The film represented Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a turn-of-the-20th-century racing car with a winning streak that ended with a fiery crash at the 1909 British Grand Prix. The wrecked car was then purchased by the film’s main character, Caractacus Potts, and rebuilt in steampunk fashion for Pott’s family to adventure in. In reality, no less than six cars were fabricated to fulfill all of the film’s special effects. The primary car used for filming was a fully functional, road-legal vehicle with a modern (at the time) Ford V6 engine and automatic transmission. The car’s huge wood and metal body was a joint collaboration between U.K. boat builders and a local metalworking establishment.
Actor Dick van Dyke commented that the car was difficult to drive and maneuver because of its extra-long wheelbase. After filming was complete, the primary car was purchased by Pierre Picton, a local celebrity resident of Stratford-upon-Avon. For the next four decades, Picton regularly toured the car for viewing until 2011 when it was sold to Peter Jackson, director, writer, and producer of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies. Jackson exported the car Down Under to New Zealand, where it continues to make appearances for charity.
The other cars used in filming typically had specialized tasks such as a version that was easily trailered for close-up shots of the actors, a flying version, and a racing version of the car. Nearly all of those special-purpose cars have been preserved or restored and can be viewed in various automotive museums around the world, including the Hollywood Cars Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, Stahls Automotive Collection in New Baltimore, Michigan, and National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England.
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