Claim: Photographs show a rental car ruined by an American tourist (or a woman) who drove it over
Status: Real pictures; inaccurate description.
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, 2005]
Origins: Several common urban legends (such as the
(e.g., women, foreigners, the elderly) by portraying them as causing automotive mishaps through their lack of sophistication and unfamiliarity
with modern technology. The text and photos reproduced above are another entry in this
Versions circulated later in the year changed the villain from an American tourist to a generic woman.
(By way of explanation, we note that is it quite unusual to find rental car outfits in the U.S. offering vehicles with standard transmissions, but it is fairly common in other countries. Thus for purposes of local humor, an American tourist traveling in a foreign country could be presumed unfamiliar with anything other than an automatic transmission. However, it’s unlikely a motorist completely unfamiliar with the use of a standard transmission could manage to get a car so equipped out of the parking lot successfully, much less drive it over a hundred miles.)
Although the above-displayed photographs are real and do indeed depict a
in Budapest, Hungary, the damage shown was not caused by anyone’s (American, female, or otherwise) cluelessly driving it hundreds of kilometers in first gear. The motorist who rented the automobile had been driving it for several days when the Citroen’s engine block simply burst into flame and had to be extinguished by firefighters. The “dumb American” comments were possibly written by an employee of the Citroen service shop where the car was taken for repairs.
Last updated: 16 November 2005