History, book, film, facts and fun

All things you need to know about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 film originally written by James Bond author Ian Fleming, His novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car was written for his son Casper. The film’s script was adapted by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes and music and songs by the Sherman Brothers. The film stars Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious, Lionel Jeffries as Grandpa Potts, James Robertson Justice as Lord Scrumptious and Robert Helpmann as the evil Childcatcher. The film was directed by Ken Hughes and produced by Albert R.Broccoli who was also the co-producer of the James Bond series of films, also based on Fleming’s books.

Real chitty bang bang
The real chitty bang bang

 

The original car

Above is a lovely old photo of the real Chitty Bang Bang, with only one Chitty as it was original known. Chitty is photographed with the racing car’s mechanic behind the wheel. The owner was Count Louis Zborowski from Higham in Kent England. I delivered a talk to the Isle of Wights Model Engineers Society on the building of my Chitty and I was given this photo by George Dexter, the son of the Counts Skipper. As a yachtsman George Dexter senior was privileged to an insight to the counts racing lifestyle. The photo was taken on Southport Sands in 1927/1928. The car had a massive 23 litre ex-zeppelin mercedes Benz aero engine.

The Ford racing team headed by Alan Mann built CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

The final product weighed approximately 2 tons, was 17 feet long, and built on a custom made ladder frame chassis. No detail was spared in her creation. Many traditional forms of car-building were re-employed and modern technology stepped in to create a vehicle which was both accurate enough to fool veteran car experts. When under the microscope of 70mm, cinema cameras were hard-wearing enough to withstand everything from driving in sand to driving on cobbled streets and down staircases.
The wheels were moulded in alloy to replicate the timber wheels which would have been true to the period. The boat deck was of red and white cedar and built by boat-builders in Windsor, and the array of brass fittings were obtained from Edwardian wrecks. Chitty rolled out of the workshop in June 1967 and was registered with the number plate GEN 11 given to her by Ian Fleming in his novel.   
In the book, the number plate GEN11 had significance in that if you read the number ones as ” i’s “, it spelled out the latin word “genii” meaning magical person or being.