Gear: How Well Do You Know Your Automotive Mysteries?

How Well Do You Know Your Automotive Mysteries?

By Benjamin Shahrabani
July 27, 2015

The bookHistory’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed
Author: Matt Stone & Preston Lerner
Pages: 256
PurchaseClick here

Did you hear about it? Read about it somewhere? See it online?

The internet and social media are awash with stories, articles, and tweets about so-called factual stories. Of course, while the majority of the information is usually true when it is coming from a reputable source, things get far murkier when information gets passed down, again, and again. Trust, but verify.

Fact checking has its origins in the early 20th century, when editors of newspapers and periodicals began to check and verify statements made before publication, increasing the credibility and trustworthiness of the articles, and documents. Today, fact checking is most often associated with political journalism, but, of course, can be used in any field, including the automotive one.

Authors Matt Stone, and Preston Lerner, both well established automotive journalists and authors—the duo also collaborated on the Paul Newman racing biography, Winning—this time turn their attentions on some of the most popular automotive-based controversies in History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed: James Dean’s Killer Porsche, NASCAR’s Fastest Monkey, Bonnie and Clyde’s Getaway Car, and More.

You’ve probably heard some of these stories before, but you’ve never heard them told in this amount of detail: Was James Dean’s Porsche Spyder cursed? Did Steve McQueen do all of the stunt driving in Bullitt? Were all the Ford’s Model T’s actually painted black? Did NASCAR legend Smokey Yunick really drive away in a race car with the gas tank removed? Did the outlaws Clyde Barrow & John Dillinger write “thank you” letters to Henry Ford telling him how they only drove Ford V-8’s because they were the fleetest, best for making a successful getaway? Did Rodney King actually get his 68-horsepower Hyundai Excel up to 115 mph during the infamous chase, as some eyewitnesses say he did? Was oil heiress Sandra West really buried in her favorite Ferrari? Did a monkey by the name of Jocko Flocko really win a Grand National race? The answers might not be what you think, and Stone and Lerner get to the bottom of these…and more.

The authors divide up their selections into six different sections: Urban Legends, Crime, Racing, Hollywood, Death, and Inside Industry. With a critical eye, a bit of common sense, and backed by copious research, interviews, and photographs, the authors dissect the twenty-five tales told within, and certify them as true, or false.

In the vein of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, this book aims to get at the facts of the matter, and put to rest some automotive urban legends. A reader is bound to get engrossed into more than a few of the stories told within, and while some are more interesting than others, and the focus is decidedly American-centric, Stone and Lerner’s book is a fun read, and an easy way to pass some time.

Sometimes, facts really are stranger than fiction, but who doesn’t love to be surprised—while learning new things about cars?

Purchase: History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

So here’s one of the greatest automotive mysteries yet to be resolved . Why was it that Ingrid Bergman refused delivery of the custom Ferrari 375MM Roberto Rossellini had built for her that included a custom color named for Ms Bergman [ Bergman Silver ] – What happened to the car immediately after its completion and Ms Bergman refusing delivery ? [ that’s the informational black hole of the century when it comes to Ferrari history ] and how many hands has it passed thru since its completion ?

Truly a mystery worthy of of its own book should the facts ever be uncovered . By the way the car is a real stunner ! Perhaps the most stunning custom Ferrari of all time .

And no … I don’t know either . Believe me I wish I did !

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

Benjamin – What little is known is more or less available on the net . Here’s what I know . Roberto ordered the beauty for Ingrid it seems at a point when they were separated . Once the car was finished she absolutely refused to take delivery of it [ no reason was ever given ] What happened then is a bit of a mystery and one so far none of the family including Isabella has been willing to expound on such as ; Did Roberto keep it ? Did he ever drive it ? [ rumors say yes ] Sell it ? Put it into storage etc . All thats known for sure is it fell off the radar with the odd photo here and unsubstantiated rumor there . Then several years ago the car reappeared /resurfaced in the hands of a very reclusive and private owner who has been very reluctant to even allow the car to be examined though he has put the car on display once or twice .

[ trust me I get why the owner choses to remain anonymous in this digital lack of privacy age but I wish he’d at least allow the car to be examined and photographed thru an intermediary ]

There are no doubt some of the build sheets still available thru Ferrari Historic for the car despite Ferrari’s somewhat sloppy record keeping and like I said the odd rumor here .. sighting there .. photos etc [ the book ” Ferrari ; The Man and the Machine ” had a great color photo of the car taken back in the 60’s or 70’s ] but other than that its a mystery veiled under a blanket of intentionally very thick fog

Its pretty amazing that even in this digital age along with an almost fanatical need for more Ferrari history that this particular car has managed to remain such a mystery to this very day . Speculation and rumors abounding but the facts are very thin on the ground .

Good luck if you guys do decide to give it a go and regardless thanks for considering it .

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