Top Gear Thursday: ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ Composer Dies, But Flying Car Story Lives On

Movie poster detail of 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'

Sadly, the composer of the music score for the fantasy car movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang died in London this week. Robert Sherman, who was 86, wrote, along with his brother Richard, the music for the family classic based on Ian Fleming’s book, as well as hundreds of other songs, including those in Mary Poppins. According to the Associated Press, Sherman developed a special affection for Britain during his U.S. Army service in World War II. Children of all ages can’t forget the infectious title song.

• Coincidentally, the book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be getting renewed attention next week with the publication of a sequel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, written by British children’s book author Frank Cottrell Boyce.

James Bond creator Ian Fleming based the original book on a real-life racing car built by a count named Louis Zembroski, who attemped to break the land speed record in the 1920s. Zembrowski himself called his car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because of the extremely loud noises the car made. Cottell Boyce writes Zembrowski in as a character in the new book.

Cottrell Boyce came to the attention of the Fleming family, which has authorized the sequel, the first of a projected three, because one of his previous books, Framed, has a central character whose family runs an auto shop.

Speaking of the original book, Cottrell Boyce says that it’s been overshadowed by the film. “Hardly anyone,” he says, has read it, and he points out that it’s extremely different from the movie.

“What I love about Ian’s book is that the whole family goes on an adventure. That’s very unusual in children’s fiction,” Cottell Boyce told the Associated Press. “I definitely wanted to take it out for a ride, but I was very cautious about scratching the paint.”

• Remember The Interceptors? It’s a mock title sequence for a made-up seventies style TV show the guys shot last season. “We all put on stick-on moustaches – I hid my real moustache whilst we did it,” says James May in a YouTube clip. “And we wore seventies clothes and went around shooting things up and looking at women in bikinis and all the things they used to do at the beginning of programs.” May said he’d love to do a show like that but pointed out a few obstacles.

• And in case you’re still thinking about last week’s fiery crash at the Daytona 500, in which a racecar plowed into a track-drying truck, here’s a conversation about how it played out on social media. As Matt Hardigree pointed out in Jalopnik, one driver on the scene, who tweeted a photo of the fireball, picked up 100,000 new followers in just two hours. Hardigree joined a panel on Drive’s Road Testament to discuss what it all means for NASCAR and racing: