The Citroen Picasso was seen with lit oil dripping from beneath it shortly before becoming engulfed in flames on Orsett Road.
Eyewitness Luke Tredwell, who took these pictures, was sat at the war memorial at the top of Grays High Street with friends Rebecca and Elizabeth Cook - who called the fire brigade - when they saw the car go up in flames at around 1pm today.
The vehicle had come to a halt outside the Thameside Theatre complex in Orsett, just before the one way system and road's junction with Derby Road, when it caught light.
Two people, thought to be a woman and an elderly man, escaped the burning vehicle.
Luke, 24, said: "Oil was dripping from underneath the front of the car. It looked like it was igniting as it did so, the flames quickly spread."
The smouldering car after firefighters put out the last of the flames.
Elizabeth, 23, added: "There was a really loud bang, which we think was the tyres. It was quite scary. Everyone was being kept clear."
One fire crew from Grays attended and had the blaze out within 15 minutes. No one was reported trapped or injured.
It is not yet known how the fire started.
The road has reopened after it was closed in both directions while fire crews put out the blaze and the vehicle was recovered. Police also attended the scene.
See below for a video of the car alight and listen as the car's tyre explodes.
WARNING: Video contains some strong language which viewers may find offensive
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