April 26, 2011, 4:44 PM — Two vitally important bits of trivia about the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of the most cheerfully pointless movies ever made:
First: The book behind the movie was written by Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond stories after becoming obsessed with guns, gambling and slinky femmes fatale with highly suggestive last names. (I'm sure everyone else knew this, but I just found out, so it's still cool to me.)
Second: Chitty herself is up for sale.
Stretching the meaning of its "Hardware" section The Register reported today that the original, mirror-polished aluminum-bonnetted, red-cedar-planked, brass-fitted original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is for sale on British Columbia-based auction site iCollector.com.
It's as shiny as the day it was designed as a real, working automobile built by Ford racing team engineers and mechanics to be able to do its own stunt driving, powered by a 3 liter V-6 engine and automatic transmission. Non-driving versions were used for closeups, flying and other scenes. This one was used in sequences showing Chitty driving over roads, flights of stairs and Vulgarians.
It's 17 1/2 feet long, weighs two tons and carries both the original GEN 11 license plate (Genii) Fleming gave it in the book to show who was really doing the stunt driving and the original dashboard, taken from a World War I British fighter plane.
And it won't come cheap. Starting bid is $1 million. It will probably sell for about $2 million, according to the auction site (which sells art and collector's items but is owned, oddly enough, by SinoCoking, a Chinese company that specializes in mining, washing and processing coal into coke).
Anyone who saw Dick Van Dyke's portrayal as Caractacus Potts as a career goal rather than a warning about going around with your head in the clouds can justify serious interest, though possibly not $1 million for something you wouldn't want as an everyday driver.