Sunday 15th May 2011
The original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang “hero” car, in a condition described as fully functional and road-going, was offered at auction by a California-based auction house. The car sold for $805,000, less than the $1–2 million it was expected to reach. It was purchased by New Zealand film director Sir Peter Jackson. The car weighs approximately 2 tons and measures 17 ½ feet in length and is powered by a Ford 3 litre V-6 engine mated to an automatic transmission. Chitty rolled out of the workshop in June 1967 and was registered with the number plate “GEN 11” given to her by Ian Fleming in his novel (“GEN 11” had significance in that if you read the number ones as “i’s”, it spelled out the Latin word “Genii” meaning magical person or being). Due to the outlandish capabilities of Chitty, the studio built other non-driving, versions for various stunts including the flying scenes and sea-faring chase. This hero “close-up” car was used in all of the road-driving sequences and is the only car to bear the legitimate “GEN 11” registration plates (the other versions all bore “GEN 11”, but this was purely cosmetic). Chitty has been owned and meticulously maintained by Pierre Picton since the early 1970s. Pierre first became involved with Chitty during filming in England in 1967-68 when he was responsible for maintaining the car during production and for some “double” driving sequences. When filming was completed, Pierre transported and cared for Chitty as she toured promoting the film; a few years later he acquired her from the production company.