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UFO-smacked car has been left untouched for nearly 40 years.
UFO-smacked car has been left untouched for over 40 years.

Car Smashed By UFO

Field review by the editors.

Warren, Minnesota

After midnight on August 27, 1979, on an empty two lane blacktop in northwest Minnesota, deputy sheriff Val Johnson saw an unusual bright light. Driving at 65 mph to reach it, the light suddenly zoomed head-on at Johnson's patrol car. As he later described it, "What was there, all of a sudden was here." He was blinded, heard the sound of breaking glass, and passed out.

Photo of the car on the night of the collision, as found by first responders.
Photo of the car on the night of the collision, as found by first responders.

When Johnson woke up nearly 40 minutes later, the car was stopped sideways, halfway off the road, having somehow driven itself almost a thousand feet. Inexplicably, the car's electric clock and Johnson's hand-wound wristwatch, which he always kept synced and on time, were both 14 minutes slow.

Johnson, it was later found, had burned retinas from exposure to extremely bright light. He also had no idea how the car had stopped, although it left 100 feet of skid marks.

A metal expert from Honeywell Labs examined the car's two weirdly-bent antennas and came away puzzled (The bending, he said, seemed to have been caused by high-velocity blasts of air). A perplexed expert from Ford Motor Co. wrote that the car's multiple windshield cracks were caused by unknown "inward and outward forces acting almost simultaneously." All of the damage to the car, from front to back, was within a straight line only one foot wide.

What cracked this windshield? Even a windshield expert couldn't say.
What cracked this windshield? Even a windshield expert couldn't say.

County officials wanted to fix the car and put it back on patrol. Instead, it was left untouched and displayed at the Marshall County Fair. The car proved to be so popular that sheriff Dennis Brekke donated it to the Settler's Square Historical Museum in Warren. It's been there ever since.

The copper-colored 1977 Ford LTD is an odd counterpoint to the typical county museum relics around it -- an old buggy, plow, washing machine, etc. -- but according to Kent Broten, president of the Historical Society, it's "definitely the number one attraction" at the museum.

Kent, who remembers the incident when it happened, said that the car's popularity has never sagged. "People come from all over," he said. "Some people lay on the floor and look underneath it. One time I saw a guy with a black light flashlight going over the car."

Kent said that over the years he's heard enough stories from locals to convince him that what happened to Johnson wasn't a hoax, but the idea that the car could harbor any undiscovered secrets at this point seems unlikely. Although the car isn't roped off, the museum prefers that its visitors look but don't touch.

"There's some people to this day who wonder why they don't fix it," Kent said of the car. "Other people, when they come, all they want to see is the car."

Headlight damage.

One person who apparently would rather not see it is former deputy sheriff Johnson. Kent said that Johnson has never visited the car, no longer lives in the area, and prefers to keep a low profile.

"Sometimes he'll talk about what happened," said Kent. "But for the most part he won't."

Also see: UFO - Car Impact Site

Car Smashed By UFO

Settler's Square Historical Museum

808 E. Johnson Ave., Warren, MN
Settler's Square Historical Museum. Northeast edge of town. From downtown Warren, turn east off of US Hwy 75 onto E. Johnson Ave. Drive until the pavement ends, then drive straight under the Fairgrounds arch. You'll see the museum complex on the right.
M-F 9-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Tin Farmer ManTin Farmer Man, Viking, MN - 16 mi.
Tiny Church - St. Joseph's ChapelTiny Church - St. Joseph's Chapel, Oslo, ND - 19 mi.
Fabulous Kegs Drive-InFabulous Kegs Drive-In, Grand Forks, ND - 23 mi.
In the region:
Muffler Man: Bunyan with Guitar, Karlstad, MN - 27 mi.

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