August 23, 1922 – Chitty Bang Bang wins the speed carnival

On this day in 1922 Chitty Bang Bang won the Southsea Speed Carnival in England. The vehicle was built and driven by Count Louis Zborowski with help from his engineer Clive Gallop. Zborowski reached 73.1 MPH during the race in his chain driven, customized Mercedes that featured a 23-litre 6-cylinder Maybach aero-engine. This was the first car known as Chitty Bang Bang, three more would be built by Zborowski and Gallop at Zborowski’s home near Canterbury, Kent. These cars would later inspire a book, movie and musical all by the name of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” The Chitty 1 debuted at Brooklands in 1921 where it took second place and hit a top speed of 100.75 MPH with a four seater body. It was quickly refitted with a two seat configuration and received an upgraded exhaust system, propelling it to a top speed of more than 120 MPH. After the original Chitty was sold off for parts Chitty 2 was created and featured an 18.8L Benz aero engine. That car was not as successful as the first and is now part of the private collection of Bob Bahre at his home in Paris Hill, Maine where he resides in the former mansion of Hannibal Hamlin, Abe Lincoln’s first Vice-President. Chitty 3 was based on a modified Mercedes chassis with a 160 hp Mercedes single-overhead-camshaft six-cylinder aero engine that produced 180 horsepower. Zborowski used it as his personal transport. The final Chitty, Chitty 4, aka Higham Special featured a 27 liter, 450 hp Liberty v12 aero engine. After Zborowski’s death in 1924 it ended up in the hands of one J.G. Parry-Thomas who renamed it Babs and would later set a land speed record of 171.02 mph in April 1926 after some retrofitting. He went for a new record in March of the next year and was killed in his attempt due to an accident. The car was buried, but later recovered and restored. Count Zborowski with Chitty Bang Bang 1 at BrooklandsRestored Chitty 4, AKA, Babs – By edvvc from London, UK – Thomas Special ‘Babs’, CC BY 2.0,

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