My own private Chitty

My own private Chitty
Director from "Swan Lake On Ice" and casts from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" attend a photocall in Singapore
PHOTO: Reuters

A retired New York City cop, John Lennon impersonator and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang superfan has built a cunning replica of the original flying car.

Convention-centre lobbies tend to give off a sideshow vibe during auto shows. Out here, away from the heavy hitters in the main halls, sits a hodgepodge of vintage artefacts, homebuilt specials, earnest eco-solutions and tacky paint-and-wheel "concept" cars. And during this year's New York auto show, the soaring atrium of Manhattan's Jacob Javits Center was no different. That's where we found Tony Garofalo and his car. On a swath of red carpeting, sandwiched between a khaki-coloured Lamborghini with US Marine Corps messaging and the Mazda Miata Spyder concept from the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association show, sits the New Yorker's cunning, hand-built replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the 1968 film of the same name.

Garofalo was four years old when his mother Anna took him to an opening night showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. She could not have known the effect the movie would have on him.

"I was completely blown away," he says.

Young Tony emerged from the cinema saying, "I'm going to build that car."

It was a mantra he would repeat often to his single mom while growing up in Queens. And like any indulgent mum, she would reply reassuringly: "Sure you are. Of course you are." Life happened, as it tends to do. Tony grew up, developing other interests - including the guitar - along the way. As a teenager, he worked in a garage and started tinkering with cars. He played John Lennon for a while in a touring company of the musical Beatlemania, and still plays in a Beatles tribute band. Eventually, he ended up a New York City cop, retiring as a Detective Sergeant after 20 years that included first responder duty during the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001

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