With World Book Day bringing literature to the forefront of the nation’s mind, even the most thrill-seeking of petrol heads are turning their attention to the books that left a lasting impression on them. But often it isn’t the book’s human characters who have lingered in our mind’s eye over the years – looking back, some great reads are those with cars as the hero of the plot.
Below are our top picks of famous cars in fiction.
The Wind in the Willows
Published in 1908, the same year that Henry Ford brought out the Model T, The Wind in the Willows contains one of the earliest references to cars in literature. Who can forget the descriptions of Mr Toad racing about the English countryside having embarked on the first ever literary car theft to enable his various misadventures?
Our fine four-fingered friend!
Although most people think of the film when they hear of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the story was actually the literary creation of Ian Fleming, most famous for the James Bond franchise. What’s even less well known is that the fictional flying car was in fact based on real-life racing cars, built and raced by Count Louis Zborowski and his engineer Clive Gallop in the 1920s. A rip rollicking read that shows that Fleming’s love affair with the car started before 007 was even a twinkle in his eye.
The Great Gatsby
The motorcar really took off in the roaring twenties, with the privileged elite racing around town in sumptuous vehicles, cocktails in hand. In F Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, cars are a symbol of the American Dream, with Gatsby owning countless models, including a luxurious yellow Rolls Royce. There’s an underbelly to the automotive dream in this novel however, with one of literature’s first hit-and-run accidents causing the death of a character.
Fast forward a few decades and one of the most memorable beginnings to a Harry Potter book is when Harry and Ron crash Mr Weasley’s trusty flying Ford Anglia into Hogwarts’s whomping willow, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A considerably more exciting way to get to school than by the Hogwarts Express, but even we didn’t envy Harry when Snape caught up with him on this occasion!
Feeling inspired? With small cars from MINI, you can nip around the city and the countryside, putting yourself at the centre of your own thriller. There’s a huge variety of new car offers available this spring, so look out for one that can help you bring your literary adventures to life.