The Odd Affair of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang

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The ex-Count Zborowski Chitty II was extensively advertised as being auctioned at Olympia last July, at a sale organised by Norman R. Cole in conjunction with the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. A reserve of £15,000 was spoken of, the car’s value probably inflated by the recent film of the same name and all the publicity that went with it, and an American bid £16,500. Those people who expressed regret that this car, so intimately associated with the Canterbury area, should be about to leave these shores will be glad to know that Chitty has had a reprieve. A High Court Judge has issued an injunction to stop the car leaving England until a dispute over who owns it is settled.

Criticism has been coming in about the V.C.C., once so concerned that veterans would not be sold outside this country, associating itself with auctions which have been the means of some old cars finding Overseas buyers. The Club says it merely helps Mr Cole date the cars accurately, and is not otherwise responsible for the auctions and does not benefit from them. The fact remains that it allows Mr Cole to advertise his auctions as run “in conjunction with the V.C.C.” and catalogues are sold by the Club. The Chitty affair leaves a nasty taste, for one would expect an auctioneer selling an object worth so much money to make quite certain of its legal availability for disposal before accepting it; the V.C.C. shrugs this off as no concern of their because Chitty isn’t a veteran! We suggest that the V.C.C. goes back to its original code and has no further association with the sordid, speculative side of the old-car movement.

As for this Chitty affair, it seems that Peter Harris-Mayes of Deal was cited as the owner at the sale, but that Mr Hollis of Dover claims the car has been his since he bought it from David Scott-Moncrieff in 1930 and that he holds the original log book. He is anxious that Chitty should remain in this country, regardless of the vast price Mr Harry Resaick, the American bidder, is prepared to pay, which is why the Court case has been instituted by him.