Your monthly fill of automotive intrigue 


To our new monthly newsletter - amazing stories on the secrets and culture that surround these everyday design marvels - from disappearing cars to innovations that changed the landscape

James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder

It’s probably the most famous Porsche ever built. Nicknamed ‘Little Bastard’, it’s the car James Dean was driving when he fatally struck Donald Turnupspeed’s Ford sedan on Route 466 near Cholame, California, on September 30, 1955. He’d just finished filming Giant. The badly damaged car was subsequently used to promote highway safety. In 1960, the Porsche was shipped from Florida to California. It never arrived.




Iceberg - dead ahead!

There are still many mysteries surrounding the sinking of the RMS Titanic more than 100 years ago. One involves a disappearing car - a luxury 1912 Renault Type CB Coupé de Ville. It was bought while on holiday in Europe by William E. Carter, from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. When he returned to the US on the Titanic, the car went with him. It was the only car on board. James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning movie shows it hoisted onto the ship and Leonardo and Kate's characters consummate their relationship on its back seat. Its location in the cargo area was well documented. Yet footage from the wreck shows no signs of the car’s remains. 




The disappearance of Dr Diesel

The diesel engine was invented by a brilliant German engineer, Dr Rudolf Diesel. Before World War 1, it was successfully used in German submarines. Dr Diesel crossed the North Sea on September 29, 1913, heading to the UK, apparently to discuss his new engine’s use in British Royal Navy submarines. He never made it. When the SS Dresden docked in Harwich, England, on September 30, Dr Diesel’s cabin was empty. His body was later discovered floating in the North Sea. Was he pushed by a German spy? Did he jump? Did he fall? More than 100 years later, we still don’t know.




The 'missing' Ferrari GTOs

The Ferrari 250 GTO is the world’s most valuable car. The last one to change hands sold for $70m. This gorgeous V12-powered Ferrari, built from 1962-64, was the last front-engine sports racing Ferrari, and winner of numerous high-profile races. It was Ferrari’s last sports car equally at home on road or track. It also raced illegally – or so rivals claimed. Homologation rules stipulated that Ferrari had to build 100 cars to qualify for GT racing. Boss Enzo Ferrari skipped chassis numbers to create the illusion of quantity. Only 39 250 GTOs were actually made.




Jim Morrison's Shelby Mustang

The lead singer of The Doors was given a dark blue 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 by his record company to celebrate the success of the band’s debut album. Jim Morrison drove the car frequently and gave it the nickname ‘Blue Lady’. It also appeared prominently in his 1969 film, HWY: An American Pastoral. After that, the Shelby went missing. There were rumors Morrison – who died in 1971 – had written if off, and even that he’d left it in the long-term car park at LAX, and it was towed away and sold at auction. Either way, its whereabouts remain a mystery.





The vanishing Corvette Nomad

General Motors built some stunning concept cars for its Motorama roadshows that toured and wowed car-mad America in the ’50s. As most weren’t drivable, they ended up either crushed or in auto museums. But a few have disappeared. One is the 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Nomad, in effect a station wagon version of the iconic Corvette sports car. It was known as the Waldorf Nomad, after its unveiling at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. There is a strong rumor the Nomad concept was actually stolen from GM and was kept in a warehouse for years. It’s also possible more than one prototype was built. Either way, the 1954 Nomad hasn’t been seen since the mid ’50s.




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