Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the vintage racing car which features in the book, musical film and stage production of the same name. Writer Ian Fleming took his inspiration for the car from a series of aero-engined racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski in the early 1920s, christened "Chitty Bang Bang". Six versions of the car were built for the film and a number of replicas have subsequently been produced. The version built for the stage production holds the record for the most expensive stage prop ever used.
For the 1968 film, six cars were created, including a fully functional road-going car with UK registration GEN 11. This car was designed by the film's production designer, Ken Adam, and cartoonist and sculptor Frederick Rowland Emett, built by Alan Mann Racing in Hertfordshire in 1967, fitted with a Ford 3000 V6 engine and automatic transmission and allocated a genuine UK registration. This car was privately owned by Pierre Picton of Stratford-upon-Avon from the early 1970s until May 2011. Actor Dick van Dyke, who drove the car in the film, said that "the car was a little difficult to maneuver, with the turning radius of a battleship". Public appearances of the car in 2010 are listed on the GEN 11 official website, with a note that there will be no more as the car was sent to Los Angeles, USA, to be auctioned on 22 May 2011, where it was expected to fetch US$1-2m, but sold for $805,000 (£495,415) to the New Zealand film director Sir Peter Jackson, who according to his spokesperson said he would use it as a charity fund-raising vehicle. It is registered in New Zealand as GEN 1I, as the registration GEN 11 had already been issued.
Five other car props were built by the studio: a second, smaller road-going version; a transforming car; a hover-car; a flying car; and an engineless version for trailer work. Most had engines added after filming was complete and were used to promote the film throughout the world.
The second road version, which only appears in 12 seconds of the movie, is on display at the Dezer Car Museum in North Miami, Florida. There were construction flaws on this vehicle which made its use impractical. Eon Productions made a less-detailed transforming version which they use to promote the stage musical but, as it does not have an MOT certificate (of roadworthiness), is not allowed on public roads. The final road version is privately owned by Anthony Bamford, and is on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, UK. The hover-car was a shell mounted on a speed boat, and was destroyed after filming. Only the original road-going version used the registration GEN 11 legitimately and it was owned by Pierre Picton of Stratford upon Avon. One of the cars used in the film was displayed at a Chicago restaurant for many years, then sold at auction in 2007 for $505,000 to a Florida resident.
One car appeared in a humorous Public information film aimed at British motorists, intended to remind them to pay their Vehicle excise duty. Ironically, there was criticism as all cars built before 1 January 1973, including the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang model, are exempt from vehicle excise duty in the UK, though they have to display a tax disc showing the exemption. The PIF was a parody of the MGM film.
In July 2009, the EON copy of the car was prevented from being used in Norwich by the police, as the car was not roadworthy, properly registered or insured. The GEN 11, Pierre Picton car subsequently visited the city of Norwich in August 2009 to promote the theatre show.
There is a MGM licensed replica in the United Kingdom, built for a commercial photography business. The car is roadworthy and has the registration number GEN 22. It weighs around 1.5 tons and is nearly 18 feet long and 6 feet wide. The brass lamps are all original period pieces and the brass snake horn came from one of the original Chitty cars. The engine is a 3L V6 Ford with a BorgWarner automatic gearbox. The car is displayed at events and in shopping centres.
Another Chitty 'copy' was built by Nick Pointing of the Isle of Wight after his wife Carolyn, a lifelong Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fan asked him to build her her dream car. The car was built on a 1970's Land Rover chassis and engine and was driven 12,000 miles overland to Australia in 2007/8 to raise money for charity.
A replica Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car built by Gordon Grant was sold at an auction held on 1 December 2011 at Bonhams at Mercedes Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. The car was later sold to Broadcaster, Chris Evans after the purchaser found it was too long to fit in his garage. The car, which is now registered as 772 YUJ, has erroneously been reported in a number of newspapers as the original GEN 11 film car.
Stage production car:
Another version of the car, built for the British stage production of the story, debuted at The London Palladium In 2002. Built at a cost of £750,000, the car is listed in Guinness World Records as the most expensive stage prop ever.