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Ghosts on Wheels - Mysterious Phantom Vehicles

Suddenly I was dazzled by headlights in my rear-view mirror...

Suddenly I was dazzled by headlights in my rear-view mirror...

Saturday 4th April, 2015. The time was around 10:00pm and I was driving from Stratford-upon-Avon along the Alcester Road (A46). It was dark, with not much traffic about. My husband and I had been to a friend's housewarming party, and were on our way back home.

It was a typical relaxed journey, with good weather conditions, but as this part of the road had a reputation for being an accident black spot, I was travelling at 50MPH, despite the speed limit being 60MPH on this winding section of road.

About 1 mile before the crossroads for Temple Grafton and Billesley, bright lights illuminated the dashboard, dazzling my rear view mirror. Someone was driving right up against the back of my car in an aggressive manner. I think we have all experienced this sort of behaviour from impatient drivers, who try to bully you into going faster.

Knowing the road, I carried on driving as calmly as I could. My goal was to get home safely, determined not to be intimidated by the vehicle behind me. I knew that once we came down Red Hill, less than a mile ahead, the road would widen at the bottom and the vehicle could overtake if they wanted to.

Then it struck me as we reached that spot on the road, and a chill crawled up my spine. There was no dip. The van really had vanished.

The section on the A46 where the van first appeared behind us.

The section on the A46 where the van first appeared behind us.

Reaching Red Hill, I let the car accelerate a little until I was travelling at 60MPH. The decline was on a slight bend, but the road straightened at the bottom. It was here that the tailgating vehicle overtook me with a roar.

I saw that was a large black van, similar to a Citroen Relay or Ford Transit. On the back was painted a large skull across the rear doors, in a Mexican “Dia de los Muertos” style, silver and white, with red flowers.

The van accelerated after overtaking, and must have been doing at least 90MPH. Then as it had put a gap of about a quarter of a mile between us, it looked as if it went down a dip in the road. I could see its lights no more.

By the time we reached The Stag Inn at Red Hill, the vehicle was driving aggressively behind my car.

By the time we reached The Stag Inn at Red Hill, the vehicle was driving aggressively behind my car.

"That van just vanished", my husband exclaimed.

"No, it just went in a dip. We can’t see it," I replied, trying to keep my logical head on. But those tail-lights never re-appeared.

Then it struck me as we reached that spot on the road, and a chill crawled up my spine.

There was no dip. The van really had vanished. There was no lay-by that it could have pulled into, and the road was perfectly straight and level. There are smaller roads off the A46, but the van could not have cornered into these lanes at the speed that it was travelling without losing control. Besides, surely we would have seen the tell-tale sweep of headlights in darkness of a vehicle turning at a junction into a side-road.

Alarmed, I slowed a little to see if I could see any sign of the van. Had he crashed? Driving at that speed, I half expected to see the van in a ditch. Thankfully, nothing. But this did nothing to ease my nerves.

There was not a car ahead as far as the eye could see. The black van had just winked out of existence somehow.

The van had disappeared on a clear stretch of road.

The van had disappeared on a clear stretch of road.

When we got home, I was seriously spooked. What had we seen? Was I just imagining it? Even as I write this, I keep telling myself that the van was just going so fast that it must have zoomed ahead of us so fast that we lost track of it. There had to be a logical answer.

Poor visibility, a tired mind, winding roads, or even a wild imagination can all make something quite mundane seem to be a paranormal experience. I really don't know what we had seen, but I can only say that one minute the van was very real and physical, and the next it had seemed to have completely vanished as if it wasn't there at all.

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The remains of a Vauxhall Astra, discovered after reposts of a ghostly car crash.

The remains of a Vauxhall Astra, discovered after reposts of a ghostly car crash.

Ghostly Collisions

I'm not the only one to have experienced something odd during a routine drive from A to B.

An account from the early 1980's tells how on one winter's night, a man was driving through thick fog on the A45 near Ryton [1]. On his way home, he was driving carefully as like me, he knew that section of the road, and this part was a notorious accident black spot. The fog was like a wall through which the driver's headlights could not penetrate, but suddenly, the gleam of oncoming lights pierced the gloom, and to his horror he realised that a lorry was heading straight for him. The man swerved his car to avoid a collision, and crashed into an embankment. The lorry then vanished without a trace. There have been more sightings on foggy nights by motorists that have reported seeing a lorry swerving through the fog on the wrong side of the road. Nobody has ever seen the face of the driver, and every time it appears, it has disappeared into thin air.

Police in Surrey were inundated with calls one night in December 2002, from drivers who had spotted a speeding car lose control and leave the road on the A3 in Burpham [2]. When Police arrived they discovered no sign of a recent crash and were about to leave, when an officer discovered the remains of a Vauxhall Astra hidden by undergrowth in a ditch. Nearby the remains of an unfortunate young man were found. The driver of the car had tried to crawl to the road, but had died from his injuries and had been hidden from view in the ditch. By the level of decomposition, it is believed that the crash occurred five months prior to being found. 21-year-old Christopher Brian Chandler from Middlesex, was identified as the deceased young man, who had been on the run from Police since July 16th 2002 in relation to a robbery. Was this sighting of a car crash a spectral vision of this fatal crash five months earlier?

A London Bus, typical of the 1930s.

A London Bus, typical of the 1930s.

North Kensington, London, had its own phantom bus [3]. It displayed a number 7 on its route marker at the front of the bus, but this vehicle was far from a harbinger of good-fortune to those that saw it. This vehicle caused a menace in the 1930s.

There was at that time a junction on a bend between Cambridge Gardens and St. Mark's Road which had been a scene of many accidents. Buses had long stopped using this junction, but one kept appearing, causing further crashes when alarmed motorists swerved to avoid the vehicle;

"I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me. The lights of the top and bottom decks and the headlights were full on but I could see no crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over and mounted the pavement, scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished."

Tragedy struck when a driver swerved at this bend and hit a wall head on. An eyewitness described to the coroner during the subsequent inquest that he had seen a bus speeding towards the doomed car only moments before the driver spun off the road. As you can expect, this account was met with cynicism by the coroner, but caused a flood of witness statements from the locals to be sent to the coroner's office all testifying that that they too had seen the "Ghost Bus". A local transport official even claimed that he had seen the phantom number 7 pull up at the local bus depot in the early hours of the morning, and wait with its engine running for a short while, before it vanished.

Finally, the local council had the bend straightened out. Accidents at the junction were greatly reduced, and no more sightings of the "Ghost Bus" were reported.

Deja vu on the highway. Haven't you seen that car before?

Deja vu on the highway. Haven't you seen that car before?

Stuck in a Loop

Other people have described how they have overtaken a slow-moving vehicle, only to find that they are stuck behind it a few miles ahead.

An account from the USA in the mid-1990s explains how a driver overtook a vehicle Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, only to find it waiting for him at a set of traffic lights. This encounter took place in broad daylight on a sunny day, but left the driver that witnessed it spooked;

"I noticed an ugly light brown rusty car that looked like it was from the late 60's or early 70's covered in bumper stickers. The bumper stickers also looked like they were from the 1970's (really big, really large block type print). The car was really loud, like it had a hole in it's exhaust. It was traveling slowly, only about 40MPH and it was in my lane so I slowed down, and memorized some of the politically charged bumper stickers. I switched lanes, sped up to about 70, and saw the car left in the dust in my rear view mirror. I continued to look back and there was no other traffic at all, and there are no turn offs on this stretch of road but when I had to stop at the red light, there was the very same ugly car waiting for me at the stoplight! I thought I must be crazy, but I know no one passed me and I left this car in the dust. All the bumper stickers were the same, it made the same sound, it had rust in all the same places. It was definitely the same car I left in my dust that vanished in my rear view mirror only to reappear ahead of me without passing me somehow. I was baffled on how this was possible."

The driver described how he took a good look at the driver of the battered old car, and saw that it was a pale young man wearing a black sweater, with dark hair, who appeared to be in his teenage years. The driver explained that whenever he saw this driver, the young man didn't move at all, and appeared almost to be a still from a photograph.

On reaching a straight stretch of road, this driver overtook the slower car again, and again found the old car waiting for him at the next set of lights.

Ghost car in the wrong lane on a roundabout?

Ghost car in the wrong lane on a roundabout?

"Feeling rather perplexed I had to put it down to a 'glitch in the matrix' as I genuinely can't think of a plausible explanation."

This American man is not the only person to have overtaken the same car twice; without it being possible for it to have taken a short cut to get ahead. A friend of mine who we shall call Claire to protect her identity, shared a similar experience whilst driving in the county of Surrey, in England:

"I was on my home from work around 5:00pm one afternoon in March 2015. I was negotiating a busy roundabout on the A31 near Farnham, Surrey, which is not far from where I live.

The lane layout is unusual and non locals are frequently in the wrong lane, only realising as they begin to be siphoned off to the wrong exit. One such car was having to make a last minute lane change as I came around behind it. It was a distinctive car due to its colour and age, namely a gold Austin Maestro. Not a vehicle you commonly see on the roads now as it came out of production over 20 years ago. It was being driven very slowly and it was overloaded, stuffed with belongings which obscured the rear windows.

Frustrated by yet another last minute lane changer and not wanting to be stuck behind it, I manoeuvred around the gold car using the inside lane of the roundabout which was clear of traffic, and then returned to my original lane now in front of the heavily laden vehicle.

I carried on around the roundabout, leaving at my usual exit towards Guildford and accelerated up to dual carriageway speed.

After approximately a kilometre I was somewhat stunned to see an identical, luggage stuffed, gold Austin Maestro crawling along in the slow lane in front of me. As I passed it in the fast lane it appeared to be the exact same vehicle I had overtaken in the roundabout only moments before.

There are no short cuts or alternative routes it could have taken that would have brought it out in front of me, and was so distinctive I find it very hard to believe that they were two different cars. Feeling rather perplexed I had to put it down to a 'glitch in the matrix' as I genuinely can't think of a plausible explanation."

So there you have it. Roads can be very strange places, and many encounter the unexplained on their journeys.

If you do happen to be the owner of a black van with some seriously impressive Mexican skull art on the back doors, please get in touch so I can put my encounter to rest!


[1] BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, "Now you see it, now you don't".

[2] GetSurrey, "A3 'ghost crash' remembered 10 years on"

[3] Martin Jeffrey, "The Ghost Bus of Ladbrook Grove"

© 2015 Pollyanna Jones


Pollyanna Jones (author) from United Kingdom on September 18, 2015:

Brian, it left me scratching my head, that's for sure. And the design on the back... made it feel as if it was a cheesy horror film!

Alicia, I just wanted to try to understand what was going on. Strange how so many others have seen similar things too!

Nathan, I wonder if that is possible? It would be very spooky if it did. There are often bad accidents on that road, usually caused by people speeding or over-taking badly. I've tried to find out if there was a van like this in an accident, but it is very hard to track down individual RTAs.

Nathan M from Tucson on September 18, 2015:

Interesting hub. You even included one of my favorite strange stories: The London Ghost Bus of the 1930s. I wonder if the van you saw was speeding at that rate on another earlier evening, and met with an accident?

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2015:

You've included some fascinating and eerie stories in this hub, Pollyanna. Although they must have been very disconcerting for you and the other people that you mention, the experiences that you describe are very interesting!

Brian Langston from Languedoc Roussillon on September 03, 2015:

Fascinating Hub again Polly...and what an interesting personal experience. There are a number of stories about vengeful ghosts stalking the highways and byways trying to cause accidents. Looks as though you may have encountered the 'pimped-up phantom of Old Stratford Town'!

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