Mad Max “Pursuit Special” – The Original V8 MFP Interceptor


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?

Mad Max 1979
Mel Gibson as Mad Max (1979)

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!

Mad Max behind the wheel of the V8 Ford XB Interceptor
Max sets out in the “Pursuit Special” MFP Interceptor

“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 final scene of Mad Max 1979
The final scene of Mad Max 1979

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.

The "Pursuit Special" V8 Interceptor at the Miami Auto Museum (Dezer Collection) 2014
The “Pursuit Special” V8 Interceptor at the Miami Auto Museum (Dezer Collection) 2014
Mad Max V8 1973 Ford XB Coupe
The “Pursuit Special” MFP V8 Interceptor was an Australian 1973 Ford XB GT Coupe (originally it was white)

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.

Mad Max "Pursuit Special" V8 MFP Interceptor
“Pursuit Special” V8 MFP Interceptor
Mad Max V8 interceptor Dezer Collection Miami
The Ford XB is still a great looking car
Mel Gibson in the V8 in Mad Max 2
Mel Gibson in the V8 in Mad Max 2 (this may have been the one that was destroyed as the dashboard looks different from the original – see photo below)
Mad Max V8 interceptor interior
The interior is much like it was in Mad Max 2
The "Pursuit Special" V8 Interceptor at the Miami Auto Museum (Dezer Collection) 2014
This is the Mad Max 2 incarnation of the V8 so it is fitted with long range fuel tanks
Mad Max Dinki Di Dog Food Dezer
A box of Dinki-Di dog food was a nice touch. Dog would be very happy!
Max & Dog in Mad Max 2
Max & Dog (Mad Max 2)

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.

Mad Max 1979
Mad Max 1979 – the original black on black paint scheme is evident in this photo

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.

The "Pursuit Special" V8 Interceptor at the Miami Auto Museum (Dezer Collection) 2014
The blower and pipes differ from the Mad Max and Mad Max 2 incarnations of the V8 Interceptor
Mad Max v8 interceptor Dezer collection Miami FL USA
Due to the lighting it was difficult to get a good shot of the “Pursuit Special” from this angle
Blower/Supercharger Mad Max 2 V8 interceptor
Blower/Supercharger
Blower/Supercharger Mad Max 2 V8 interceptor
Blower/Supercharger
Mad Max V8
The V8 in action in the original Mad Max

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.

Mad Max 2 Ford XB Coupe V8 interceptor saved from the scrapyard
The interceptor at the scrap yard in South Australia in 1983 (Photo Source: MadMaxMovies.com)

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.

The "Pursuit Special" V8 Interceptor at the Miami Auto Museum (Dezer Collection) 2014
Last of the V8’s

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!

Mad Max V8 interceptor Miami Auto Museum
Mission accomplished!

 

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Dean Clemens says:

    If I were Mel Gibson, I would make a bid for the car!

    1. Deano says:

      He sure does have the cash for it!

  2. frankenjeep says:

    It was this car, more than any other, that began my love affair with dystopian future / post apocalyptic vehicles! Nearly two decades later, I was able to witness my son’s reaction when he first laid eyes on the same car.
    He has all three of the Mad Max movies, his favorite being The Road Warrior, and he is anticipating the release of the fourth installment. I do not normally condone bringing a 7 year old to an R rated movie, but seeing as it premieres a week after his birthday, he will be 8 when we see it, and I will make this exception.

    1. Deano says:

      Given I got snuck into the first one, then rated R in Australia at about the same age, back in 1979 I think he will be OK. These movies had the same impact on me in regards to the dystopian backdrop. Thanks for touching base. Bring on 2015 and the Fury Road!

  3. great report/i got a chance to ride in a ford falcon 351 when i visited darwin,australia.i met a guy who was in the australian army who had one. he gave me a ride,brought back alot of memories of mad max(watching movie right now)

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks. Aussie muscle cars of the 70’s were something that’s for sure. Very different in styling from the US ones – Holden Monaro was a classic too

  4. Andy says:

    I was lucky enough to see these car in the flesh when it resided at ‘The cars of the Stars’ museum in Keswick, Cumbria in the Northwest of England……..Wish I’d sneaked into the driver’s seat now!!

    1. Deano says:

      It is an amazing collection Andy. I am with you there. I would have loved to have gotten behind the wheel of the last of the V8’s! I have had to settle with sitting in replicas so far

      1. Dave says:

        I was lucky enough to have sat in the interceptor a handful of times at keswick, we were friends with the Nelsons who owned the musieum…mad max being my fav movie and that car has been my fav since i was 8! It was a dream come true.

      2. Deano says:

        I am heading up to the region where Mad Max 2 was filmed again soon (Silverton, NSW)

      3. Deano says:

        A great dream to fulfill too!

  5. Graham lawson says:

    Readind this, has given me a lot more info on the car/film…(and i thought I knew a fair bit…) thanks

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks Graham. Cannot wait for the new Mad Max

  6. Robert says:

    Nice article, never new they wanted to scrap it!

    1. Deano says:

      Thanks Robert. It was a close call!

  7. cyborg512 says:

    Love the Max movies. Owned an ’04 GTO, Monaro with Corvette drive train. I loved that car! Oddly though I am a Ford man and always wanted a 351 powered Mustang or Pantera. After seeing the first Max movie I wanted one of those “Aussie Ford’s”! Being American kinda squashes that idea. Maybe I’ll head for Miami, steal the car and take it for a spin. lol

    1. Deano says:

      Great cars one and all! Actually out of interest a number of people have Ford XB and similar vehicles in the US that they imported. Many of them are expat Aussie owners. I would love to drive the “last of the V8’s”!

  8. Gary Brenner says:

    As I understand it, a second Interceptor was made for Mad Max 2, the 2 cars were used in the film, one of them for the stunt work including the scene in which the Interceptor is wrecked and blown up. Also, I hear that one of them had a 4 speed top loader trans and the other was an automatic trans. Does anyone know if that’s right or have any more info on the transmissions in the cars?

    1. Deano says:

      Hi Gary, yes 2 cars were used in Mad Max 2 with 1 destroyed. Not sure on the auto transmission but yes the standard was a manual type top loader 4 speed

  9. Gary Brenner says:

    Does anyone know of any Interceptor replicas in the NY/NJ area.

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