Between 1920 and 1924 Count Louis Zborowski and his engineer Clive Gallop built four racing cars all powered by large 18 litre / 1000 cui + World War One aero engines designed for record attempts and racing primarily at Brooklands, the first car was timed at nearly 120 mph and the last in the hands of new owner Parry Thomas in excess of 170 mph in March 1927
Zborowski’s cars were named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang I – IV, Parry Thomas renamed the 27 litre / 1647 cui Liberty powered Chitty IV ‘Babs’ when he made his record attempts. The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang name is variously attributed to the sound of an idling aero engine or a bawdy song
Ian Flemming author of the James Bond books became familiar with Count Zborowski’s vehicles when he was invited to Zborowski’s former home Higham Park, where the cars were built, by Walter Wigham chairman of Robert Fleming & Co the investment bank founded by Ian’s Grandfather.
In the early 1960’s Ian used the legend of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the inspiration for a story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang The Magical Car, written for his son Casper that was published in three volumes in 1964 with illustrations by John Burningham.
Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story of the Paragon Panther a touring car that is restored by Commander Caractacus Pott before revealing the capacity to fly, over traffic jams and glide over water like a hover craft.
In 1968 a loose adaption of the plot was turned into a musical and filmed with Dick van Dyke playing Caractacus Potts and Sally Ann Howes playing his love interest Truly Scrumptious who never appeared in the books. You can see the trailer on this link.
In order to make the film the director Albert Broccoli asked Alan Mann to build six identical vehicles for the film of which today’s featured car is one. Apparently these Ford Zodiac V6 powered cars with automatic transmission were tested up to 100 mph before they were delivered and further modified for filming.
Thanks for joining me on “The Magical Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !