SCENTS clinging to floor mats, imprints on leather seats, possessions stowed away in the glove box — cars retain memories in more ways than we can imagine. Perhaps that is why when tragic, violent things happen inside a car, the blight remains
with it long after the incident. We list three cars that achieved notoriety for becoming the last rides of their famous passengers.
The assassination that went on to become the immediate cause of World War I occurred when archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were shot in Sarajevo in a 1911 Graf & Stift open-top. Ironically, they were on their way to visit victims of a grenade attack they’d averted earlier that day. The royal couple breathed their last after suffering bullet shots to the throat and abdomen. Even after it changed hands 15 times, the car was involved in six accidents and 13 deaths, until it was submitted to the Museum of Military History in Vienna, where it is still displayed.
An avid racer himself, the Rebel Without a Cause actor, James Dean, was on his way to a race in California when he lost control of the Porsche he’d nicknamed ‘Little Bastard’. Parts of the car’s drive train were installed in another car in the same race, and both cars met with crashes, with one being fatal to the driver. Much like the Elder Wand from Harry Potter, the car left a bloody trail everywhere it went. A fire burnt down the garage where it was displayed, leaving only Little Bastard unscathed. And every time it was in transit, it slipped off its carrier, crushing everything in its way. Finally, it mysteriously
disappeared off the flatbed that was carrying it to George Barris, a car customiser and friend to its original owner.
In an attempt to evade paparazzi, the driver of the rented Mercedes-Benz S280 W140 600 SEL carrying Lady Diana was travelling at 105 kmph, when the car hit the wall of a tunnel in Paris. While the airbags for the front seats functioned normally, none of the occupants wore seat belts—a fact that has been cited as a reason for the severity of the injuries the Princess suffered. Disturbing reports confirm how some photographers chasing the dark blue Mercedes even stopped to photograph the mangled wreckage, which they allegedly caused.
— Team MotorScribes