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Three Auto-Related Urban Legends, Just in Time for Halloween

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On: Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 9:07AM | By: Bill Wilson

Three Auto-Related Urban Legends, Just in Time for Halloween

Cars have been inspiring weird stories ever since Henry Ford came out with the Model T.  They’re a staple part of urban legends, those odd accounts that move through society faster than a Ferrari on the Autobahn.  Here’s a look at three of these strange tales.

The Fatal Picnic
|This legend is popular in mountainous regions of the country. It stems from the fact that steep, hilly roads often have emergency exit ramps. They’re meant solely for big rigs with failing brakes. The ramps are really just short dirt roads. They run up the side of a mountain for 100 yards or so till they end at a stone wall.

The story is that family members are on vacation when they see a perfect place to have a picnic. It’s at the end of an unpaved road that runs directly off the side of the interstate. The driver maneuvers the minivan to the top of the outlook and parks on the incline. The family lays its spread out across a flat area and starts to eat.

All is well, until a trucker going down a steep grade nearby starts having problems with his brakes. He begins to panic, then remembers the emergency exit coming up. As soon as he spots it he turns the wheel hard, roaring up the ramp at 80 miles per hour. He’s so worried about losing control of his rig that he doesn’t see the picnickers until he’s almost upon them…

The Miracle Carburetor
This rumor pops up whenever gas prices are on an upward spiral. The account goes something like this. An inventor in another state recently discovered a way to adjust the average car’s fuel system so that it can get 200 miles per gallon. The job takes less than five minutes and requires no mechanical skill or expensive parts.

He takes the idea to an automaker, which in turn alerts the big oil companies. Soon afterward the inventor disappears, having either been killed or paid off. The companies cover up the story so they can keep making big bucks off the gas-buying public.

The $1 Corvette
This is one of the oldest urban legends still being told. The story varies in its details but always takes the same basic shape. A young man is browsing the want ads one day looking for his first car when he sees an ad that says, “CAR, GREAT CONDITION. $1.00,” along with a phone number. Skeptical yet curious, the teen calls the number and speaks with a woman who verifies the notice’s accuracy.

That afternoon he visits her. She takes him out to her garage, where he nearly faints when he sees that the $1.00 car is a Corvette valued at over $1,000,000. The woman explains that it belonged to her ex-husband, whom she divorced after finding out he had cheated on her. She won the car in the settlement and is selling it purely for spite. Delighted, the teen hands her a one dollar bill. Moments later, he’s happily cruising around in his “bargain” vehicle.

These stories are just a few of the countless urban legends that have been inspired by the automobile. While most are pure fiction, a handful are based on actual events. So, if you ever see an ad for a car at a giveaway price, you might want to check it out. You might drive off with the deal of a lifetime!


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