- By Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Name is everything these days, isn't it?

4y ago

Modern companies have so many meetings for the sole purpose of choosing the name for their product that I can’t even imagine how many people have been bored to death during those. However, sometimes no amount of coffee or brain helps - Mitsubishi Lettuce and Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard are perfect examples.

However, there’s one name which really stands out of the crowd.

While writing an article about James Bond’s cars, I stumbled across other books by Ian Fleming. And while many of us have watched 007, not so many have read the actual books, and even less are aware of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

If you google it, the first page will be full of musical-related websites. However, Chitty Bang Bang is something more rather than just an on-stage performance.

First, the book. It’s a children’s novel which was written by Ian Flemming for his son. The main focus is the car - the almighty Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which was due for the scrapyard, but then, bought and restored by an eccentric inventor Caractacus Pott. As the story unfolds, the car reveals hitherto unsuspected talents, transforming into an aeroplane and tracking the gangsters.

But behind this fictional vehicle is, in fact, a real car. And not just any car, but a racing one. Built by an English automobile engineer and racing driver Count Zborowski in 1920s, Chitty Bang Bang was not one vehicle, but a series of cars built by Zborowski himself and an engineer Clive Gallop.

The first model, in essence, was a Mercedes chassis with a Maybach aero-engine. What started with four seats and a big exhaust was later refitted with two seats and a proper exhaust. The car could reach about 100 mph and in 1921 even won two races.
The second one had an 18.8-litre Benz Bz.IV aero-engine, but it has never been as successful as its predecessor.

Chitty 3 was based, again, on a Mercedes chassis. It was used by Zborowski as his personal transport.

Chitty 4 was the largest racing car ever to run at Brooklands. Also known as the Highham Special, it had a V12 Liberty aero engine and a chain-drive from a Blitzen Benz. Unfortunately, it was still not fully developed by the time of Zborowski’s death. Later in 1926, it was driven to a land speed record with a speed of 171 mph.

These racing cars with their eccentric name, which is still disputed, were a reflection of Count Zborowski. His father was killed in a racing accident. At the age of sixteen, he lost his mother. But this desire to follow his father’s footsteps brought him to engineering and building Chitty Bang Bang. Zborowki owned many cars and loved racing. After he joined Mercedes team, he was killed while participating in the Italian Grand Prix.

Ian Flemming found his inspiration after encountering a restored car of Zborowski. This children’s novel is rather more than just a funny story about the almighty car. In fact, it’s an example of how writers can build a plot around a car, giving it life - so amazing and captivating one - that we can’t put the book down.

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Comments (1)

  • Didn't knew that, at all.

      4 years ago