Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries
Set in circa 1910, the story opens with a montage of European Grand Prix races in which one particular car appears to win every race. In the final race, the car crashes and catches fire, ending its racing career. The car ends up in an old garage in rural England, where two children, Jeremy (Adrian Hall) and Jemima Potts (Heather Ripley), have grown fond of it. However, a man in the junkyard intends to buy the car from the garage owner, Mr. Coggins (Desmond Llewelyn), for scrap. The children, who live with their widowed father Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), an eccentric inventor, and the family's equally peculiar grandfather, implore their father to buy the car, but Caractacus can't afford it. While playing truant from school, they meet Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), a beautiful upper-class woman with her own motor car, who brings them home to report their truancy to their father. After she leaves, Caractacus promises the children that he will save the car, but is taken aback at the cost he has committed himself to. He looks for ways to raise money to avoid letting them down.
The next morning, Potts discovers that the sweets produced by a machine he has invented can be played like a flute. He tries to sell the "Toot Sweets" to Truly's father, Lord Scrumptious (James Robertson Justice), a major confectionery manufacturer. He is almost successful until the whistle attracts a pack of dogs who overrun the factory, resulting in Caractacus's proposition being rejected.
Caractacus next takes his automatic hair-cutting machine to a carnival to raise money, but his invention accidentally ruins the hair of a customer. Potts eludes the man by joining a song-and-dance act. He becomes the centre of the show and earns enough in tips to buy the car and rebuild it. They name the car "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" for the unusual noise of its engine. In the first trip in the car, Caractacus, the children, and Truly picnic on the beach. Caractacus tells them a tale about nasty Baron Bomburst (Gert Fröbe), the tyrant of fictional Vulgaria, who wants to steal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
As Potts tells his story, the quartet and the car are stranded by high tide and are attacked by pirates working for the Baron. All of a sudden, Chitty deploys huge flotation devices and transforms into a power boat, and they escape Bomburst's yacht and return to shore. The Baron sends two spies to capture the car, but they capture Lord Scrumptious, then Grandpa Potts (Lionel Jeffries), mistaking each for the car's creator. Caractacus, Truly, and the children see Grandpa being taken away by airship, and they give chase. When they accidentally drive off a cliff, Chitty sprouts wings and propellers and begins to fly. They follow the airship to Vulgaria and find a land without children; the Baroness Bomburst (Anna Quayle) abhors them and imprisons any she finds. Grandpa has been ordered by the Baron to make another floating car, and he bluffs his abilities to avoid being executed. The Potts' party is hidden by the local Toymaker (Benny Hill), who now works only for the childish Baron. Chitty is discovered and taken to the castle. While Caractacus and the toymaker search for Grandpa and Truly searches for food, the children are caught by the Baron's Child Catcher (Robert Helpmann).
The Toymaker takes Truly and Caractacus to a grotto beneath the castle where the townspeople have been hiding their children. They concoct a scheme to free the children and the village from the Baron. The Toymaker sneaks them into the castle disguised as life-size dolls for the Baron's birthday. Caractacus snares the Baron, and the children swarm into the banquet hall, overcoming the Baron's palace guards and guests. In the ensuing chaos, the Baron, Baroness, and the evil Child Catcher are captured. The Pottses and Truly fly back to England. When they arrive home, Lord Scrumptious surprises Caractacus with an offer to buy the Toot Sweet as a canine confection. Caractacus, realising that he will be rich, rushes to tell Truly the news. They kiss, and Truly agrees to marry him. As they drive home, he acknowledges the importance of pragmatism, as the car takes off into the air again.
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