A Phantasmagorical Machine!
I grew up like many of you loving the great Children’s movie about a Marvelous magical car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang staring Dick Van Dyke As the crazy inventor Caractacus Potts, based on the Book by Ian Fleming. The man who brought us James Bond also wrote this children’s classic.
In the intro to his classic book he mentions the real Chitty Bang Bang, this famous Motor car was built and raced by an eccentric man named Count Louis Zborowski 1895-1924 a Polish, American, educated Britain.
After losing both of his Parents he was left with a huge £11 million pound inheritance that he would use towards his pursuit of speed.
He designed and built his racing cars using the most powerful and advanced engine of the day. Aeroplane engines! After World War 1, there was a surplus of these massive, high horsepower Aero engines and the Count knew just what to do with them.
His first racer dubbed Chitty Bang Bang 1 used a 23L or 1403cid, inline six-cylinder, 300 hp, 1500rpm, 911lbs, 6 footlone, Maybach Zeppelin airship engine! The massive Maybach was bolted into 1907 Mercedes chassis and linked to the very sturdy Benz chain Drive transmission.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, wasn’t just a silly name because of sound the engine made but was also paying homage to a song of the Royal Flying Corp referencing spending 'chits' on 'bang bang'.
Count Zborowski raced “Chitty” at the famous Brooklands track in 1921.
The beast of engine was so heavy it made the car too front heavy that the Count ran with almost 800lbs of sand ballast in the rear to combat the poor weight balance.
The Count and Chitty won the Brooklands event easily, running an average speed of just over 100 mph. Extremely fast for a machine in 1921. The team would go on to win many more races over the next 2 seasons. After a crash during Practice in September 1922 at Brooklands Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, would be rebuilt but sadly would not see the success it formerly had and would end up being sold dismantled in 1930.
There would be 3 Chitty’s but the others couldn’t hold a candle to the first with its massive 23L/1403cid inline Six. Chitty 2 was only a 18.9L/1153cid, straight 6 Benz aero engine and the quite pathetic Chitty 3 that ran a tiny 7.4/451cid, Benz racing engine, The count believe this engine to be inadequate and it was swapped for a larger 14.7L/893cid heart.
A fuel burning oracle
A phantasmagorical machine
It's more than spectacular
To use the vernacular
It's wizard, it's smashing, it's keen!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
My auto World