Roger Scarberrry's Black 1957 Chevrolet is the car that was supposedly chased by the Mothman at speeds of over 100mph on November 15th 1966. It is the vehicle that acted as the barrier between the witnesses and the creature. The Scarberry and Mallettes are said to have seen the Mothman through the windows of this car. The '57 Chevy is often mentioned in tellings of the Mothman folklore.
The TNT Area was a local hangout spot and was also used for drag racing and showing off cars. It's well known that Roger Scarberry was very found of his car. He'd probably taken it down there several times before. He's said to have been a very skillful driver and that must've come in handy when fleeing from a flying monster at greats speeds.
Mothman Museum curator Jeff Wamsley said that when he was young he saw Roger working on the car. The '57 Chevy was even said to have scratch marks on it from the Mothman encounter. It has become an iconic and important part of the legend. Knowing what car the teens were driving allows the reader to paint a more vivid image in their mind of the chase sequence.
The car is all over the Mothman iconography. It's on posters, books, comics, t-shirts and all other kinds of Mothman art. Documentaries and TV shows often do re-enactments of the sighting featuring a '57 Chevy. There's even a miniature model of the car on display at The Mothman Museum.
Newspaper print in 1966 mostly focused on the monster report itself as the most interesting and important part. At first, little to no details were reported about the kind of car they were driving at the time. In the Scarberry and Mallette police reports, the witnesses simply refer to it as a car and never mention the specific model.
Strange Creatures From Time And Space by John Keel was released in 1970, it featured a chapter on Mothman. On Chapter 18, page 214 it reads "Roger stepped on the gas pedal of his souped-up jalopy and headed out of the TNT Area". The exact kind of car is still not yet mentioned.
The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel was released in 1975. On Chapter 6, Page 76 it reads "Mr. and Mrs. Roger Scarberry and Mr. and Mrs. Steve Mallette, were driving through the TNT area in the Scarberrys' 1957 Chevy." This was perhaps the earliest passage to draw attention to the car model. It soon became a favored detail when telling the legend.
Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley and Donnie Sergent,Jr. was released in 2002. On page 161 it reads "Linda told us the wingspan was so large that the wings were hitting the side of the doors on the car as they sped down the highway. Later that night they discovered the paint scratched away on the side door panels of the black 1957 Chevy." This seems to be the first mention of the car's color as well as the detail of the car being scratched during the sightings. The information comes straight from the local authors and witness Linda Scarberry.
Also in 2002, Mothman and Other Curious Encounters by Loren Coleman was released. On Chapter 3, Page 40 it reads "Roger slammed on the gas and tried to maneuver his '57 Chevy". The detail continues to be repeated as noteworthy.
The Search For The Mothman Documentary from 2002 doesn't mention the specifics of the car but on screen it displays a reenactment of the chase sequence using a '57 Chevy, although it is painted the wrong color.
In 2005, Mothman... Behind The Red Eyes by Jeff Wamsley was released. Page 44 displays an image of the back of the '57 Chevy with Roger Scarberry standing by it. His leg is propped up, covering the license plate. The car is indeed painted black and there is a white stripe along it ending down into the bumper. The caption reads "One of the few photos in existence of the black '57 Chevy that the two couples rode in on Tuesday, November 15, 1966". The photo is also on display in The Mothman Museum.
Eyes of The Mothman was released in 2011. In the documentary, a Point Pleasant local named Dennis Bellamy is interviewed and says "Roger Scarberry had a beautiful hot rod and if you'd of scratched his car he would've killed ya. So, some of my friends reminded me later that he had some scratches on his car and they believed him because they knew that if it'd been just a local person they would have been a death that night". The film's reenactment of the Scarberry and Mallette sighting features a '57 Chevy but it is once again painted the wrong color.
Monster of West Virginia by Rosemary Ellen Guiley was released in 2012. Chapter 3 Page 34 reads "Roger was driving his 1957 Chevrolet." It has now become a trend, the detail is not to be left out.
In his 2013 book, The Tale of The Mason County Mothman, George Dudding wrote on Page 29 "they were riding in a 1957 Chevrolet possibly powered by a 265 cubic inch or 283 cubic inch v-8 engine, driven by Roger Scarberry." then on Page 30 he put "With Roger Scarberry at the wheel and with tires spinning, the 1957 Chevy was skillfully back out into the narrow side road." George was seemingly fascinated enough by the vehicle to speculate on it's motor. He then specifically noted Roger's driving skills and made mention to the '57 Chevy several more times as he poetically told the tale.
The 2017 Mothman of Point Pleasant documentary features an interview segment of Jeff Wamsley in which he says "They had been up there riding around, showing off their car that- Roger had a '57 Chevy Bel Air" This description reveals that showing off the car was partly the reason they were up there. The graphical depiction on screen shows a black '57 Chevy being chased by the Mothman, making it perhaps the first documentary to use the accurate color paint.
A big detail associated with Roger's '57 Chevy is the incredible speed they were driving to escape the Mothman in the legend. The Mothman is said to be able to fly over 100 mph because of the speed at which the teens were driving the car when they got to a straight stretch of road. This is an extremely prevalent detail in the folklore, almost always repeated when telling the story or describing Mothman's flight ability.
- 1966 (Point Pleasant Register - Couples See Man-Sized Bird...Creature...Something): The creature was seen standing on three occasions and was described as being extremely fast ('It flew about 100 miles an hour') in flight but was a clumsey runner.
- 1966 (Morgantown Dominion News - Four Pt. Pleasant Car Occupants See 'Bird-Like Creature'): "traveled at high speeds, 'at about 100 miles an hour.' Mallette added"
- 1966 (The Athens Messenger - Monster No Joke For Those Who Saw It): "The first night it chased their car at speeds up to 100, gliding above and behind the vehicle."
- 1966 (Newsprint - Couples Say They Saw 6-Ft. 100-mph ‘Bird'): "traveled at high speeds, 'at about 100 mph.' Mallette added"
- 1966 (Linda Scarberry's Police Report): "We were going between 100 and 105 mph down that straight stretch and that thing was just gliding back and forth over the back end of the car."
- 1966 (Roger Scarberry's Police Report): "I speeded up to 100 mph and it glided over the car"
- 1966 (Mary Mallette's Police Report): "as we speeded down the road on the straight stretch at a speed of 100 or 105 mph the thing glided over top of our car back and forth"
- 1970 (Strange Creatures From Time And Space by Keel - Chapter 18, Page 214): "'We were doing better than a hundred miles per hour,' Roger claimed"
- 1975 (The Mothman Prophecies by Keel - Chapter 6, Page 77): "'We were doing one hundred miles an hour,' Roger said, 'and that bird kept right up with us"
- 2002 (Mothman: The Facts Behind The Legend by Jeff Wamsley - Page 161): "they witnessed the creature fly straight up into the air and then begin to follow the car as they drove"
- 2002 (Mothman And Other Curious Encounters By Loren Coleman Chapter 3, Page 40): "'We were driving one hundred miles per hour,' Roger later told investigators"
- 2002 (Search For The Mothman Documentary): Loren Coleman says in his interview section "they get scared and they want to get out of there and all of sudden they're taking off, they're going anywhere from 100 to 120 miles an hour".
- 2011 (Eyes of The Mothman Documentary): Artist Chad Lambert says "these couples were driving a hundred plus miles an hour".
- 2012 (Monsters of West Virginia by Rosemary Ellen Guiley - Chapter 3, Page 35): "Roger pressed the gas pedal down harder and harder until they were flying along Route 62 at 100 to 105 miles per hour. The Creature effortlessly kept up, banging down on the roof of the car two or three times as they fled"
- 2013 (The Tale of The Mason County Mothman by George Dudding - Page 30): "The flying creature was able to keep up with them as the powerful 1957 Chevy reached speeds near 100 miles per hour!"
- 2017 (The Mothman of Point Pleasant Documentary): Jeff Wamsley in an interview section said "They were doing 90, 95 miles an hour down the straight stretch". George Dudding then said "they said that they reached a hundred mile an hour in their car."
Visibility / Logistics
We know the Roger Scarberry was driving the car, based on this we may be able to figure out the position of the other three occupants. The model of car they were in can tell us things about their visibility out through the windshield, back-glass and windows. Based on there seat placement we might be able to figure out things about what each person could see.
Finding The Car
According to Jeff Wasmley, Linda either sold the '57 Chevy or did something with it after the divorce. Where it is now is still a mystery. It is essentially the holy grail of the Mothman legend.
One way to find the car would be through the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN would be physically on the car but we have no known photos of the number. A VIN can also be found on any of the following documentation:
- Vehicle Title (We would have no access to this, the latest owner would probably have it)
- Registration Card (We would have no access to this, the latest owner would probably have it)
- Owner's Manual (We would have no access to this, the latest owner would probably have it)
- Insurance Documents (Unknown location)
- Body Shop Repair Records (Unknown location)
- Vehicle History Report or VIN check (Unknown location)
- Police Reports (Possibly publicly accessible? Police reports were filed of the Mothman case. Also maybe other minor reports such as speeding at one point or something?)