30 May 2013

Taking Inspiration and Making It Chittier

From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography comes this life of Louis Vorow Zborowski, a racing-car maker and driver active in Britain in the early 1900s.

Zborowski provided the inspiration for one children’s adventure novel with his post-World War I application of aeronautic technology to automobiles:
The end of the war led to the ready availability of large capacity aero engines, exactly the type Zborowski needed to build his own racing cars in the stables at Higham Park. . . . The first car, powered by a 23 litre 6 cylinder Maybach aero engine used in Zeppelin airships, and fitted with an angular body made by Blighs, was christened Chitty-Bang-Bang. A second car, Chitty-Bang-Bang II, was powered by an 18.9 litre Benz aero engine. . . .

Chitty-Bang-Bang was driven up from Kent on trade plates to make a winning début at the opening meeting of the Brooklands season in March 1921, attracting much attention as the ‘mystery’ car (The Times, 29 March 1921). . . . The novelist Ian Fleming, who had seen Zborowski’s car at Brooklands in the early 1920s, and who was later a visitor to Higham Park, used elements of it in his children’s fantasy Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (1964–5).
Both Zobrowski and his father died in racing-car accidents.

No comments: