva where a driver was 'driven through' by a mysterious, 1940s' style big rig truck painted green.
- In Germany, a car mysteriously started up by itself and rammed a wall.
- In 2000, an eyewitness claimed that an old truck started up by itself and blinked at him as he walked past an old house.
- Early 1980s - a British motorist crashed his car in order to avoid a truck that suddenly appeared coming straight towards him and then vanished.
- The curved road at the junction of St. Marks Road and Cambridge Gardens in Ladbroke Grove was reported to be haunted by a phantom bus with a route marker "7" which caused numerous accidents, one of which was fatal. The reports subsided when the area of road was straightened.
- Silverpilen (Silver Arrow) is a Stockholm Metro train which features in several urban legends alleging sightings of the train's "ghost".
- The St. Louis Ghost Train, better known as the St. Louis Light, is visible at night along an old abandoned rail line between Prince Albert and St. Louis, Saskatchewan.
- A phantom funeral train is said to run regularly from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, around the time of the annual anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death, stopping watches and clocks in surrounding areas as it passes.
- The now abandoned Rimutaka Railway Incline in New Zealand is the setting for a number of paranormal episodes. The most famous of these is that the sound of a hard working Fell locomotive can reputedly be heard echoing through the Valley, and the sound of three short whistles can be heard some nights from Featherston. The Siberia tunnel was also the setting for a single sighting of a running male human figure carrying a child, on the anniversary of the accident on 11 September 1880.
- Spirits of passengers and crew have allegedly been seen on planes containing parts from Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 which crashed in Florida in 1972.
- In 1997, eyewitnesses from the eastern USA claimed they saw a single-engine plane crash. But when the coast guard searched the waters off Connecticut, they could not find any wreckage or bodies. Also none of the airports reported any planes missing.
Boats and ships
- The Flying Dutchman, a ship manned by a captain condemned to eternally sail the seas, has long been the main legend of ghost ships.
- The Mary Celeste is perhaps the most historically famous derelict.
- My Mother the Car, a 1966 TV sitcom about the spirit of a man's mother inhabiting a restored 1928 Porter touring car
- Duel, a 1971 made-for-TV film about a large old tanker truck that continually attempts to kill a motorist (played by Dennis Weaver). Although the truck is driven by a living person, the truck driver's face is never seen, and thus the truck itself is considered the villain.
- An episode of The X-Files, "Triangle", concerns a ship that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle and reappeared 60 years later.
- Supernatural features an episode in which a truck is haunted and kills people to exact revenge.
- In Moebius (1996 film) an underground train disappears.
- The Car
- Maximum Overdrive
- Wheels of Terror
- Ghost Ship
- The Fog
- The Wraith
- The Ghost Train, 1923 play, and numerous film, television, and radio adaptations
- The Haunted Car
- The Hearse
- Road Train
- The Wrecker
- Super Hybrid
- Blades (1989 film)
- Death Car on the Freeway
- Phantom Racer
- Jeepers Creepers
- Black Cadillac
- The Horror at 37,000 Feet
- Dark Flight
- Death Ship
- Heart and Souls
- I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle
- "The Honking", a Futurama episode in which an evil car (Project S.A.T.A.N.) attacks robots and turns them into "were-cars".
- Herbie – Both Herbie and Horace (from the 1997 film the Hate Bug) are possessed cars. Herbie, however is possessed by accident, when a photo of his creator Gustav Von Stumpfel's beloved Elsa fell in a vat of molten steel used for the car.
- Phantom 309 from the song of the same name, and from the song "Big Joe, Red Sovine, & Phantom 309" (which was based upon Red Sovine's version of the song "Phantom 309"). Driven by the ghost of "Big Joe", who sometimes gives rides to hitchhikers. In the latter song, it is suggested that the ghost of Red Sovine is also riding with Big Joe in Phantom 309.
- "Riding with Private Malone", a 2001 country song recorded by David Ball
- The Godfather II: The Video Game, in Havana sometimes a ghost car would drive along the roads.
- "The Ride" has the 1950s Cadillac driven by the ghost of Hank Williams, Sr. An updated version of the song involves Dale Earnheart giving the singer a ride with his NASCAR Cup car "A stock car painted black" (Earnhardt was killed in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500 race).
- GTA: San Andreas: The player can discover a "Glendale" (a Chrysler New Yorker) in the backwoods on occasion. Sometimes the vehicle will begin driving itself, with no NPC visible inside the vehicle. This has spawned many rumors in the GTA community. However, the true reason for the "ghost car's" existence is so that the player could work their way out of the woods if they totaled their previous vehicle. The reason that it sometimes begins to move is that the car will occasionally spawn on a hill, with the parking brake disengaged, letting the car roll forward.
- "You Drive", an episode of The Twilight Zone that aired originally on January 3, 1964, features a 1956 Ford Fairlane whose driver is involved in a hit-and-run accident that injures a young boy. The boy later dies. The car engages in a series of "malfunctions", including blasting its own horn, blinking its headlights, and turning on its radio, that escalate until it starts itself up and follows its owner as he walks to work one day. The passenger side door opens, at which point the man gets in and the car drives him to the police station to confess.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated featured a ghost truck in the episode "Secret of the Ghost rig" that was stealing Crystal Cove's diamond doorknobs.
- Regular Show episode Ello Govnor featured a possessed killer black British taxi.
- RCW 48.22.030: Underinsured, hit-and-run, phantom vehicle coverage to be provided — Purpose — Definitions
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- "Ghost Car in Broad Daylight Afternoon". Castle of Spirits.com. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- 'Ghost car' mystery revealed http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Ghost-car-mystery-revealed-20041213-2
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- "The Ghost Car". Your True Tales. October 2003. p. 22.
- Curse of James Dean
- "Wreck ignition for 'ghost car' that started on its own". Cape Times. Kempten, Germany. November 7, 2005. Archived from the original on Apr 27, 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- The Old Rusty Ghost truck
- "Coventry and Warwickshire - Places - Spooky tales to chill your spine". BBC Online. 2003-09-10. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- Jeffrey, Martin. "The Ghost Bus of Ladbroke Grove". Haunted Britain. Mystery magazine. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- af Klintberg, Bengt, Råttan i pizzan. Stockholm: Norstedts Förlag, 1992. ISBN 91-1-893831-0
- Yanko, Dave. "Mystery Solved?". Virtual Saskatchewan. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
- "Abe Lincoln's Ghost Train". HallowFreaks. Archived from the original on Oct 5, 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- Phantom Plane Crashes
- Blades at the Internet Movie Database