The original “Pink Panther” car and a replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang may raise as much as 350,000 pounds ($570,000) in an online auction.
Fans of 1960s and 1970s shows will be attracted by the vehicles, even though the “Panthermobile” is no longer running and the “Chitty” hasn’t been driven in 18 months. Both are being sold by the Manchester, England, corporate-recovery company Robson Kay.
The auction, which comes as prices of the rarest collectable cars rise, is being run on behalf of an unidentified U.K. finance company that funded the purchases for a private collector from north-west England. The auction, hosted by bidspotter.com, will begin at noon on Sept. 4, and run through Oct. 14.
“The collector used finance to buy them,” Jonathan Kay, co-founder of Robson Kay, said in an interview. “The payments weren’t coming through and the agreement has been terminated.”
The “Panthermobile” was created in 1969 to be part of the NBC’s “Pink Panther” TV show, which ran until 1976. The one-off vehicle was the brainchild of Jay Ohrberg, a Hollywood designer sometimes credited for work on the 1966 Batmobile, Starsky & Hutch’s Ford Torino and the Flintstones’ prehistoric runabouts.
The futuristic pink supercar was knocked down to Robson Kay’s unidentified collector at auction in London for 88,000 pounds in June 2007. While it is illegal to drive on public roads, it will be re-offered online with a guide price of 50,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds.
“This is a difficult car to value,” Kay said. “It’s a complete one-off. If two people think it would be a good thing to put in something like a shopping mall, the sky could be the limit.”
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a replica built in 2000 by enthusiast Tony Green, modeled on the six cars used in the 1968 film, starring Dick Van Dyke. The script, by Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes, was loosely based on a novel by James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming.
Powered by a 3L V6 Ford engine, the drivable car has the registration number “GEN 22” and needs a service and some restoration, the auction house said.
This clone of Fleming’s “phantasmagorical” flying and floating machine took Green three years to build and was sold by him for 250,000 pounds in 2007. Robson Kay’s unidentified collector spent a further 48,720 pounds on the car to incorporate automatically opening wings and rising propellers and rotor blades.
If the car sells within its 100,000-pounds to 250,000-pounds valuation, it won’t have proved a profitable investment.
An original road-going “Chitty” used in the film was sold by a Beverly Hills auction house for $805,000 in May. It had been valued at $1 million to $2 million.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)