|The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
| Curse of the Little Bastard!
~ Rose Titus ~
Besides horror and science fiction, one of the things I most love is old cars. And like a lot of people
who love old cars, I sometimes go to car shows and hang out with other old car people. And so this I do
know: old car people gossip and tell stories just like everyone one else. In fact, old car people love to tell
crazy car stories, and these crazy car stories go around and become legends.
And, every once in a while, you hear a story about an allegedly “haunted,” “cursed,” or “possessed”
car. Are these legends true? I don’t know! Let’s do some research and find out! And a good old haunted
car legend to track down is the story of the “Curse of the Little Bastard!”
The “Little Bastard” of course is the Porsche that movie star James Dean crashed and died in, and he
gave the car that name himself. In fact, he had the name “Little Bastard” painted on the car soon after he
bought it. This tragic car crash ended the young life of one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. But, like most
wrecked autos, the destroyed Porsche was taken apart so its parts could be sold for use in repairing other
cars - a common fate for an uncommon sports car.
What happened after that is when the horror began…
One man who knows a lot about the “Curse of the Little Bastard” is George Barris. Mr. Barris is
considered the “King of the Kustomizers,” and he not only customized beautiful cars for wealthy Hollywood
clients, but also built the Batmobile, the Munster’s Koach and Drag-U-La, the Beverly Hillbillies junkie old
truck, and many other cars used in television and in the movies.
Three days before the crash that killed James Dean, the famous actor came to George Barris’ shop to
have racing stripes put on his new Porsche. George Barris later claimed he got a “bad vibe” from this car,
“a feeling,” he said, “bad vibrations, an aura … it made me useasy.” He also said, “There was something
strange about that particular car.” James Dean was planning to race the vehicle that weekend, and Barris
felt that he wanted to stop the actor as he drove away from the shop.
But he didn’t. At that time, George Barris said, he did not believe in the paranormal. Events that
followed soon changed his mind. “Everything that car has touched has turned to tragedy … I’ve never
been able to come up with logical or rational answers to the questions. The only answer seems to be that
the car was cursed.”
Friends of James Dean also said they caught bad vibes around this car, and legend has it that they
warned him about it. The young actor was eager to show off his new car to friends around Hollywood, and
when he showed the car to Alec Guiness, the Jedi Master told him, “If you get in that car, you will be found
dead in it by this time next week.” Ursula Andress refused to get in the car; somehow it frightened her.
Eartha Kitt said, “James, I don’t like this car. It’s going to kill you.” Other friends and relatives of the
handsome star refused to take rides in it.
Elizabeth Taylor gave the young movie star a kitten, but he gave the little cat away, saying, “I may go
out and not come back.” Did he know something might happen to him?
Despite all the warning signs, he still decided to race that Porsche.
On that fateful day, on a stretch of California highway, on September 30, 1955, he was driving to
where he was going to race his car when he was hit head on by another vehicle. A mechanic, also in the
car with James Dean, luckily survived with broken bones.
After this tragic wreck, George Barris bought the Porsche to sell its parts. After it was towed to his
shop, mechanics were unloading it from the truck and the Porsche fell off the truck, seriously injuring one of
Later, the engine was sold to a Beverly Hills physician, Dr. McHenry who also liked to race cars.
While he was driving a car with the Porsche’s engine in it, his car went out of control and hit a tree. He
was also killed. Coincidentally, another doctor, Dr. Eschrid, was driving a car that had the drive train of the
Porsche. His car rolled over. Fortunately he was injured but survived.
Another person purchased the tires that were on the Porsche. His car swerved off the road and both
tires blew out at the same time. George Barris checked out the tires but found no defect.
Later, the last remains of the car were to be sent on tour and put on display to discourage young
people from driving recklessly. While on tour, a fire somehow started in the garage where it was being
stored, destroying the garage and the building next to it. Everything was destroyed but the Porsche itself.
Barris still kept the vehicle, cleaning it up so it could go on tour again. Next the car was on display and fell
off the steel mounts it was on and injured a person who was standing close by, breaking his hip. Weeks
later, the car was on its way, on a truck, to another display. The Porsche fell off the truck, causing an
accident, which killed the truck driver.
Another time, the car fell onto the freeway, causing another accident. And yet another time, the cursed
vehicle was on another truck to be sent on its way to somewhere and the truck slipped its brakes, crashing
into a store. Once when the car was in New Orleans on display, it broke into pieces while on stationary
Finally, in 1960, the car was being shipped back from being on tour to George Barris by train, and
legend has it, the car mysteriously disappeared. Barris said, “There was never any clue to its
Where is this evil wreckage now? We do not know. But recently a man has come forward who claims
to know where this devilish junk car is, and claims that it was long ago hidden away by his father. This
man will not reveal where the car is, unless he receives a reward. Is he telling the truth? I don’t know, and I
don’t care, because I am going nowhere near that car!
And are there any more second hand parts from that car out there for sale? Let’s hope not!
Please drive carefully.
If you want to read on fictional cursed cars, check out Stephen King’s “Christine” or his “From a Buick
8.” A good movie to watch about a haunted car is “The Wraith.” Also check out “Maximum Overdrive,”
based on a story by Stephen King, “The Car,” about a possessed and homicidal black sedan, or
“Killdozer!” about a dozer with a very bad attitude.
But if you want to learn more about this real haunted car, the notorious Little Bastard, look for these
sources of information:
1. Barris, George, and Scagnetti, Jack, Cars of the Stars, Jonathan David Publishers, 1974.
2. Finkelman, Rob, “The Curse of the Little Bastard: James Dean Never Stood a Chance,” Street
Muscle Magazine, October, 2015.