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Whomobile

The Whomobile was created in the UK, 1973 after being specially commissioned by Jon Pertwee (The 3rd Dr Who in the BBC TV Series “Dr Who”) from designer Peter Farries. Farries at the time was Chairman of the Nottingham Drag and Custom Club. In January 1973 Jon Pertwee was opening a Ford Main Dealers branch in Nottingham (UK) and he saw an early restored Model T Ford called “The Californian Hot Rod” that could do 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. Pertwee found out that it was created by Peter Farries and so asked him to design a custom-built car that would suit his futuristic character in the Dr Who series. Powered by a 975cc Hillman Imp Sports engine specially prepared by Chrysler UK the vehicle could reach 105 mph and averaged around 50 mpg.

The vehicle (Reg No WVO 2M) was 14 feet long and 7 feet wide with large fins extending five foot from the ground. The body was made from fibreglass and constructed in just two sections which was a task considered impossible by other designers at the time. This was then mounted on to a steel box section chassis that incorporating a sheet steel floor pan for added strength. An 8 inch rubber skirt was attached to the underside of the body which concealed the wheels (two at the back, one at the front) to give the illusion that the vehicle was a hovercraft.

The vehicle had no doors, to gain access you climbed in over the wing. Inside the Sci-fi look continued with a TV screen and a fake “computer bank” of flashing lights to the left of the TV.  It also featured a silver radio cassette player.  Both the radio and TV were serviced by twin electric aerials that rose from the back of the car at the flick of a switch.  Due to UK law the TV had a cover that had to be in place when the vehicle was in use on public roads.

By late September 1973 the Whomobile was written into the Dr Who series and was first featured in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" where the Doctor would have been otherwise riding on a motorbike. The car still lacked a proper roof and windscreens when filming took place and so a makeshift motorboat windscreen was used as a temporary measure to ensure it was legally roadworthy. By the time it made its second and last appearance in the series in Planet of the Spiders it had been fully completed. The vehicle was never referred to on screen as the Whomobile and was known as the Alien, although Jon Pertwee himself calls it the Whomobile in his memoirs. In later years Jon Pertwee 'lent' the Whomobile to a bereaved fan whose mother had died tragically. He would then borrow it back for Special Events. According to a BBC interview in December 2003 Farries states that the car was eventually sold at a car auction for 1,200 after being mistaken for a motorboat.

The Whomobile (Screen shot from BBC Blue Peter program

The Whomobile dashboard showing TV and computer bank. (Screen shot from BBC Blue Peter program

More BBC photos of the Whomobile / Alien

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