Insanely Rare 1912 Austro-Daimler joins Beaulieu's Chitty Display

Apr 16, 2019 2 min read
Insanely Rare 1912 Austro-Daimler joins Beaulieu's Chitty Display

The incredibly rare 1912 Austro-Daimler as used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is to be placed on public display for the first time in decades

The seldom seen 1912 Austro-Daimler 27/80 'Prince Henry' that starred as Lord Scrumptious’ chauffeur-driven car in cult classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is set for display at Beaulieu until November.

The Prince Henry joins Truly Scrumptious’ Humber 8bhp as driven by the actress Sally Ann Howes, the original Child Catcher carriage, and an original onscreen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as built by Alan Mann Racing.

The film’s inventive machines created by Rowland Emett, a replica of Grandpa Potts’ hut, and original artwork and memorabilia from the film’s launch are also included in the display, forming the National Motor Museum’s half-century celebrations of the film – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 years.

The Austro-Daimler remains one of only four known examples of the model to have survived. Regarded as one of the world’s first sports cars, the specimen now set for Beaulieu also boasts an off-screen backstory that trumps its on-screen exploits.

Around 50 examples of the exclusive 27/80 Prince Henry were crafted by the Austro-Hungarian automaker, and the variant viewed on screen has resided with the same family for more than 60 years.

The current keeper’s Grandfather – vintage and veteran car dealer, Cecil Bendall – purchased the Edwardian vehicle for £310 in 1956 from the estate of Herbert Whitey, the individual who founded Paignton Zoo.

Bendall restored the car prior to competing with it through numerous Veteran Car Club rallies and motorsport events, before the producers of Chitty – the same team behind EON’s James Bond franchise – came knocking.

The 1912 Prince Henry was employed by Lord Scrumptious during the film’s opening half, before the vehicle is commandeered by spies during the kidnap of Grandpa Potts. However, while the Austro-Daimler had found silver screen immortality, real life played a different card.

By the late 1970s, the car was in dire need of a rebuild. The sophisticated 5.7-liter engine was in a bad way, and time had eaten away at various fixtures and fittings. After the work was completed, Cecil Bendall had hoped to drive the Prince Henry from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a trial event, but he sadly passed away before the project could be completed.

His Grandson, Tristian Jensen, has since taken the reins of responsibility for the vehicle, with the target of getting the famous machine back on form for historic motoring events once again.

Tristan explained: “A busy life, family and many cars are slowing down the progress. However, all of the new parts have now been made and the engine just requires assembly. I am planning to enter events again in 2020.”

Now, after many years off the road, the Prince Henry has been dusted down to join Beaulieu’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 50 years exhibition. The display is available to view from Easter and will remain on display until the exhibition concludes in November.

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