24 May 2012

Legendary Lost Cars

Most of us have had the experience of losing a car hire in a big car park. Maybe your cousin Eddie has had the experience of cutting his grass for the first time in five years and finding a car. We’re not talking about those cars. The cars on this list are the holy grails of automotive lore. They’re near-mythical cars that have disappeared, most likely never to be seen again.

1 1956 Chrysler Norseman: The Norseman was a concept car built by the Italian styling house of Ghia that demonstrated the feasibility of several unique styling features like a near free-standing hard top. Ghia understandably chose a fine Italian ocean liner to deliver the Norseman. Sadly, it was the ill-fated Andrea Doria, which sank off the coast of Massachusetts. Given what your average car looks like after 10 winters, after a near 60-year salt bath, it’s likely that little remains of the Norseman.

2 James Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder: In addition to being the reigning King of Cool before Steve McQueen, James Dean was also an accomplished race driver. Like McQueen, Dean favored Porsches. After trading up from a 356 Speedster to a 550 Spyder, a purpose-built race car, Dean started to come into his own as a driver. Sadly, he was killed on Sept. 30, 1955, driving the car to a race in Salinas, Calif. The remains of the car were transported around the country as part of a driver’s education campaign (ironically, the accident had nothing to do with Dean’s driving). The car disappeared during one of these tours, never to be seen again.

3 The Titanic Renault (1912 Renault Coupe de Ville): James Cameron has always been known as a bit of a detail freak, and in one quick scene from the movie of the same name, a 1912 Renault is seen being loaded into the cargo hold of the Titanic, where it remains to this day. While there is at least one car that was restored to resemble the Titanic Renault (using Lloyds of London records), the original has been in the same spot for the last 100 years.

4 1955 Lincoln Futura: The Futura was a Lincoln concept car built in 1955, and unlike most concept cars, it wasn’t crushed when its show days were over. It was sold for a buck to famous customizer George Barris and today, it hides in plain sight in an automotive museum — Barris turned the Futura into the original Batmobile for the "Batman" TV series. One copy of the car in its original form still exists.

5 James Bond’s 1965 Aston Martin DB5: Bond cars occupy a special place in the hearts of car collectors, none more so than the Aston Martin DB5, the first and most famous car to be closely associated with 007. In 1997, one of the cars to appear in the 1964 film “Goldfinger” was stolen from an airplane hangar where it was housed by its owner. It has never been recovered. It’s easy to imagine it as the personal plaything of a Russian arms trader or an oil sheik.

15 Reader Comments

  • 1
    chuck Lebanon Pa May 31, 2012 at 13:49
    Us Mustang guys would all love to know where the original "Bullitt" Mustang GT Driven by the great Steve McQueen in Bullitt. We k ow some private owner has it unwilling to share with the Collector car world (Editor's note: Check out this blog for one explanation of its whereabouts: http://themustangsource.com/timeline/67-68/68/bullitt/)
  • 2
    Dan Harmer San Diego May 31, 2012 at 14:25
    Dean was driving in limited light, in a small silver-gray car at high speed without lights. Turnipseed just didn't see him. An educated driver (driver's ed.) would have taken the precaution of being visible.
  • 3
    Roger Portland May 31, 2012 at 15:38
    And the Duetto that Dustin Hoffman drove in The Graduate?
  • 4
    Ray Honolulu May 31, 2012 at 15:47
    I have Steve McQueen Thomas Crown Dune Buggy.
  • 5
    Amanda Kissnhug Kissimmee May 31, 2012 at 18:06
    What happened to the Get Smart Sunbeam Tiger?
  • 6
    George Coleman Burlington,NC May 31, 2012 at 06:27
    What happined to the Sunbeam Alpine that was used in the first James Bond film Dr. NO?
  • 7
    dick chiasson Dedham, MA May 31, 2012 at 06:43
    On a tour of the Paul Russell restoration facility in Essex,Ma we were told that the engine from James Dean Spyder was being stored there. Call Alex Finnigan at Paul Russell to verify
  • 8
    Dave Dubie Scottsdale, Arizona May 31, 2012 at 08:46
    Thanks for the great articles. Its this kind of exciting chase that keeps car guys/gals going looking for that barnfind/garage find.
  • 9
    bob Wellesley, MA May 31, 2012 at 09:32
    Great Trivia...will throw it out to my club, "The Modifers" and see if they know the answers...Thanks.
  • 10
    Mike Hunt San Diego May 31, 2012 at 10:05
    Great articles... I have first hand knowledge that the James dean car is in a container on the west coast.
  • 11
    R West coast May 31, 2012 at 11:10
    Jim Morrison's (the doors) Shelby gt500 should be on this list!
  • 12
    R West coast May 31, 2012 at 11:10
    Jim Morrison's (the doors) Shelby gt500 should be on this list!
  • 13
    Mikje Johnson Joplin, MO June 1, 2012 at 11:25
    Really, a request for help. I have a 1978 formula firebird. Probably no big deal. It's in great shape - new interior, repainted with the formula decal package. I NEVER see these thing anywhere. Am I just sheltered? (I can take it.) (Editor's Note: Here are values for a 1978 Formula Firebird coupe, according to the latest edition of Hagerty Price Guide: Condition 4: $5,400; Condition 3: $10,400; Condition 2: $18,200; Condition 1: $23,800.)
  • 14
    Walter Clark United States June 2, 2012 at 09:45
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hagerty for giving me such great insurance service for all these years. At present I have numerous 1968 Oldsmobile Toronados and a 1940 Pontiac Torpedo Eight under their coverage. I plan for their services for my 1937 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall when I finish restoration. Also their articles are great. Thank you.
  • 15
    mike los angeles June 3, 2012 at 17:49
    ray;if you want to sell it let me know..mike barspin@sbcglobal.net

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