The torrential sheets of rain came down as the asphalt looked more like an oil slick than a rough used surface just when a powerful 1969 SS Chevelle, black on black, and what wasn’t black was chrome suddenly appeared out of darkness. The car, from the glorious days of the American Muscle forever gone, is gleaming in the streetlights as the rain is easily repelled.
All the windows of this intimidating vision to include the front and back which is illegal are so dark it makes it impossible to even see the driver behind the wheel.
The sound of a 396 big block that is nothing less than a perfectly machined balanced engine with an oversized cam gave this car a powerful growl through the twin exhaust out the back under the chrome rear bumper. The crowing jewel of this ominous vehicle is the blower assembly towering over the hood and the powerful engine below.
Anyone that is into cars, especially, the old muscle car days could easily see that nothing was left to chance when this car was built from the ground up with aftermarket and post production modifications going well passed the engine and other obvious changes. The suspension from front to back is highly modified to compensate for the world of high-speed that escaped the minds of Chevrolet. Not missing any details, the SS Cragar chromed rims and matching spinners sporting the very best in street racing tires.
The only sound that is louder of the car’s deep throating rumbling engine is the band known as, AC/DC’s playing the immortal album of 1980, “Back In Black” and how fitting adding to the dark ambiance of the weather. The song, “Giving The Dog A Bone” blaring through a very expensive sound system and a couple of Bass Cannons in the trunk for good measure.
The light turns green and the car rumbles off slowly since it owns an otherwise empty street.
Who would be out in this weather?
Who would be out this late at night?
Is this car, the driver spoiling for some kind of confrontation, or perhaps, a race?
The car begins to pick up some speed just by a mere crack of the throttle as the car goes from 35 miles per hour to 75 in just a couple of seconds hitting the on-ramp leading to north on Interstate 5.
Still, there is no traffic to speak of as the car hits 90 without breaking a sweat in doing so. Medford lies beneath the huge overpass as the car is nearly a blur in the rain creating its own turbulence coiling behind leading to a rooster tail of water it kicks up that would make it impossible to even see the license plate or the shape of the vehicle from someone, anyone behind the car.
There is no other vehicle on either the northbound or southbound lanes as far at the eye can see on this overpass. Though, the driver of this magnificent beast seems to know something that the simple observer cannot fathom to hazard a guess.
Like a menacing ghost, the car passes the Crater Lake Highway exchange heading northbound. The car hits over 100 miles per hour as it leaves the rainstorm giving way to a much dryer surface as the driver engages the blower causing the beast of the SS Chevelle to raise its front wheels barely off the ground and howling like a demon under the lash.
Now well over 140 miles per hour, the black monster of mechanical rage passes a semi tractor-trailer and in less than 100 yards in front of the semi in the slow lane is an Oregon State Patrol car like that of the truck before seemed to be standing still in comparison. The driver of the SS Chevelle didn’t even bother to slow down at all.
The vehicle blaring the title song “Back In Black” as the red and blues from the Highway Patrol’s Dodge Charger Hellcat now giving chase as the SS Chevelle seemed to slow down just enough so that the State Patrolman could catch up a bit before the dark specter of the car would begin to leave Mopar’s best in the wake.
Now at 160 miles per hour, the state police car can’t keep up requesting assistance as the officer watched the car go beyond his view as a helicopter belonging to the Oregon State Patrol whizzed over the screaming flashing lights of the wailing Dodge Charger and heading up to the SS Chevelle.
The copter gaining slowly on the SS Chevelle begins closing in enough as the pilot and co-pilot realizing that the chopper is practically at its top end speed by the control panel lighting up with warnings.
The chopper’s high-powered headlamp catches the license plate, make and model with the haunting plate of “Satan 666” on the Oregon Plate, customized, of course, in the fleeting glimpse. The car is seemingly toying with the helicopter only for a few moments longer before it leaves the gaping mouths in the cockpit behind at just over 200 miles per hour. The helicopter pulls back, it cannot keep up as, “Have A Drink On Me” is playing.
Traffic on the State Patrol’s radio is becoming heavier as more cars far ahead set up an ambush. Already, this car managed to outrun two failed attempts by the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office in coordination with the Oregon State Police. The car just passed up these locations before the authorities could accomplish their plans.
The across the unrelenting State Trooper’s radio, Dispatch reads back the information obtained by the previous helicopter. The information from dispatch comes breaking through, “The car, a 1969 SS Chevelle, Oregon Plates, ‘Satan 666’ was registered to a James David Taylor of 1151 Justice Road, Central Point, Oregon.”
The officer in the black dodge radioed back, “I’m sticking with it, dispatch. Shit, it must be in Grants Pass by now. It can’t travel at that rate of speed forever and who is the car registered to again?”
The cruiser traveling at 165 miles per hour close of redlining his own engine and weary not to do so. Already the engine temperature is hitting the dangerous level of overheating.
Dispatch answers back. “The owner has been dead for nearly three decades ago. The car shows no new owner since the car was destroyed on Highway 101 near Coos Bay back in 1981.”
“No how in the hell do you know all of this, dispatch?” The officer nearly yelling back over the top of his winding engine.
“Because, that car, make and model, and license plate belonged to my brother. That’s how I know. And I know something else too, Roseburg police and two state police officers are waiting for a car that will never come to them. You’ll see…” That’s all dispatched said in her nervously frighten voice.
The small prickling hairs on the back of the state patrolmen’s neck stood up as he was closing in on Grants Pass just a few miles south of Roseburg. As the dark, Dodge Charger passed over the town below. The State Trooper, he could see the black SS Chevelle just fade into the whirling foggy mist.
“Thought so…” The Officer said with a grimacing smile.
“Can’t keep going at those speeds in this weather. Now, you’re all fucking mine, asshole!”
The officer slowed his car down extremely quick to avoid hitting the SS Chevelle somewhere in front of him in this blinding fog. In moments later the Trooper’s car made it safely through the other side of the foggy mist. To the Trooper’s amazement, there were only red and blues flashing and coming to him in the opposing direction from the north. He quickly scanned the entire horizon of his windshield and could not see the enigmatic car, the 1969 SS Chevelle.
Then the Trooper stopped his vehicle in the northbound lane and opened up his door to step out with his flashlight as the others were safely coming upon him. It is now almost dawn. With all the lights, hazard lamps and the red and blue lights lit up the entire area right around the Trooper as he even walked to the shoulder of the road thinking that the car in pursuit went off into the dark woods below. There is no sign of anything that would give him a logical explanation as the whereabouts of this mysterious car.
The Trooper glanced back at the fog but it was gone as it appeared simply out of nowhere. His eyes widen at the suddenness of it all. His mind is telling him, ‘Fucking cars just don’t disappear into thin air.’
As the mist and heavy fog vanished like a hand over all them below, the Trooper could see it was not some natural form of fog as he could see the stars above him under a clear night’s sky. There are no other patches of fog anywhere in his sight.
The Trooper scurried behind his car where the fog and mist would have been moments earlier. The pavement completely dry and void of any skid marks leading to heavy breaking or a loss of control. There was nothing but blank dry asphalt.
A combination of adrenaline of a high-speed chase and the ever-growing distinction of chasing a phantom car gave him more than enough cause for his uncontrollable trembling.
‘This isn’t happening. there’s got to be some explanation?’ he thought to himself as he turned to face the slow-moving police cars approaching. The Trooper headed back to his car so he could be safely seen by the oncoming police traffic.
There, somewhere in the slight breeze, the officer standing there could barely hear the chilling bells from, “Hells Bells” from that very same album but could not place the direction and the source only as the sound faded away leaving him totally alone just before others would join in his bewilderment in a few more seconds as the horizon in the east is turning from black to a beautiful dark blue.
A single helicopter is now heard off in the distance surveying the entire area and reporting nothing in sight as the pilot’s voice cracks across the Trooper’s radio.
By now all the other local and state police came up to the Trooper’s car, they all shared in the same puzzling and perplexing look. The inside camera of one of the Oregon State Trooper’s showed only one set of headlights leaving the mist and fog belonging to the northbound Trooper who gave an unrelenting chase. There as they all shared their videos, all showing the very same thing; an otherwise empty northbound dual lane with only one car breaking through the vanishing fog as if a large invisible hand pulled it straight up and out of sight ever so quickly.
The Trooper understandably mystified as others around him were as well. Some of the officers heard the winding powerful engine coming to them off in the distance, and like the fog and mist, the sound suddenly faded away as if that patch of fog and mist that not only concealed the phantom car, but in some way, took the car with it.
“It’s like we all were waiting for a ghost that never came.” One of the Grants Pass policeman said as all eyes turned to the veteran sergeant as he himself looked southbound.
“I heard of a yarn when I was a child living in Coos Bay about a hellish accident along the coast of an illegal street race. No one survived. Two cars, a 1969 SS Chevelle and a 1969 Shelby GT 500 Mustang…” All remained quiet as the stone granite faced policeman continued.
“I didn’t want to believe it. My dad was acting Sheriff there and was one of the first to be at the fatal scene. Then about a year to the day, the SS Chevelle would show up. People would speak of seeing it creeping… Prowling through town. No one ever mentioned seeing the driver because the sighting was always at night and you can’t see shit through the dark tinted windows. Shit, I don’t think we were ever meant to see through it all anyhow.”
“So you believe in this phantom car legend, then?” Another Trooper asked the local cop standing there in a half-circle around the Trooper’s car.
“Gentlemen, you have heard what you heard. For others, you’ve seen what you’ve seen and captured both on the various car and copter videos. With that, I leave you up to drawing your own conclusions but, I will say there is an afterlife, and a world beyond this one. Nevertheless, this phantom, this specter of a car has been seen as far east as Bend, and as far north as Portland, let alone the entire length of Highway 101 along our coast.” The officer then got into his car leaving everyone else still standing in awe under a cloud of more questions than answers as the sergeant drove quietly back to town.
The next day there wasn’t any mention in the Medford Mail Tribune of the Highway Patrol’s car chase or any mention of the phantom SS Chevelle oddly enough. Everyone involved were sworn to secrecy. Besides, who would possibly believe them?
It would later be a plain fact that all who were involved in this chase this evening would ever see that phantasm of a car again…
For my brother, James David Taylor
July 16, 1965 – June 7, 1986, RIP