Dick Van Dyke, star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and Diagnosis Murder, had a lucky escape from a burning car in LA yesterday.

The 87-year-old actor was pulled from his Jaguar by a passer-by just before it turned into a fireball after he had stopped on the Ventura Freeway near Los Angeles. Dick told TMZ: 'It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp.'

Dick was discovered by Jason Pennington, who stopped to help after he saw smoke coming from the car, and thought the 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' star had passed out when he saw him at the wheel. Dick explained: 'They thought I had passed out, so they yanked me out of the car. They thought I had fainted, but I was just trying to call the DMV.'

When asked whether he felt lucky to be alive, Dick added: 'Absolutely! And there was a fireman and a nurse and cop who just happened to be passing by. Somebody's looking after me!' Dick - who is married to Alrene Silver - also admitted he wasn't able to thank Jason before he left the scene as he was a little shaken up, but still found time to crack a joke. He said: 'It wasn't the scariest [moment of my life] but it was scary. Tell 'em I have a nice used car for sale.'

Dick was then picked up by his wife, Arlene Silver. The charred remains of his car were towed away.