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Original 'Chitty' fails to break the $1m mark at auction

18-May-2011 • Collecting

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, said to be the only drivable example of the Chitty cars built for the 1968 movie, sold at auction this past weekend for $805,000 — far less than the $1-$2 million it was expected to command.

Nancy Seltzer, a spokeswoman for auction house Profiles in History, told Inside Line on Tuesday that there was a reserve on the car — which she would not disclose — and that the owner reduced it.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the auction's signature item and one of the most famous movie cars ever built. The run-up to the auction commanded lots of media attention, including a mention in People magazine, which said "who needs a time-traveling DeLorean when you can own Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?"

The Hollywood Reporter noted that a number of other pieces in the May 14-15 auction, including the crystal ball the Wicked Witch used to observe Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, went for more than their initial estimates. The crystal ball sold for $126,500, more than double the presale estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was described by auctioneers as "The Most Famous Car in the World." But in reality, it was basically a movie prop cobbled together with such parts as a 1960s Ford drivetrain and period pieces, including an alloy dashboard plate from a British World War I fighter plane. Nondriving versions of the car were built for the movie's flying sequences.

The hit musical movie was based on James Bond author Ian Fleming's novel.

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