Wednesday 12th August 1964
Jarrolds, the printers, dispatched the first advance copies of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, the Magical Car. Ian Fleming (56), died in hospital in Canterbury, having been taken ill at the Royal St George’s Golf Club the previous day. He never saw the finished book. Four years later, Cubby Broccoli produced the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, starring Dick van Dyke. Among the cast were Desmond Llewelyn (the long-serving Q in the Bond films) and Gert Frobe (Goldfinger). Though the film was based on Fleming’s creation, Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay and added new elements: the child-catcher for instance and Truly Scrumptious. Sir Ken Adam produced a superb design of the flying car.
One of the reviews of the book had noted the skilful blending of fact and fiction. Fleming would always superimpose his creative imagination on to true events and real objects. There is more of the Bond oeuvre rooted in reality than is generally realised. And so it was with Chitty. He dedicated the book to a real car: ‘To the memory of the original Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, built in 1920 by Count Zborowksi on his estate near Canterbury.’