5 More of the craziest missing car stories
The mysteries continue!
Last week's article was met with a rather overwhelming response (thank you!!!) of not only support, but strong criticisms from people who said I missed out a few rather significant examples of missing classic cars.
And you're absolutely right! Truthfully speaking, there's more than 20 cases of cars that haven't seen the public eye in a long time, but it's the story behind some of those that baffle us the most.
Coming up now are five more examples of why you should keep your wits about you.
Chrysler Norseman - sunk at the bottom of the ocean
The Norseman was supposed to be showcased to the public at an auto show in 1957 as Chrysler's main exhibit. It was a fascinating piece of design, being assembled by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy before being loaded onto the SS Andrea Doria for New York City in July, 1956.
The boat was involved in a collision off the coast of Massachusetts and sunk, killing 51 people and a loss of all cargo - including the Norseman. It is believed that all that remains is the engine block due to the heavy sea corrosion.
The car therefore was never seen by the public and only very few of the people who styled it laid eyes on it. The car was powered by a 5.4 litre (331ci) Hemi V8 mated to a Powerflite automatic transmission. Power was 235bhp and the sweeping fastback design would go on to become trendy a decade later in cars such as the Mustang, AMC Marlin Rambler and original Plymouth Barracuda.
Shelby Cobra Daytona CX2287 - a hidden truth?
Chassis CSX2287 is not only the most important of all six of the Cobra Daytonas produced, but has the craziest history attached to it - one that really shocks the heart.
This is the original Daytona prototype in which all the other examples were based off: after being piloted by many famous racing drivers, Carroll Shelby sold it to toy car company founder, Jim Russell before later being passed onto music producer, Phil Spector who wanted to use it on the street. He didn't like the cost of upkeeping such a beast, so it was then passed onto his bodyguard, George Brand.
Brand then passed the car onto his daughter, Donna O'Hara who is the main subject of this crazy story. She used the car with her partner for a few years before parking it up in 1971 where it was kept until 2000, with all rent being paid for the storage unit in California.
Once word got out that an ultra-valuable Cobra was laying in a unit, O'Hara received numerous offers for it, including one from Carroll Shelby himself, and they were rejected. Shockingly, on 22nd October, 2000, police were called to a scene to find O'Hara setting herself on fire underneath a bridge! She eventually died from her injuries and it took the police months to identify her, but the mystery of why she did so has always remined.
After a complicated legal battle, the car was eventually bought for $4 million by a neurosurgeon before eventually being sold again and ending up in the hands of the Simeone Automotive Museum in Pennsylvania. It remains there to this day.
James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder - cursed?
Image: Porsche Media
The story of 'Little Bastard' is more of a cursed horror story than it is a fascinating tale. Actor, James Dean was famously killed in 1955 at the age of 24 when he collided his 550 Spyder into an oncoming car on the way to a race meet.
The curse of the Porsche carried on as after a tour of car shows, movie theatres and bowling alleys hosted by the National Safety Council between 1957-59, it survived a fire while being garaged in Fresno, California.
Customiser, George Barris sold a couple of the tyres off the car and both of which blew on the customers' cars which they were installed to. The engine was installed into a Lotus IX race car which then crashed and killed its driver, Troy McHenry. The car is also said to have fallen on George Barkus, who was meant to be transporting it to a road safety expo. It is also said to have fallen from its display while being shown in Sacramento, breaking the hip of a bystander.
The car was stolen in 1960 from a trailer and parts are said to have been scattered all across the United States. The remains of the Porsche are still unknown to this day, although the rear transaxle was recently discovered in September, 2020.
Oldsmobile Golden Rocket - still hidden away somewhere?
A common practice for concept cars in the 1950s was to crush them shortly after they were displayed to the public. This was to avoid liability concerns and pretty much anything regarding legalities.
The Golden Rocket was yet another striking GM concept car designed for the 1956 General Motors Motorama show where the company would display their wildest concepts. However, alleged photographic evidence suggests the Golden Rocket wasn't crushed after the show and was still around as late as 1962 with no confirmation of it ever being destroyed.
Some believe it still resides somewhere in New Jersey, but like a few other lost show cars, historians believe the Golden Rocket will never be seen again. But the design influences would be later seen on the late C1 Chevrolet Corvettes and even the C2 Stingray. The gold Olds therefore served its purpose rather nicely.
It's a shame it was lost because out of all the GM concepts of the time, this is probably the most attractive one!
Horch 855 Spezial - confiscated from the Ukraine?
Image: Wikimedia Commons
A more recent example of a valuable missing car comes from a prominent political event in over in Eastern Europe and the tensions occurring in the Ukraine in 2014.
It was owned by then-Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych who had a fairly extensive car collection at the time. After the revolution, Yanukovych was ousted from power and had no choice but to flee the country. Despite the Horch's great desirability and value (especially as an asset) nobody has seen the car since with no real indication of what happened to it.
The 855 Spezial housed a 5.0 litre straight engine known for its strength and capability and only seven examples were ever made with only three known to survive. Perhaps even more bizarrely was the fact that Yanukovych's car was originally bought by one of the German SS' top-ranking officials when new before being in the hands of (supposedly) a top Soviet Red Army commander after the conquest of Berlin.
Where the car now resides is anybody's guess, but it's fair to say that the car is far too valuable to put under the crusher - especially as it would be worth approximately $2 million upwards.