Newcomers to Doctor Who may not know about the famous time traveler Whomobile.
The futuristic (well, futuristic for the 1970s) car was featured in at least one episode of the legendary British sci-fi show. But he also made a guest appearance on a popular children’s television show in 1973.
A clip (below) shared this week by the BBC Archive shows Jon Pertwee, the actor who played Doctor Who from 1970 to 1974, chatting about the Whomobile after driving the contraption into the studio.
“It’s something unique, there’s nothing like it in the world,” says Pertwee.
“It’s a very exciting looking machine,” replies the presenter, pointing to its “beautiful silver finish.”
While kids watching at home may have been eager to hear that the Whomobile uses some kind of sci-fi magic to glide across the ground, Pertwee’s description is rather more prosaic, explaining that “it’s on three wheels, one on the front and two in the back.
He adds that it is “a proper car, taxed and insured.”
Realizing that Pertwee may have shattered the fantastical illusion of Doctor Who to millions of young viewers, the host quickly draws attention to the Whomobile’s “air scoop for jet engines.” Pertwee finally decides to play along, confirming that the jets are for when the car takes off and flies.
Clearly ahead of its time, the Whomobile features an in-dash TV, though the screen offered little more than blurry lines when turned on. It also includes a “computer,” if you can call a bunch of random flashing lights such a thing.
Interestingly, the vehicle, which apparently has a top speed of “over 100 mph,” was Commissioned by Pertweenot by the BBC, and built by a guy named Pete Farries who spent much of his time designing and building wacky cars.
But once the creators of Doctor Who they saw the finished product, they quickly wrote it into the episode script Invasion of the Dinosaursusing it to replace an army motorcycle as the Doctor’s mode of transportation.
And Pertwee was serious when he said he had been taxed and insured for driving on regular roads. Here’s some old news footage of the man himself taking a spin, “to the amazement of other motorists,” according to the reporter.
After Pertwee’s death in 1996, the Whomobile reportedly ended up in private hands and is occasionally put on public display.