OK there is no secret about my passion for the Mad Max movies. My 2011 blog: Mad Max…time to hit the fury road! is one I constantly update with new information on the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) starring Tom Hardy and of course stories, photos and my own experiences with the original Mel Gibson movies: Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). Classic characters (good, evil and in between), action, drama, humour, iconic cars and motorbikes. What’s not to like?
The car chases and car duels really set these movies apart from the rest. I can only begin to describe my excitement at recently seeing the original 1973 Ford XB GT Coupe “Pursuit Special” MFP Interceptor that was used by Max in both Mad Max and Mad Max 2! This car had a 300bhp 351ci V8 engine fitted as standard and thus the movie tag of “the last of the V8’s” was born. This is probably the most iconic car to come out of Australia!
“She sucks nitro… with Phase 4 heads! 600 horsepower through the wheels! She’s meanness set to music and the bitch is born to run!”
– Barry the MFP mechanic describing the “Pursuit Special” V8 Interceptor to Max and Goose.
The “Pursuit Special” is today on display in the Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection in North Miami, Florida. It is just one of many Hollywood cars on display including an amazing James Bond Collection. I am very happy to say I recently visited the museum and got to see this car.
This incarnation of the V8 is somewhere between the two movies. Externally it has been restored to look more or less like the MFP Interceptor did at the end of Mad Max (no MFP decals though) but it also has the long-range fuel tanks that were added for Mad Max 2 (at the start of that movie it was nowhere near as clean as this!). The interior is much as it appeared in the sequel.
The main variance from the original movie is that the restored paint scheme of the car is all black gloss rather than the original two-tone black on black scheme (black gloss on the top half, satin black on the bottom half and a satin pinstripe that followed the cars curves). In Mad Max 2 it was actually painted all matt black with red dust and muddy special effects added.
The other variance to the version of the “Pursuit Special” seen in Mad Max is that the blower (supercharger) and pipes are different (the supercharger didn’t actually work in the movie, that was all faked for visual effect). After that movie they had to be removed so that the car could be classed as roadworthy to drive on Australian roads (it appeared around the country at car shows and events). They were either lost or stolen between movies as new ones had to be fitted for Mad Max 2 and this is what you see on the car today.
After Mad Max, movie makers George Miller and Byron Kennedy had spent all their money and needed to pay creditors so the car was sold to Murray Smith (who had worked on it for the movie). Due to the box office success of the original movie though, a sequel was assured so they bought it back from him! It is a stroke of luck the car still exists today though. After Mad Max 2 was completed it was meant to be scrapped (insanity!) but luckily the wishes of the movie makers were not adhered to and a scrap dealer in South Australia kept the car instead! In late 1983 the car was “rediscovered” by Bob Fursenko in that same scrapyard and purchased by him.
Apart from some damage to the front end during the filming of scenes in Mad Max 2 the car was in pretty good condition considering it had been sitting out in the open for a few years. Restoration work was soon begun. $25,000 and a few months later the V8 was back! Now the new owner had to make some money back on his investment and the Mad Max V8 went on a highly successful road show around Australia.
Following the tour the car was loaned to the National Motor Museum of Australia (Birdwood, South Australia) where it naturally became a very popular exhibit. By the early 1990’s the car ended up being sold again and found its way to the Cars of the Stars Museum in the UK. There it remained until 2011 when it was purchased by the Dezer Collection. This famous car has had quite a journey over the years but I still hope someday it ends up permanently back in Australia.
To restore a classic movie car that appeared in two movies yet was very different looking in both must have been a difficult task. They had to make some compromises to make it look familiar yet not completely lose its original look. Some people prefer the dirty look of Mad Max 2 and others the cleaner MFP Interceptor stage. The restoration paint scheme is not the classic one but a decision was made that it didn’t need to be exact and it is what it is, a movie icon. For me I am just glad that it still exists and after so many journeys to filming sites and events I finally got to see the last of the V8’s!