car urban legends

Halloween special: Car urban legends

Written by | Advice

Happy Halloween! Since it’s the spookiest day of the year, it seems like a great time to share some good old fashioned scary stories. Turn down the lights, turn off the telly and settle down for some ghoulish fun, miDrive style.

Wilf and Betty

Back in the 1950s, times were simpler. There was no Twitter, no mobile phones and all light-medium petting seemed to be carried out in the back of cars in woodlands or deserted lay-bys.

One warm summer’s night in around 1956, a young couple named Betty and Wilf parked up their Morris at the side of a quiet, wooded lane somewhere in Bromley. Wilf flicked on the radio and settled in to enjoy a few hours of privacy with his best girl. About twenty minutes into their snogging session, an announcement came on the radio, harshly cutting off a Doris Day hit which Betty particularly enjoyed.

The announcement was quick and to the point, stating that there had been an escape from the nearby Bethlem hospital, a notorious and ancient facility still known by some as Bedlam. Listeners were warned to stay indoors and under no circumstances approach the escapee: a violent offender with a hook in the place of his right hand.

Betty locked the car’s doors.

Wilf, who wasn’t easily startled, was unconcerned and tried to convince Betty that they were quite safe. She wasn’t having any of it and demanded to be taken home at once.

Put out by the abrupt ending of their liaison, Wilf slammed the Morris into reverse, swung around and sped off towards Betty’s house, scowling.

When they arrived at Betty’s, he was still sulking and did not get out of the car to open Betty’s door for her. Bored of arguing, Betty decided not to comment and let herself out.

As soon as Betty left the car, Wilf felt terrible for reacting so harshly to her panic and rolled down the window to apologise. Leaning out, he saw Betty’s face adopt a strange, puzzled expression for a split second. Then her eyes widened, her mouth split wide open and she let out a scream that was so loud and shrill that Wilf instinctively covered his ears.

As he clutched his head, Wilf looked down and saw what had upset Betty: a crude metal hook and some torn, bloody leather straps dangled from the chrome door handle of the Morris. Despite extensive police searches, the hook’s owner was never found.

The flat tyre

Not long after Bluewater opened, a single lady took a cheeky sick day and treated herself to a day of shopping at the massive shopping centre. She spent a happy afternoon hammering her credit card and, once she was positively laden with shopping, she called it a day and headed for the vast car park.

When she eventually found her car, the lady spotted that one of her tyres had gone completely flat; she must have picked up a pretty nasty puncture on the motorway or something.

Irritated, the woman whipped out her phone to call a friend to come help. Halfway through dialling, she realised that she’d taken a sickie and if she called her friend, who worked in the same office, it wouldn’t take long for it to get out that she was shopping when she was supposed to be laid up in bed.

She slung her shopping in the back seat, found her jack and spare wheel – both still sealed up in the manufacturer’s packaging – and got to work. After 5 minutes, the car was jacked up and all but one wheel nut was removed. The last one was stuck fast and no amount of swearing or smacking it with a tyre iron would loosen it.

As the lady was about to admit defeat, a smartly-dressed chap came striding around the corner with a briefcase in one hand and an umbrella tucked neatly under his arm. “Can I be of any assistance, madam?” he asked.

Our heroine was glad of the help and happily allowed the smart gentleman to undo the single remaining wheel nut and swap the flat tyre for the spare. Despite his professional appearance, he changed the tyre with the quick and practiced gestures of someone who had done this more than once before. It struck the woman as odd, but she didn’t think on it much further.

Within a few minutes, the smart gent had not only switched the tyres, but had also lowered the jack and packed everything away so neatly that you’d never have known it had been unpacked. Once everything was stowed away, the gent placed his briefcase in the boot and closed it. He then explained that he was parked at the opposite end of the car park and that he’d be very appreciative if the woman could give him a lift.

All of a sudden, the chap seemed very odd. Who puts their briefcase in a car and then asks for a lift? Not wanting to look impolite, the lady told him to wait just a moment while she dashed back into the shopping centre to pick up something she’d forgotten.

She came back 20 minutes later with a security guard, just in case.

The man was gone and there were scuff marks on the boot of the lady’s car. It looked as if he’d tried pretty desperately to retrieve the briefcase before leaving. Intrigued, the lady opened the boot and – with the security guard watching over her shoulder – flipped open the briefcase’s catches.

Inside the briefcase was rope, tape, plastic sheeting and a large, wickedly sharp kitchen knife. Understandably, the lady got straight on the phone to the police. They arrived quickly and almost immediately discovered that the ‘flat’ tyre in the boot wasn’t punctured at all, it had been let down deliberately…

These stories are based on traditional urban legends, but are intended purely to entertain. Any similarities to any true story (however unlikely) are purely coincidental.

By Jonathan Dudley.

Last modified: 6th May 2016