There is a wide range of ghostly phenomena out there, ranging from hauntings, to spectral apparitions, to other even weirder things. There is no common explanation for any of it, and it all swirls out there beyond our understanding. One very bizarre type of phantom encounter is that of mysterious vehicles that don’t seem to be firmly anchored within the world as we know it. They cruise about on the periphery of our understanding, inviting many questions but answering few.
One of the most well known of the phantom cars is one that originates in the former Soviet Unions and which involves a phantom black vehicle that has come to be known as the Black Volga. Tales of this spectral vehicle go back to the 60s and 70s, when an intimidating jet-black Volga limousine with white rims, tinted windows, curtains, horns on its rear-view mirrors, and often described as completely spotless or with the ability to accelerate way faster than a normal car, was said to roam about all over the Soviet Union and in some cases even Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Mongolia, terrorizing locals wherever it went.
The tale goes that the phantom Black Volga would appear from seemingly out of nowhere to pull up to people, mostly children, and abduct them. Anyone who tried to interfere in this dark business or to even come too close was said to either drop dead on the spot or within 24 hours of the encounter, making the mysterious vehicle a sight that instilled great fear in anyone who laid eyes upon it. In some stories the car is said to be completely impervious to damage as well.
One harrowing 1960s report from the Ukraine told of the mysterious black car pulling up to two young girls, after which the doors opened and the two were seemingly sucked into the vehicle as if it were a vacuum cleaner. The witness, a middle aged man, ran to their aide and pried the driver’s side door open, notably not dropping dead like the lore suggested he should. When the door was open, the witness was able to see that indeed there was no one behind the wheel at all, and that the front of the car was completely empty. That was about all that he was able to ascertain before there was allegedly a blinding white flash and the man woke up 24 hours later with a terrible headache.
Throughout these spooky incidents, no one was ever able to see who was driving the car or cars, and this led to rampant speculation over who could possibly be behind the wheel. Some theories claimed that the victims were killed so that their organs could be sold on the black market. Others pointed to a shadowy group trying to sow social unrest, while others blamed government agents, or Satanists or some other dark cult. Many locals went as far as to claim that the Devil himself was driving the Black Volga. In recent years there have even been suggestions that it was none other than the men in black themselves on some nefarious, no doubt UFO related mission.
Considering that the Volga was an extremely expensive luxury vehicle at the time only driven by the most affluent, it was thought that whoever was in there was wealthy and/or well-connected. After the 70s, accounts of the mysterious Black Volga drop off considerably, so it is hard to ascertain how much truth any of the eerie stories hold, if any at all. What was the Black Volga? Was it as has variously been speculated some possessed car powered by a mysterious force, the KGB, black market organ dealers, a secret organization, the men in black, Satanists, demons, or even Satan himself, or is it all government propaganda, fear mongering, or merely an urban legend? No one really knows, but the tale has sown terror throughout the area. A more modern version of the Black Volga from the same region involves a black BMW or Mercedes, often described with horns coming out of where the rear view mirrors should be. The car is driven by a mysterious man who will ask for the time, only to kill the person when they approach or whisk them off to who knows where.
Moving over to the United Kingdom we have tales of an enigmatic phantom car from the villages of Athleague and Mount Talbot, in Ireland. In the 1920s there was frequently reported a spectral “motor-car” that went far faster than anything available at the time and which could phase through whatever got in its way. One article from Jan 22, 1927 edition of WMN said of this mysterious vehicle:
Witnesses in the locality state that on many occasions about midnight a mysterious vehicle somewhat like a high-powered motor-car ablaze with light dashes noiselessly through the roads. There is apparently no driver, but seated in the car are a number of white-robed figures. Walls, ditches, fields, and plantations present no obstacle to the car. The superstitiously inclined connect the visitation with a tragic occurrence in a neighbouring estate when, during the recent troubles, a landlord and his wife were driving from their homes and died of fright. Local inhabitants are afraid to leave their homes after nightfall.
In later years we have reports from the 1950s of a ghostly car said to terrorize a stretch of desolate road in Kent County, in South East England. The car was usually described as black and of a very old fashioned make and model, but was said to have the speed, handling, and capabilities of something far more advanced. While a driver was usually not seen to be present in the vehicle, which seemed to be driving itself, there are other reports of a fog-like wraith said to be its driver. One report from October of 1950 said of such an account:
Driving through Hildenborough at 7 a.m. on Sunday, a motorist observed another car parked by the roadside in a deserted spot. He saw the shadow of man outlined against the mist, in the driving seat. He got out of his own car and shook the other car violently but the huddled figure did not move. Tonbridge police were told but on investigation they could not find a car on that particular stretch of road, and now take the very material view that the silent driver was waiting for the mist to rise before proceeding.
In other countries we come to Australia, which also has its reports of phantom vehicles, especially in an area near a town known as Kaniya. Here there is said to be a spectral car that tears along the roads at great speed only to vanish into thin air without warning. One incident from 2012 allegedly happened to three MotoGP race car drivers heading from an event at Phillip Island, Victoria back to their home town in Adelaide, South Australia, a journey of about 560 miles, meaning they would drive all night in shifts. At the time of their incident, one of the drivers was asleep in the back while the other two were awake in the front. It was about 4:30 AM, and they were between the towns of Nhill and Kaniva, and the witness would explain:
I’d only seen a handful of cars between Horsham and Nhill, So I was surprised when I saw a car way off in the distance behind us, It was catching us up too. I was surprised at the speed this car was catching up, I was already going over the speed limit by 30 Km/h, I estimated it going probably 160 Km/h. Nathan suggested it might be the Police, So I dropped back to 100 Km/h, Kinda futile I know but at least we’d know if it was a copper.
Eventually the car caught us up, But just sat behind us. There was no streetlights being country Australia so neither Me nor Nathan couldn’t accurately identify the car, But I did notice the headlights on the car were very old, Like what you’d find on a Model T Ford or Brum, If you’ve ever watched that TV show. They were round and fairly dim. By this stage, We’d worked out it wasn’t a Cop. But why wasn’t it trying to overtake us? It was a single lane each side, two-way road. So there was plenty of room to pass. And I hadn’t seen a car going the other way in about half an hour. An overtaking lane approached us, So Nathan suggested I move into that lane so the car behind us can overtake. I move into the lane and guess what? The car followed. I then slow down to 80 Km/h to try and convince him to overtake, But he doesn’t, he just stays behind, Although now I can’t see his headlights at all. The car is that close to ours.
The two increasingly worried men decided to open their windows to see if they could discern anything from the vehicle’s engine noise, but were surprised to hear that, although they were tearing along at 80 mph and the car was a mere inches from their bumper, they could hear no noise at all emanating from it, as if it were completely silent. The witness would go on to explain:
Back at 130 km/h and the car is still behind us, Matching our speed. Still inches away from our back bumper. Both Me and Nathan were freaking out a bit now. Why wouldn’t the car pass us? Why was he driving SO close? We were approaching Kaniva by this stage, There’s a big streetlight right on the edge of the Town and then streetlights all through the main street. Finally we’d be able to identify the car! We pass through the streetlights and look behind us, The car had stopped following. Right before the streetlight. It had simply stopped in the middle of the road. We still couldn’t work out what kind of car it was, But we didn’t want to turn around and find out!
Interestingly there is said to be a ghostly 1940s-era big rig truck said to haunt the same roads near Kaniva. Indeed, according to a news report in a 1951 edition of the Argus newspaper, the mysterious truck even managed to run a truck driver clear off the road after it came heading right for him only to pass through as if nothing was there. The reports would say, “There was no crash. The maniac truck fused briefly with the big diesel outfit, passed through, and out.” It’s hard to say if this phenomenon has any connection to the ghostly car of the same area, but Kaniva seems to be a fairly scary place to drive at night either way.
Of course the United States also has its fair share of frightening accounts of mysterious cars up to no good. One is a mysterious car that is said to prowl about the area of Nixa, Missouri, which actually purportedly ran a sheriff Frank Jones off the road in 1932 to cause his tragic death, and which has on occasion also caused other near crashes. Another one is said to haunt the NC 49, which meanders through the low hills of the Uwharries, between Asheboro and Charlotte, North Carolina. It is said that in the 1940s, this two-lane, remote road was being navigated by a family late at night when they were approached by an angry vehicle acting very aggressively towards them when a truck came out of nowhere and smashed it clear off the road to leave it a twisted wreck, killing the driver.
It was not long after this that this stretch of road gained a reputation for having a very fast, very aggressive phantom car that will pull up behind other drivers at high speed. Most cars will pull to the side to let it pass, and as it does they will notice that it is a vintage, 1940s style Ford, which even more oddly doesn’t seem to have a driver. This Ford will swerve and veer around like hell to completely freak out other drivers, before dissipating into thin air as if it were never there at all, leaving one to wonder if this is the phantom remnants of that long ago crash.
A very weird account comes from Kailua, Hawaii, in 1982, and was posted on the site Castle of Spirits. The witness claims that at the time she had been out with her visiting cousin just cruising around the area along a stretch of lonely beachfront road at Lanikai. There were no other cars out at the time, but at some point while driving along this road they looked back and the witness would say:
Behind us loomed a huge, black, very shiny car. I can only say it was completely out of place and had so suddenly appeared that we were both shocked into silence. We turned from the rear view mirror and looked at each other, not saying anything but both with our eyes wide and the unspoken question between us. That took all of a second, then we both turned our heads to look out of the window, and the car was gone! There was NO WAY that car could have gone anywhere, there were no cut offs or turns or even driveways the car could have ducked into, just one long narrow road, even if there had been a place for the car to go it hadn’t the time, this had all happened in a second. I honestly don’t remember what we did or said next, we just got out of Lanikai as quickly as possible. When I think back on it now, I can’t remember having seen any driver of the mysterious, black car.
More recently still are two accounts given on the site Your Ghost Stories. The first comes from August of 2006, and supposedly takes place in Sunland, California. The witness says that he and a friend had been driving along the isolated Big Tujunga Canyon Road, when they had a very bizarre encounter. At one point the witness says that they stopped by his friend’s house to pick some things up, and as he waited outside in the car there would be some weird happenings indeed, when he noticed the indistinct shape of a car speeding down a sharp turn in the road with no headlights on. The witness would say of what happened next thus:
It is a notorious highway for being treacherous for careless drivers even during daylight hours. No one can possibly drive without headlights. Yet, to my utter astonishment, I began to barely see the shape of a car coming down the road, around the bend in front of me, without any headlights (or any lights of any kind at all)… My first thoughts were that this person must be desperate to try and get out of the canyon like this, maybe they had trouble with their car’s lights but were still attempting to drive this impossible way, perhaps they were hunched over the dashboard or something. I couldn’t believe it, and I watched it drive right by my car. When it passed by, directly parallel to the side of my car, I looked to see who was driving and I saw that no one was in the car! It was moving very slowly, and without any sounds of a motor or wheels, and like a silhouette, practically see-through. It looked like an old and greyish-colored 4-door sedan-type vehicle. I kept just staring at it in amazement and looked back to see if maybe it even had rear brake lights. No it did not either! Then it disappeared like all the other cars, into the darkness of the highway.
Also rather strange is a case from 2011, in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The witness in this case says he was driving home from work one afternoon on a beautiful, sunny day. Although the road was “smack in the middle of nowhere,” it was such a clear day that he would not have had any sort of sinister or scary vibe from the road, however, all of this would change rather quickly. As he approached one of the few intersections along the route, he claims that he saw an antique car coming up off of one of the farm roads, which he described as brown and from the 1930s. He passed the car and says he was admiring the restoration work that must have gone into it, with no feel of the supernatural at this point. However, he would explain:
After about a quarter of mile, perhaps a half mile, I looked in the mirror and was surprised to see that the car was no longer there. In most cases and in most places this would come as no surprise, but here, the middle of nowhere, there was no place the car could have gone. I came to place where I could turn around and back tracked to see if the car had fallen into the deep ditch, really the only place it could go. I found nothing.
In the ensuing years I’ve seen the car on the same road several times and and every time I’ve seen it it disappears. This is not to say I’ve actually seen the car vanish, but I’ll be watching the car, my attention is called elsewhere and when I look back the car is gone and there is no place it could have gone to. I’ve told several people and nothing. I’ve looked for the car parked in a yard or open barn and again nothing. My wife, who does believe in ghosts, thinks I’m seeing a ghost car. I have no explanation.
Ghostly phenomena certainly run the full range of the weird, and it is all largely certainly unsolved in many respects. We can only guess at what is going on beyond cases of hauntings and frightening apparitions. However, does this include vehicles as well? Can cars also become spectral anomalies that haunt and spook those who would encounter them? How can this be? Can this all be explained with the rational or is it all firmly entrenched within the unknown and unknowable? It remains to be seen.