AUBURN, Ind. - The red-and-yellow winged roadster that starred in the film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" sold at auction for US$505,000 to a Florida collector.

Ralph Spencer of Jacksonville, Fla., bought the car during a sale Saturday at 16th annual Auburn Spring Motorfair at Kruse Auction Park. Spencer, owner of Mulch Manufacturing Inc., already owns a 1966 Batmobile and said he had his eyes on the winged car for the past few years.

"I've always liked this car," Spencer said. "I was a fan of the movie."

The car was previously displayed in a Chicago restaurant formerly known as JR's Retreat. Jim Rich sold the car to help pay off a bankruptcy debt, according to postings at the auction.

Auction company President Dean Kruse appraised the car in 1998 at US$980,000.

"The car was in storage for so long, it needed a little work," he said.

The auction attracted some fans of the 1968 film, which starred Dick Van Dyke, to see the car. David Stefanchick, 48, brought his family from Cincinnati to see it up close.

"I'm thinking about building a replica of the car," he said. "Just think about the reaction of the kids in the neighbourhood if they saw this thing rolling down the street. The ice cream truck wouldn't stand a chance."