What's Your Favorite Automotive Urban Legend?

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CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.

In 1958, a small company in Haifa, Israel called Autocars, Co. introduced the Susita, a small, boxy microcar with a Reliant-sourced motor. To keep manufacturing costs low in a developing nation only ten years old, Autocars decided that the body should be made of fiberglass.

Fiberglass has many advantages as a building material for small cars. It doesn’t require expensive sheetmetal presses and dies, it is very light, and it can be repaired easily on the fly with a little epoxy and elbow grease.

Unfortunately, Israeli drivers have come to believe something else about the fiberglass bodies used by Autocars and its successors until the last Israeli-designed Rom Carmel rolled off the assembly line in 1978.


Apparently, the camels that are a common sight along roads in the Negev desert can’t resist the taste. Rumors of camels snacking on fenders and running-boards were rampant among the government employees and soldiers obliged to drive domestic.

Now that the Sussita and its successors, the Gilboa and Carmel, have all but disappeared, Israelis will usually admit that the odd collision and hopped curb were to blame for cracks and holes in bodywork, but the urban legend remains that the fiberglass cars made a handsome meal for your local Dromedary.

Do you know any other cars with their own urban legends? Let us know about them in the comments!

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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Mark Longoria

The Jato Car!


The Arizona Highway Patrol were mystified when they came upon a pile of smoldering wreckage embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The metal debris resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it turned out to be the vaporized remains of an automobile. The make of the vehicle was unidentifiable at the scene.

The folks in the lab finally figured out what it was, and pieced together the events that led up to its demise.

It seems that a former Air Force sergeant had somehow got hold of a JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) unit. JATO units are solid fuel rockets used to give heavy military transport airplanes an extra push for take-off from short airfields.

Dried desert lakebeds are the location of choice for breaking the world ground vehicle speed record. The sergeant took the JATO unit into the Arizona desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, accelerated to a high speed, and fired off the rocket.

The facts, as best as could be determined, are as follows:

The operator was driving a 1967 Chevy Impala. He ignited the JATO unit approximately 3.9 miles from the crash site. This was established by the location of a prominently scorched and melted strip of asphalt. The vehicle quickly reached a speed of between 250 and 300 mph and continued at that speed, under full power, for an additional 20-25 seconds. The soon-to-be pilot experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners.

The Chevy remained on the straight highway for approximately 2.6 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied the brakes, completely melting them, blowing the tires, and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface. The vehicle then became airborne for an additional 1.3 miles, impacted the cliff face at a height of 125 feet, and left a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock.

Most of the driver’s remains were not recovered; however, small fragments of bone, teeth, and hair were extracted from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.

Ironically a still-legible bumper sticker was found, reading

“How do you like my driving? Dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT.”