's Most Infamous Cars Ever

December 9, 2008
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The history of cars is full of heartwarming stories and happy endings—but just as full of dark corners, blind alleys and high-speed tragedy.

Some cars have become part of our culture, because of their role in murder and mayhem. They're infamous.'s scanned through history and chosen these vehicles as the most infamous in automotive history:

Bonnie and Clyde's Ford V-8’s most infamous cars start right here with the Model A that sped into history, piloted by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. From the time they met in January 1930, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were on a date with a bloody destiny. Their cross-country blast in a Ford V-8 took them across five states from Missouri to Texas, robbing banks and gas stations and stores and killing 13 people. Barrow was famous for his love of Fords, and in the day, the V-8 Ford was the fastest car on the road. Barrow may or may not have written a letter to Ford Motor Company, saying that it "has got every other car skinned," in fact. In May of 1934, Texas and Louisiana police ambushed the duo and their gang in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, pumping 100 bullets into the car. The death car lives on display at the Primm Valley Resort in Primm, Nevada.

James Dean Porsche Spyder

James Dean Porsche Spyder

James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder

When James Dean and mechanic Rolf Wuetherich left Hollywood for a Palm Springs race on September 30, 1955, no one knew it would be Dean's last road trip. A fatalist on film, Dean became a fatality at the hands of Donald Turnupseed, a Cal Poly student who turned into Dean's path in remote Cholame, California. Dean was killed instantly--but the car lived on in bits and pieces, some say with a curse attached.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

John F. Kennedy’s Lincoln X-100 Presidential limousine

The Presidential limousine that rolled through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, was built with a glass bubble roof--one that Kennedy decided was unnecessary on a bright fall afternoon. Top down, the Lincoln--named after another assassinated president--gave Lee Harvey Oswald enough opening to down the President from a nearby building. The limousine sits restored in Dearborn's Henry Ford museum--with the bubble roof in place.

Jayne Mansfield's Buick Electra

Mansfield's career on the dumb-blonde D-list slotted her in the middle of the spectrum that ran from Jean Harlow to Marilyn Monroe, descending deeply after her into Anna Nicole oblivion. By 1967, the acting roles had dried up and Mansfield was touring supper clubs, driving to them in her Buick Electra. Her manager at the wheel, the car slid under a bug truck, killing the adults up front instantly--but saving Mansfield's three children by muscleman Mickey Hargitay. One daughter, Mariska, went on to star in today's Law and Order: SVU. This YouTube clip documents the bizarre chase for the wrecked Electra after her death:

Ted Kennedy Olds

Ted Kennedy Olds

Ted Kennedy’s Olds Delmont 88

The third Kennedy tragedy in the decade, Ted Kennedy's fatal turn off the Dike Bridge near Chappaquiddick led to the drowning death of political worker Mary Jo Kopechne--and unending whispers about the hours-long lag between the accident and the call to the police. The Olds Delmont 88 was pulled from the water--and unbelievably, Kennedy's career was pulled from the wreckage and continues almost forty years later.

David Koresh Camaro

David Koresh Camaro

David Koresh's 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Who knew the leader of the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, was also a car nut? David Koresh restored his 1968 Camaro and tooled around the Texas town in it; when the Feds descended on his compound for a 51-day siege, he became enraged that it was towed to an open field. Koresh died with 76 followers when the ATF firebombed the home, and the car was auctioned later for $37,000.

O.J. Simpson's Ford Bronco

What else is there to say about the Juice, except to note he'll be squeezed in prison for at least the next nine years, pending appeals? Simpson's low-speed chase on California freeways was followed by a staggering not-guilty verdict against charges of killing his ex-wife and her friend--but civil courts got the right verdict. In the interregnum, a whole genre of reality-cop shows have made the 405 chase their template. Roll tape:


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