Most of us have had the experience of losing a rental car in a big parking lot. 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.
- 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 ten Michigan winters, after a near sixty year salt bath, it’s likely that little remains of the Norseman.
- 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 ed 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.