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|First appearance||Cars (2006)|
|Created by||John Lasseter|
|Voiced by||Larry the Cable Guy (2006–present)|
Adam Burton (Cars 3: Driven to Win)
|Inspiration||1955 - 57 Chevrolet task force tow truck|
|Species||1951 Haulital Hook'em tow truck|
|Significant other||Holley Shiftwell|
Tow Mater KG (Sir Tow Mater), or simply Mater, is a fictional character in the Cars media franchise produced by Pixar. Mater debuted as a major character of Cars as the local tow truck in Radiator Springs, eventually becoming the best friend of Lightning McQueen. In Cars 2, Mater appears as the protagonist and briefly becomes involved with espionage after being mistaken as a spy. In Cars 3, Mater appears as a supporting character.
Following his initial appearance, Mater has become the secondary protagonist throughout the franchise and is generally seen as the series' breakout character, most apparent in his role as the main protagonist in Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales and Cars 2. Mater is also a playable character in each of the Cars video game installments. He is voiced by Larry the Cable Guy and visually inspired by a 1956–57 International Harvester tow truck and 1955-1957 Chevrolet Task Force.
Mater's design is based on a 1955-57 Chevrolet Task Force Tow truck once used to lift equipment from mine shafts in Cherokee County, Kansas. A Cars "Rev'd Up" DVD released as a 2006 bonus in Target stores describes Mater as inspired by a 1957 Dodge truck.
Mater's driving skills include a claim to be "the world's best backwards driver," an ability inspired by Dean Walker, a Kansas Historic Route 66 Association president known in Riverton as "Crazy Legs Walker, the Ambassador of Crazy Feet on Route 66" for his ability to twist his feet backward and walk in reverse.
Mater takes his nickname from construction superintendent and die-hard NASCAR fan Douglas "Mater" Keever, who provides the voice of one of the RV's watching the big race ("Well dip me in axle grease and call me slick!").
My name's Mater ... Yeah, like touh-mater, but without the touh.— Douglas "Mater" Keever, using a nickname picked up early on his maternal grandparents' tomato farm
Mater's final personality was based on his voice actor, Larry the Cable Guy, and he uses many of Larry's catchphrases, including "Git-R-Done" during the final race sequence and "I don't care who you are; that's funny right there" during the tractor tipping scene.
Mater's color was originally baby blue as shown in a flashback when he was young; however, over the years he has rusted into a patchwork light brown/orange color with some of the blue still showing through. He is missing his hood and his left headlight. His license plate number is A113, the classroom number used by character animation students at the California Institute of the Arts. Mater has a very friendly and jolly personality, as he was the first car to befriend Lightning McQueen even though he destroyed Radiator Spring's main road. Mater is also capable of racing, as well as being the (self-proclaimed) world's best backwards driver. He attributes this skill to his rearview mirrors and his own philosophy: "Don't need to know where I'm going, just need to know where I've been."
In Cars 2, Mater displays a vast knowledge of automotive parts and engines. He correctly answers a code question concerning the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia asked by British agent Holley Shiftwell, leading her to mistake him for the American agent she was supposed to meet. Later, when Shiftwell and her partner Finn McMissile show Mater a photograph of a mystery car's engine, he identifies it on sight and points out the spare parts being used to keep it running. His knowledge on car mechanics helps McMissile and Shiftwell apprehend Sir Miles Axlerod. Cars 2 reveals that Mater does not always notice how other cars perceive him, and he begins to doubt himself after realizing that most people see him as being a fool. He regains confidence in himself after reconciling with Lightning McQueen.
In Cars 3, Mater is a supporting character who encourages Lightning in his attempt to continue racing in the Piston Cup against Jackson Storm and the nextgens. He chooses to stay with the other cars in Radiator Springs while Lightning heads off to the Rust-eze Training Center, and gives Lightning the idea to contact Smokey during a video call with him later in the film.
Mater owns, operates, and lives in his own salvage yard called "Tow Mater - Towing & Salvage" and is the first car to befriend and support Lightning McQueen during his stay in Radiator Springs. In the film, Mater bonds with Lightning and teaches him how to play "tractor tipping". After tractor tipping, Lightning tells Mater about the Piston Cup and the benefits he would receive in racing for Dinoco. When Lightning agrees to let Mater fly in a helicopter if he wins the tiebreaker race, Mater states that he knew he made a good choice in choosing Lightning as his best-friend.
During the tiebreaker race, Mater serves as a part of Lightning's pit-crew and witnesses Lightning drive backwards to counter Chick Hicks' dirty racing, a move which Mater taught him earlier. After the race, Mater can be seen riding in a Dinoco helicopter above Radiator Springs like Lightning promised him.
Mater's friendship with McQueen has grown stronger over time, with a lengthy best-friend handshake to prove it. In an attempt to defend McQueen against racing rival Francesco Bernoulli, Mater inadvertently gets McQueen to race in the World Grand Prix. McQueen in turn invites Mater to join him, and they set out from Radiator Springs to Tokyo for the first race. Mater is soon mistaken for an American spy by British Agent Holley Shiftwell. Mater is mesmerized by her beauty and falls for her immediately.
During the first race, Mater accidentally causes a miscommunication that costs McQueen the win, resulting in McQueen lashing out at Mater and telling him that he doesn't need or want his help any more. Feeling rejected, Mater decides to return home, only to be taken back into the spy mission by Shiftwell's partner Finn McMissile. Mater ultimately solves the mystery of the World Grand Prix during the final race in London and is granted an honorary knighthood, and McQueen apologizes to Mater, telling him that he can come to all of his races from now on. At the end of the film, Mater decides to compete in the unofficial Radiator Springs Grand Prix with McQueen after retaining a pair of rocket jets, part of the weapons arsenal he acquired from McMissile and Shiftwell.
Mater remains McQueen's best friend and supporter, going as far as wearing over-the-top novelty hats to encourage McQueen during his races. He is there with Sally to comfort McQueen after he crashes, and is among the rest of the Radiator Springs residents to witness McQueen make the decision to continue racing. Mater decides to stay with the other cars in Radiator Springs while McQueen heads to the Rust-eze Training Center to prepare for the Florida 500, and asks McQueen to call him after he has arrived there.
Later in the film McQueen video calls Mater, and they both have a heart-to-heart conversation. McQueen asks Mater for help after seeing that nextgen racer Jackson Storm has set a new speed record. In response, Mater helps McQueen remember Doc Hudson's mentor and crew chief Smokey, and he decides to locate him and ask for his advice. During the Florida 500, Mater becomes aware of Sterling's selfish plans and buys McQueen some time by distracting Sterling, allowing McQueen to get Cruz Ramirez to replace him during the race. Mater later returns with everyone to Radiator Springs, and is there when McQueen reveals that he would continue racing but first spend the rest of the season as Cruz's crew chief. In a post-credits scene, Mater is seen singing in his junkyard. He receives a call but accidentally knocks his stand over.
Mater and the Ghostlight
Mater and the Ghostlight takes place after the events of Cars and follows Mater's new hobby of pranking various residents of Radiator Springs at night. His final prank is his most successful: Lightning McQueen sees a tow hook hanging from behind a stack of cans and, assuming that Mater is hiding behind it, approaches to foil the prank. Mater then jumps off of the roof of Flo's café, screaming behind McQueen, who becomes startled and knocks over the pile of cans, revealing that the hook was actually the sign for Mater's salvage yard. Everyone starts laughing at McQueen, and Mater teases him by saying that he looked like he had seen the Ghostlight.
Sheriff admonishes Mater for "mocking the Ghostlight," a character of urban legend amongst the cars. The Ghostlight is described as a "glowing orb of blue, translucent light" that haunts Radiator Springs, and hates nothing more than the sound of clanking metal. Sheriff continues to tell the story of a young couple who supposedly encountered the Ghostlight while lost in the area, and whose only remains were "two out-of-state license plates." He concludes with an overly cheerful "Well, g'night!" The population of Radiator Springs then leaves within seconds, leaving a very nervous Mater by himself.
After Mater reaches his home, he is frightened by a "lightning bug" (a tiny flying Volkswagen Beetle with bright headlights). As he relaxes, a bright blue glow suddenly appears behind him and, thinking it is the Ghostlight, goes into a blind panic, racing around Radiator Springs until he is exhausted. The Ghostlight, however, turns out to be a glowing blue lantern placed on Mater's tow hook by McQueen and Guido.
In a post-credits scene, Mater finds that he has a huge construction vehicle behind him, snarling and carrying the license plate "Banshee." Mater does not realize what is though and warns it of the Screaming Banshee before driving off, bidding the confused vehicle a good night.
Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales
In Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales, Mater returns as the main character with Larry the Cable Guy reprising his role. Each tale begins with Mater telling a far-fetched story of his past. In the story, Mater finds himself in an inescapable predicament. When McQueen questions Mater over whether the events in the story actually occurred, Mater responds, "Don't you remember? You was there too!", and continues the story including McQueen's sudden participation. The short series end with Mater leaving the conversation, often followed by characters or references to the story that was being told, putting up a possibility that the story might have been real.
Cars on the Road
After the events of Cars 3, Mater reveals that he has an older sister living at his childhood house in the eastern United States, much to the awe of Lightning McQueen and the other residents of Radiator Springs. He spontaneously announces his decision to drive across the country to attend her wedding, but laments that he has not seen her in ages and is not looking forward to the trip. To make Mater feel better, Lightning offers to go with him and make it a road trip; Mater happily agrees. During the trip, Lightning and Mater make stops at various events and landmarks across the country, including a dino-park, a haunted hotel, and a movie production. Mater is often more open to meeting new cars and trying new experiences than Lightning, which often tends to lead to something unexpected and uncomfortable for him.
When Mater and Lightning finally arrive at Mater's childhood house, Lightning is immediately shocked at the enormous size of the house and the obvious wealthy upbringing of Mater. Lightning and Mater soon discover that Cruz Ramirez is also at the wedding; her cousin, Mateo, is the groom, meaning Mater and Ramirez will become family. When Mater and his sister, revealed to be named Mato, finally see each other, their appearances and personalities sharply contrast from one another. Mato prods Mater on and reveals their competitive rivalry over who is better. They initiate several competitions with one another, delaying the wedding. With help from Cruz, Mater and Mato are able to work out their differences, and the wedding proceeds. At the dinner, Mater gives an inspirational toast. This prompts Lightning to think about the time he and Mater spent together during the road trip, and that taking the road back with Mater would be a better decision than to take an airplane home. The series ends with Mater and Lightning beginning the drive back to Radiator Springs.
Mater appears in all Cars video games with Larry the Cable Guy reprising his role in all games to date (with the exception of Cars 3: Driven to Win). In Cars, Mater is a playable character in Arcade Mode, "Tractor Tipping", and "Rustbucket Race-O-Rama" levels. He does commentary for the "Radiator Springs Grand Prix" and the "Radiator Springs GP". He teaches McQueen how to drive backwards in "Mater's Backwards Lesson". Mater is also a playable character in both the Story and Arcade Mode of Cars Mater-National Championship. Cars Race-O-Rama introduces three new rivals to Mater: Bubba, Tater and Tater Jr., all of them tow trucks, who challenge Mater to a race for the towing rights to Radiator Springs. Mater also makes an appearance as a playable character in Cars 2: the Video Game as well as Disney Infinity, Disney Infinity 2.0, and Disney Infinity 3.0 as a playable character and a figure.
In popular culture
- In 2006, Hollywood automotive body customizer Eddie Paul created Lightning, Sally, and Mater as real-life vehicles brought by Mack on a 41-city Cars promotional tour.
- Real life replicas of Mater and Lightning McQueen are shown at Disney California Adventure Park at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA and Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot (as plants due to the sequel, Cars 2) of Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL. In addition, unofficial replicas have been created by fans of the movie.
- Chatterjee, Pramit (September 8, 2022). "'Cars On The Road' Episodes Recap And Ending, Explained: Do Lightning McQueen & Mater Reach Mato's Wedding?". dmtalkies.com.
- "Meet Mater". Disney. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
- Disney Pixar's The World of Cars: Meet the Cars. Disney Press. 2008. p. 10. ISBN 978-142311925-8.
Mater runs Tow Mater Towing and Salvage ...
- Warnick, Ron (November 12, 2006). "Meet Mater's inspiration". Route 66 News. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Warnick, Ron (October 5, 2006). "Inspiration for Mater is found". Route 66 News. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Meeker, Scott (June 10, 2006). "Riverton man inspired 'Cars' character". Joplin Globe.
- Daly, Steve (June 19, 2006). "Meet the Mater: Steve Daly chatted with North Carolina's Douglas Keever about his life since Pixar used his nickname for their lovable tow truck in Cars". Entertainment Weekly.
- In the short "Mater Private Eye", part of the Mater's Tall Tales series, it is explained that he lost the headlight when a gangster named Clyde popped it out with a screwdriver.
- "Cars 2: What to Know Before You Go". kidstvmovies.about.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011.
- Buchanan, Jason. "Cars 2 (2011) Synopsis". Fandango. Rovi. Jason Buchanan. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
- "A-List Auto Shop". Popular Mechanics. October 1, 2009.
- Picable – Photo Page: The Real "Tow Mater" Archived June 9, 2007, at archive.today
- "Meet Utah's real-life 'Mater'". KSL-TV. June 30, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2012.