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The real Chitty Bang Bang.

Childhood memories are vivid of Dick Van Dyke (Caractacus Potts), Sally Ann Howes (Truly Scrumptious), Lionel Jeffries (grandad), Robert Helpmann (childcatcher) and Gert Frobe (The Baron) trying their best to upstage a flying car.

But did you know the story is based on a genuine 1921 racing car, as told in the short story at the beginning of the film?

The car comprised of a 75hp Mercedes chassis with an unbelievable 23 litre Maybech ex-zeppelin engine strapped up front!

This gave the car an incredible turn of speed making it a regular race winner around Europe including here in the U.K. at Brooklands famous banked race track. It used to thunder around the banked circuit at in excess of 100mph, occasionally in death defying fashion when mishaps were regular.

Claimed to have 600bhp by the press of the day it actually only had 305hp driven through a chain to the rear wheels.

It was owned by the colourful Count Zborowski who put together a formidable team of incredible pedigree.

The huge weight of the engine meant the car needed 7cwt of sand in the back to trim the beast and keep it in a straight line.

It was a dominant racing force in the post war years 1921-23, being crashed at one point and renamed Chitty Bang Bang 2. Even time handicaps (and sand in the boot) did little to prevent the car and brave driver from taking speed records and race wins.

Such was the car’s reputation it was still a regular race meet talking point two decades later.

Quite fitting then to think that it didn’t need to use its wings to win, just a flying lap😉

(Its amazing what you find inside the covers of vintage/antique books and publications, why not check out our current stock something for film, car and aircraft fans).


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