Essentially, with a childhood dream, 5 years of sleepless nights, and a little help from my friends,- I have transformed a rusty old 1914 overland model 79 into a Chitty Chitty bang Bang Replica movie car, the most Iconic Movie car in the world. now insured by Hagerty for $150,000!!!!!
My name is Tony Garofalo and I live in Long Island, New York. I am a retired NYPD police sergeant/ 911 survivor, and currently perform as a John Lennon impersonator in the Broadway Beatlemania show, Strawberry Fields, playing weekly at BB Kings Blues club in Times Square NYC.
In 1968 my mother took me to see the premiere showing of the movie CCBB at Radio City Music Hall during Christmas. My uncle worked for united Artists Pictures on the production set of the movie, so he got us premiere showing tickets. As a 4 year old, seeing this movie car on the big screen for the first time, as well as seeing the real car parked out front of the theater for promotional purpose was the thrill of a lifetime! I told my mom as a small boy, some day I'm going to build that car! As a kid growing up in NYC, I eagerly watched and learned everything about cars from my father, who was a Garage " do-it-yourself" mechanic. I quickly learned as a teen to do everything on my own car as well as fixing everyone loses car in my neighborhood, so became quite popular !
I joined the NYPD in 1986, got married,mad 2 kids and continued fighting crime on the dangerous streets of NYC, while still trying to figure out how and when I would ever build this famous movie car replica?
In 2006, I retired from the NYPD, and sadly enough, my mother died from cancer the same week as my retirement at the age of 65, so we never got to share that childhood promise of driving in Chitty Chitty bang Bang together. This was the year I decided to build the car, a tribute for my mother, but how and when????
In 2010, I found an Ad in Old Cars weekly advertising a 1914 Overland model 79 for sale in New Jersey. It looked pretty rough, but had a right hand drive steering wheel, so figured this might be a good candidate for building CCBB. Prior to that, I only saw overpriced antique cars that I couldn't tear apart, or cars that were badly eroded and rusted. This car was in between that, so I traveled 5 hours in the dead of winter to look at the car. Quite frankly, I had heard of Willys Overland, but never thought that they built cars back in 1914, or even earlier than that. I arrived , saw the car and had mixed feelings about it. It was badly neglected, old and rusted, however it did have right hand drive, solid chassis and an engine- drive shaft and rear axle, as well as wheels. I decided to buy it- the journey begins!!
I began tearing it apart, only to find a badly dried out rear end, gear box and bearings. The engine was actually a model 83 motor with 2 badly broken lifters, no crank shaft, no water pipes Carb or exhaust manifold. What do I do now?? My first order of business was joining the WOKR club. It was there I learned about the car, it's parts and how to find parts. I made very good friends with WOKR overland club members, who also own the same car, they were very helpful in restoring this car. Unfortunately after a year of hunting engine parts, I decided to possibly abandon my dream and cut my losses. It was only then that my friend, a FORD guy said, " hey what would be so bad in putting in a Model A engine? You can find every nut and bolt in a catalog" . So after careful deliberation, I decided to SELL OUT and put in a ford engine an abandon the Jug style Overland engine. Most of your readers would probably Cringe at the the thought of swaping a ford engine into an Overland car, but hey- I did save this car from the Junk Yard right??
I acquired a 1928 model A engine, tore that apart , rebuilt it, and started the daunting task of mating this engine with the original overland universal joint and propeller drive shaft assembly. This procedure is too long and involve to explain in the story, but trust me, i did get it to work marvelously, without a hitch. The car was now a running rolling chassis. All four wheel were rebuilt by Calimer Wheels in PA, who worked off of original Overland Wheel patterns and they look great. The steering box was also in great shape, and I additionally cleaned out the rear axle and gear box with kerosene, and lubricated everything to factory specs.
In 2011, I had the unique opportunity to see the original CCBB movie car, that was being auctioned in Los Angeles by Profiles in History, so it was then that I got to study in person the real actual dimensions and sizes that I needed my overland car to mimic the real CCBB car. After making an appointment with the auction house, I was given 2 hours of quality time for inspection and driving, an opportunity of a lifetime!
I continued beginning to fabricate parts like the iconic brass radiator shell and rear Basket shelf on the car, as well as planning the running board supports and converting the entire car engine to 12 volts. But this CCBB has the iconic passenger body compartment that looks like a boat. I'm not a boat builder - what now?
In 2013, I contracted a master boat builder carpenter who essentially helped me in building this cosmetics for the car. All of the boat work you see in photos is hand made, steam bent woods of variation to include: Oak, Pine, And several other exotic woods, and all woods used on the original car. This boat work and various cosmetic sample wooden bucks for many parts on the car took almost 3 years to complete. I additionally contracted the help of several local fabricators who helped in making all of the brass parts, stainless steel hood and fenders. This process was not only time consuming , but very expensive. In the end it was all worth it, because they followed my designs and direction to the letter making the finished product just beautiful!
The car was completed on June 30,2015 a project that took over 5 years to complete at a cost of over $100,000. The last finishing touch was installing retractable wings that fold out from under the car with 2 -12 volt actuators, just like in the movie. Everybody has continually asked me, " does the car fly"! Now I can say yes!!!! Ha! upon its release we had a christening party for the car which included all of the fabricator friends involved in the build, as well as several hundred patiently awaiting friends and family.
I am most proud of the final result in that it turns heads wherever we go to a crowd of both young and old. CCBB is the world most iconic movie car, and I'm actually driving it down the street. It is uniquely registered with original 1914 New York license plates, road legal and insured by Hagerty and people can't believe their looking at a 1914 car. I am most proud that i also saved a 1914 overland car from the scrap yard, and got to meet many dedicated car lovers , they are friendly , helpful and so proud of their cars, I know the feeling now! The car has continually been viewed by many car enthusiasts and I've already been offered a half million dollars for it by a CCBB investor fanatic. I'm flattered but I don't think I'll part with it for a long time, we're having too much fun with it!! I am also the sole current owner of the real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stage musical production car which is ready to go on exhibit at the AACA museum in Hershey PA, November 2015 through January 2016 for a full movie car exhibit, an event which I have donated to the museum for public interest.
This car is dedicated to my mother, Anna Garofalo, for her loving support . Hey mom, " I did it" !!