Tourists pose in front of a V8 Ford one after another, smiling, gazing at the car with an open mouth, feeling a chill run down their spine. If one can get a good enough look, he might see specks of blood on the tattered seats inside the sealed cab of the car. The bullet holes wrapping around the exterior amount to over 100.
When the photo is printed or reviewed later, many of the tourists who waited their turn to get a picture with the car will find it altered in some way.
“Do you see that?” a woman says to her husband. “That right there. It’s like a smudge or a glare, or something.”
He shakes his head and shrugs. “Well, there is glass in front of the car. Maybe it’s a glare from that.”
The woman brings the phone closer to their faces, frowning. And then…then her eyes widen. “No, it’s not a glare,” she says. “It’s him.”
The couple looks from the phone to the car not twenty feet away. They’re at Whiskey Pete Casino in Primm, Nevada, where the car Bonnie and Clyde died in is on display.
An icy chill comes over the couple. They shiver. The man feels the need to put an arm around his wife, to protect her for some reason. It was something in the picture. The glare…or someone else. Other tourists will see similar, odd glares or mists in their photos too. Who they see is Clyde Barrow in the car.
Urban legends usually aren’t dated in the twentieth, nineteenth, or even eighteenth century. More often than not, what makes an urban legend is time. The longer memories and witnesses are separated from dark truths, the more rumors are fed into them, or more mystery.
In the 1960s to the 1970s, the Soviet Union’s most popular urban legend was the Black Volga. Many things that happened in that part of the world during the Soviet Union’s rule, whether found in history books or in the darkest corners of the internet, are the world’s most recent urban legends.
The Black Volga was a sleek, long black car driven by society’s elite: prosperous businessmen and government officials. The lucrative vehicle was produced for the lucrative. Rumors circulated that the cars were also driven by priests, nuns, or even Satan.
While countless pictures online illustrate the fancy, dated car, the ones to look out for had curtains in the windows. Perhaps the idea was to block the wealthy’s view from the poor as they cruised down dilapidated streets in style. Perhaps they were installed to keep outsiders from looking in.
But why would a car need curtains?
The urban legend explains that seeing a Black Volga was synonymous with seeing the Grim Reaper. You did not want to cross paths with this car because it meant you may be picked up by it, and if you were, you wouldn’t come back.
Rumors describe the car picking up children or society’s undesirables. Where they were transported isn’t known, however, wherever the car took victims, they were drained of their blood and then discarded like piles of refuse. Rumors say the Black Volga-owning vampires would use the blood for leukemia research for high-up government officials. Other rumors say if you’ve done something the government disagrees with, the Black Volga will be sent to pick you up and take you to your final destination in this life.
The urban legend isn’t clear if the Black Volga was one specific car or if it was anyone who owned the vehicle. For locals, that didn’t matter. The image of this ominous, black car coasting down the street was enough to make locals pull their own curtains closed in their homes.
Cars are one of man’s greatest inventions and throughout history have become great works of art. A tour through the Vatican takes visitors to a museum full of cars and chariots Popes used to get around in. From ornate to James Bond-esque, these vehicles are fit for a king, but were gifted to the world’s meekest figure.
At Austria’s Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna the Gräf & Stift touring car Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in is on display. The car has become a symbol of what started the first World War, as well as the curses Ferdinand may have been victim to leading up to and after his death.
The infamous story goes that Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were in Sarajevo to open a new museum, as well as study Bosnia’s military moves in June of 1914. Ferdinand’s chauffeur was unfamiliar with the area and took a wrong turn, which unfortunately landed Ferdinand a few feet in front of the man who killed him.
Yes, it seems like the unluckiest mistake of all time, but history has revealed that this moment may have been more premeditated than imaginable.
The heir to the Austrian thrown was an exceptional huntsman, claiming well over 200,000 animals in his lifetime. One of these animals was reportedly a white stage. According to legend, if someone kills a white stag, he or a family member will die within the next year.
More evidence points to the car’s license plate, which was AIII 118. British visitor to the museum in Vienna, Brian Presland, noticed the license plate and notified the hotel of its significance. He read the license plate as Armistice 11-11-18. Armistice means truce, ceasefire, or an end to a fight. November 11, 1918 is the date WWI ended.
Is it possible the license plate on the car––the vehicle involved in the event that sparked WWI––also prophesied the war’s end?
The probability seems more coincidental, yet alarmingly accurate.
After Ferdinand’s death, the Governor of Yugoslavia repaired the car and became its new owner. Four accidents and a missing arm later, the governor suggested the car be destroyed. His friend, a doctor, disagreed and took the car off his hands. Six months later the car was found flipped over in the driveway, with the doctor underneath it. The car went to another doctor, who sold it when he was losing business because his superstitious patients refused to seek his practice.
The next owner was a Swiss race driver, who competed with the car long enough for it to eject him over a stone wall where he broke his neck and died. After that a farmer got his hands on it, only to have it break down on him on the way into town. As another farmer was helping him tow it, the car roared to life without warning and killed both men by running over them. The next (and thankfully the last) owner of the vehicle repainted the blood red to a calming blue. While he and his four friends were on their way to a wedding, the car got into a head on collision, killing everyone in the car.
Mike Dash writes a riveting article about the car at Smithsonian.com, where he retells these cursed stories and debunks most of them, like the fateful owners of the car after Ferdinand’s death. But like any rumor, there’s a little bit of truth embedded somewhere within it.