From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A phantom vehicle has two meanings. In legal terms for insurance purposes, a phantom vehicle is one that causes bodily injury, death, or property damage to an insured vehicle, but has no physical contact; for example, a run-off-road accident caused by a car in the opposing direction drifting partly over the centre line of a highway .
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.
In more detail, phantom vehicle is a term describing two types of phenomenon: either a ghostly apparation of a vehicle of some kind (usually involved in fatal car crashes; the same vehicle mysteriously reappears and disappears at the spot where the accident occurred); or a vehicle that is haunted by the spirit of a person (usually the former owner of the vehicle) which sometimes appears in the passenger seat as a ghostly apparition or appears in the rear view mirror. In the latter example, the witness could often look in the backseat of the vehicle but find nobody there. Such vehicles are often claimed to be acting strangely.
Another kind of a phantom vehicle is one that suddenly appears out of nowhere at high speed and disappears. This type of phantom vehicle (mostly cars and trucks) is reported to be driverless or is driven by a ghost of the owner of the vehicle. Witnesses often claim that they see such vehicles disappearing at spots which a normal vehicle could have crashed into.
Types of phantom vehicles
Phantom Vehicles can be ghosts of almost any form of human transportation, usually cars, trucks, trains, and ships.
Cars and trucks
There have been many reports of ghostly cars and trucks. A majority of these sightings come from rural backroads, empty highways and desolate dirt roads. Many of these sightings take place at night.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Germany, a car mysteriously started up by itself and rammed a wall.
- 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. 
- A man in Quebec reported seeing a Nissan driving down a road and suddenly crashing. However no driver was sighted in the car, yet the car was traveling normally.
- In Garden City, Long Island, a ghost car lead police on a wild chase ending only when the car goes through a fence without crashing through it.
- In 1997, eyewitnesses claimed they saw a single-engine plane crash. But when the coast guard searched the waters off Connecticut, they couldn't find any wreckage or bodies. Also none of the airports reported any planes missing.
- Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 crashed into the Florida Everglades on the night of December 29, 1972, causing 101 fatalities. Some of the recovered wreckage was later used as spare parts on other L-1011 planes of the fleet. The crew of those planes reported watching the ghosts of Captain Robert Loft and Flight Engineer Donald Repo, both deceased on flight 401, aboard their planes. The reports ceased when all the equipment coming from the doomed aircraft was removed.
Boats and ships
- The Flying Dutchman, a ship manned by a captain condemned to eternally sail the seas, has long been main legend of ghost ships.
- The Mary Celeste is perhaps the most historically famous derelict.
Phantom vehicles in popular culture
- X Files, in an episode where a ship disappear in The Bermuda Triangle and appear 60 years later, but without their crews and passengers.
- The Car
- Maximum Overdrive
- Wheels of Terror
- "Trucks (short story)"
- Ghost Ship (2002 film)
- The Fog
- Nightmares (1983 film)
- The Wraith
- The Ghost Train
- The Haunted Car
- The Hearse
- Killdozer (film)
- The Wrecker
- Blades (1989 film)
- "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 is not technically a phantom car, but there was an evil Herbie in The Love Bug (1997) named Horace.
- 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
Godfather II The Video Game, in Havana sometimes a ghost car would drive along the roads. The Ride (song) has the 1950's 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.