Long-term LRO readers may remember Nick and Carolyn Pointing. The madcap adventurers decided that creating a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang replica out of a Series Land Rover wasn’t intrepid enough – they had to drive it to Australia.
But after spending a year sleeping in an OzTent, the idea for demountable roof tent was sown. Many years on, Nick has now devised an ingenious pop-up camping pod – a process which features in a recent episode of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4.
Nick told LRO how he kept the latest build costs under £1000, and about the filming process for Amazing Spaces.
How Nick built the camping pod for under £1000
In the show, the pair are humble about what appears to be a dream workshop. ‘We’ve got a lot of rubbish floating around the garden that I can use,’ Nick tells the camera.
What we don’t see is him building the base frame out of an old aluminium roof from a conservatory (which bolts to the structure in the rear-seat area). To this, Nick added channels which wheels in the top section can slide through as the demountable pod is attached or removed.
We also see Nick slicing off the prow of an old sailing dinghy for the new roof to make it look ‘chittified’. Seconds later he’s seen slicing into the rear portion of a LWB Series roof, which became the floor of the camping pod. ‘It was particularly suitable as it was lightweight and strong with strengthening running through it,’ he tells LRO. ‘When building Chitty I had already cut the front section from the old roof to be used in part of the build but then kept the rest of the roof for the last 20 years, just in case!’
Nick used the same Iroko timber as for Chitty's boat tail, and continued the theme with polished aluminum. Brass portholes allow natural light inside and fit with the nautical theme, and powered actuators instead of gas struts automatically open the roof from a remote control unit.
The TV filming experience with George Clarke
The Channel 4 camera crew visited the Pointings every couple of weeks to film the process.
‘They were a great bunch and we made some great friendships,’ Nick told LRO. ‘George Clarke arrived on the reveal day – a lovely bloke. I think my wife Carolyn went weak at the knees! Lots of supplied catering, many other specialist camera equipment and crews and set designers. It was a fabulous day and very memorable. I took George for a drive which he really enjoyed, though he clearly thought we were bonkers!’
How much of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is actually a Land Rover?
Unlike the original Ford-powered, custom-made cars designed for the 1968 film (one of which sold in 2011 for half a million pounds), there is plenty of Land Rover underpinning Nick Pointing’s replica.
‘The Series Land Rover is all original underneath. The only thing I have changed is the body so she is still four-wheel-drive, which has proved a must on our trips overseas.’
Last year the original 4cyl petrol engine, approaching 50 years old, received a full rebuild by Series specialists ACR Engineering in Wales. ‘The bearings were still good but she did puff out a bit of smoke,’ says Nick. ‘Driving overland it seemed like I was putting more oil in her than petrol. But now it drives a real treat – no more embarrassing moments, like being overtaken by a cyclist while going uphill on the Amalfi coast!’
Since driving half way around the world, Chitty has also driven around Europe, and many phantasmagorical adventures lie ahead. This summer (Covid-permitting) the Pointings hope to drive to southern Italy, including Corsica and Sardinia.
Watch the episode of Amazing Spaces (Series I0, Episode 2) here.
The original LRO magazine stories of the Chitty the Land Rover can be found in our June 2007 and April 2012 editions. Order back-issues here.