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Spooky Cursed Cars

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In our ongoing study of cursed cars for the Halloween season, we’re taking a trip back in time to the start of World War I. Anyone who has taken freshman world history in high school will remember that the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the catalyst for the start of the First World War. However, many may not recall the specifics of the event.

Ferdinand and his wife were riding in their cursed Gräf und Stift Double Phaeton when they were presented almost picture perfectly at a cafe with one of the only men left in Sarajevo who wanted them dead. Indeed, earlier that day, an attempt on Ferdinand’s life was made in a bombing attack on his motorcade, which destroyed almost every vehicleexceptfor Ferdinand’s. As result, all but one of the student anarchist separatists were rounded up and imprisoned. The lone outlaw, young Gavrilo Princip, was walking down a side street to a cafe near the hospital where the Archduke’s men were being treated. The drive of the Gräf und Stift limo was unfamiliar with the area and made a wrong turn down the narrow street where Princip was walking, nearly running him over.

Earlier that day, Princip had a clear shot at Ferdinand but either the gun failed or the gunman failed to pull the trigger. This time, however, he would not be thwarted. Princip admitted that he had actually turned his head away in anguish as he fired at Ferdinand, but it was a lucky shot. The bullet passed through the Archduke’s neck, severing his jugular, while a second bullet pierced the skull of his wife, killing her instantly.

Many theories abound to the curse on the Archduke and his limo. Some scholars believe that Ferdinand’s bloodlust on his frequent hunting escapades (he recorded more than 270,000 kills) had finally caught up him. Only a few days before, he had killed a white stag, which was widely considered to be a sacred animal whose death would bring misery on anyone who killed one. The Archduke himself was so concerned about the event that he told friends and family that he would certainly be dead within a few days.

To compound that, the Double Phaeton was painted a deep blood red at Ferdinand’s behest to strike fear in the hearts of his detractors, and after all, it has been said that the energy one puts out into the world is the same energy that comes back to them.

Now here is where the story gets truly interesting. It has been reported, though not necessarily reliably, that the next 13 owners of the vehicle - that’s right, 13 - died in horrible accidents that would have made excellent fodder for an historicFinal Destinationfilm, according toSmithsonian Magazine. The author of these stories was an early 20th-century tabloid writer named Frank Edwards, whoseStranger than Sciencestories were often based in reality but notorious for the used of exaggeration and florid language. For more information on that, see the link below.

Archduke Francis Ferdinand’s Gräf und Stift Double Phaeton was indeed the World War I equivalent to James Dean’s cursed Porsche Spyder. Stay tuned, dear readers, for next weeks final Halloween cursed car, and thank you for joining us for this spooky Halloween edition of the Cocomats blog!

-Trey Fennell



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