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At this year's New York International Auto Show, one concept car stands out amid the futuristic manifestations of the designer's art. Five years and more than $100,000 off the top of his retirement savings, retired New York City police officer Tony Garofalo's quixotic project car – a replica of the titular vehicle from the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – actually began turning heads several days before the show opened with an appreciative New York Times story heralding the car's role at the show.

"They say everyone has their own Mount Everest, something they want to accomplish in their life," Garofalo told the Times. "This is my Mount Everest, my lifetime ambition." The obsession took hold at the movie's New York premiere in 1968, when the 4-year-old Garofalo became mesmerized by a display featuring the actual car from the film.

He began work on the project several years ago, starting with a 1914 Overland Coupe, dropping in an engine from a 1928 Ford, then adding handcrafted elements such as wooden passenger compartment and gleaming copper-plated exhaust headers. The surprisingly street-legal machine has fetched offers as high as $1.5 million, says Garofalo, although he's in no hurry to sell.

While Garofalo credits an uncle who worked for United Artists for getting him into the film's premiere at Radio City Music Hall, thanks, too, should go to the author who conceived the notion of a roadster that flies, floats and enchants the little ones: Ian Fleming. Best known as the writer of the James Bond novels, Fleming penned the children's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car shortly before he died in 1964.

Given that providence, Garofalo's whimsical tribute to the "fine four-fendered friend" of his youth should be right at home amid the sensuous profiles of various Bond-worthy supercars on display around the NY Auto Show. And the more you think about it, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang itself seems like something Q Branch might have built as a weekend driver for 007. To his horror, one expects.

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