Actor Jon Pertwee remains one of the most iconic actors to have played Doctor Who. Even his successor, Tom Baker recognized the stately and grand presence Pertwee exhibited. Traditionally a song and dance man, Jon Pertwee was at a loss for how to follow famed actor Patrick Troughton as the mysterious Time Lord. When he was given the direction to ‘be himself,’ he was amused as he had no idea who that was! Luckily, the actor was very charismatic, dashing and a fan of modern machinery and cars. This resulted in the creation of a personalized mode of transport outside of the TARDIS, a custom-made futuristic car referred to as the ‘WhoMobile.’
Here’s a quick write up via Retro Thing:
You have to be a bit of a character to take on the lead role in Doctor Who. When Jon Pertwee took over, it was the series’ first venture into colour. These new earthbound adventure brought massive popularity to the show and its star, turning in an impressively popular [five] year run. Known before the role as a comedian, Pertwee played the role straight proving himself to be a great choice for the Doctor. In his real life he was a gadget fan, as well as a sportsman and car enthusiast – all perfect traits for a time traveler. It was while at an appearance at an auto dealership that he met car customizer Peter Farries, which is where the story of Pertwee’s 1973 Whomobile began.
The vehicle was never called the “Whomobile” in the show, though Pertwee does refer to it as such in his memoirs. It was actually designed under another name, “The Alien”. Pertwee and Farries sketched out the fantasy car. Other car customizers said it would take several moldings to create such an unusual shape in fiberglass, but Farries did it in only two. The completed car was 14 feet long, 7 feet across, with fins that reached 5 feet into the air. There are no doors, you have to hop in over the wing, and once inside the driver and uncomfortable passenger are faced with the blinky lights of a prop computer, and a real television with dual rear antennae.
While the WhoMobile (also known as ‘The Alien’) was only featured on screen a couple of times, Jon Pertwee used the vehicle in public appearances, making it a hallmark of Doctor Who. A miniature version was produced, and boy howdy would I faint if I found one!
It made such an impact that back in the 1990’s when Dapol was producing a toyline based on the series, a WhoMobile was actually planned for release. It never graced the toy racks, but we do have this image to dream about.
Pertwee gifted the car to a bereaved fan who owned the car until it was put up for auction in 2010. The WhoMobile is currently privately owned but is still used to promote Doctor Who. It recently appeared at the Who Experience and as the 12th Doctor continues to emulate the 3rd persona with a red-lined jacket followed by a velvet ensemble in the 9th series, it may only be a time before a new signature vehicle is seen.