1921 Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang

Count Louis Zborowski was a Polish nobleman and sportsman who lived in England during the first quarter of the twentieth century. His most lasting automotive legacy was four aero-engined high-performance hybrids, called “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bangs.” The cars were constructed with the help of Captain Clive Gallop, later to become one of the famed “Bentley Boys.” Tragically, Zborowski was killed in a crash during the 1924 Italian GP while driving a Mercedes. Ironically, Louis died in the same way his father did, as Count Eliot Zborowski was killed behind the wheel of a Mercedes in the 1903 LaTurbie hillclimb.

Zborowski’s first Chitty (which no longer exists, nor do Chitty III or IV) used a Maybach aviation engine. Chitty II, the car shown here, was built in 1921 and is powered by an 18.8-liter (that’s 1,146 cubic inches, or two 8-liter Viper engines, an Alfa Montreal V8 and 18 cubic inches to spare) Benz aircraft engine of 230 bhp mounted on a stretched and strengthened chain-drive Mercedes chassis. In its debut at the famed Brooklands racing oval it was timed at over 108 mph. With its custom tourer body, this sports/racer was equally at home on road or track and made some forays into northern Africa and the European continent.

After the Count’s death the car was sold to a private party. Subsequently it was bought by the legendary English motor trader “Bunty” Scott-Moncrief who sold it to a Dover resident. Eventually, the car made its way to the now-closed Ellenville Motor Museum in Ellenville, NY from where it was acquired by the Crawford Auto Collection of Cleveland.