|Affiliation||Main Force Patrol
Mad Max film series
|Propulsion||Internal combustion engine
The Pursuit Special, also referred to as the V8 Interceptor, is the iconic black police interceptor used by the fictional Main Force Patrol in the Mad Max film series. The vehicle appears in the first two films, was absent from the third movie (it was portrayed as destroyed in Mad Max 2), and was re-introduced for the fourth installment in the series. In the films, they are claimed as "Pursuit Specials", and differ from other MFP police cars.
The first car shown in the film with the title Pursuit Special is a 1971 Holden Monaro GTS350 coupe stolen and driven by the escaped criminal, the Night Rider. The more famous Pursuit Special is a modified 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. Within this storyline, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is offered the black Pursuit Special, referred to as a V8 Interceptor, as an incentive to stay on the force as their top pursuit man after he reveals his desire to quit to retire. Although Max turns the offer down, he later uses the black car to exact his revenge on an outlaw motorcycle gang who killed his wife and child. He never returned after he avenged them, instead, he took the Pursuit Special as his own car and left, unofficially resigning from MFP.
The vehicle started out as a standard white 351 cu in (5.8 L) 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe when in 1976, filmmakers Byron Kennedy and George Miller began pre-production on Mad Max. The movies art director Jon Dowding designed the Interceptor and commissioned Melbourne based car customizers Graf-X to modify the GT Falcon. Peter Arcadipane, Ray Beckerley, John Evans and painter Rod Smythe transformed the car as specified for the film.
The main modifications are the black paint scheme as well as roof and boot spoilers, wheel arch flares, front nose cone and air-dam designed by Arcadipane (marketed as the "Concorde" style). There were also eight individual exhaust side pipes (only two of them being functional, others appeared to be working because of the vibrations the first two created). The most famous feature of the car is a nun-functional Weiand 8 1/2 supercharger protruding through the bonnet. Research conducted by Bob Fursenko, the original restorer of the vehicle after Mad Max 2, indicated that it was powered by an electric motor, others stated it was driven by the air-conditioning compressor, both controlled by a red pull switch on the gear stick. Typically, functional superchargers are driven constantly by the engine and cannot be switched on and off, as portrayed in the first two Mad Max films.
At the completion of filming, the producers could not pay all the creditors so the black Interceptor was passed on to part time actor and motor mechanic Murray Smith who was contracted to service and modify the car for high speed filming. The blower and side-pipes were removed to make it suitable for use as a standard road going vehicle and then it was used as a promotional car for the film before finally being put up for sale.
Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)
The rear wheels and side-pipes were changed. For the second film the original Weiand blower, which was removed and subsequently lost, was replaced. Unlike in Mad Max, this time the supercharger was functional (connected directly to the engines crankshaft pulley) and the effect of the blower being engaged or disengaged was created by placing the vehicle on a low loader and while in motion, the interceptors engine was simply started or stopped, and it was deliberately aged to appear rusty. The car was cosmetically modified for the new post-apocalyptic setting with the addition of a pair of large cylindrical fuel tanks fitted in the rear (requiring the back window and boot-lid to be removed) and its general appearance was given a more used look by painting the vehicle in matte rather than gloss black, and the paint was scrubbed off to appear rusty. The front end was also modified by removing the air-dam. A duplicate car was also put together for Mad Max 2. When the script required it to be destroyed by rolling down an embankment and eventually exploding, the duplicate interceptor was used, leaving the original vehicle intact.
Disposal and restoration
When production was completed the intact Pursuit Special was sold to a wrecking yard in Broken Hill, along with other wrecks from the movie. In the mid-eighties the car was rescued by Bob Fursenko who restored the Interceptor by having a new nose cone and air-dam fitted but retaining the fuel tanks from Mad Max 2. Fursenko confirmed the vehicles authenticity with Kennedy Miller studios. It was subsequently shown widely in Australia before being sold by Fursenko and shipped to the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in England, where it stayed until its closure in 2011. It was then re-located in the Dezer Car Museum in Miami, Florida, USA.
Mad Max: Fury Road
While the Pursuit Special did not appear in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the vehicle was resurrected for the fourth film in the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller stated that "all the vehicles are kind of hybrid, cobbled together, from the wrecks of the past." The vehicle only features briefly in the film; it is captured along with Max in the pre-title sequence, and is shown being repaired by a group of Immortan Joe's followers. It returns during the climactic battle, being driven by a War Boy, only to be crushed in between two larger vehicles. Miller also alluded in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Fury Road is not a reboot or a sequel, stating that "the films are loosely connected."
In the movies, Pursuit Specials were referred as special, undercover police cruisers which also served as interceptors. In the beginning of the first Mad Max movie, there was only one Pursuit Special stored in a garage, a 1971 Holden Monaro, which was rusty and used. It was stolen by Nightrider, a member of a motorcycle gang called The Zed Runners, but he later wrecked it and died in the crash. Pursuit Special, when the term is used, generally is used for Max's Pursuit Special.
The second, famous V8 Interceptor Pursuit Special, is a 1973 Ford XB Falcon GT 351, which was paid by a civil servant and Main Force Patrol's (MFP) sponsor, Commissioner Labatouche, at great expense: it was assembled by the MFP's mechanic, Barry. The exhaust pipes and the Weiand "blower" supercharger, though non-functional props, were depicted to be in working function. The sole purpose of the Pursuit Special was to persuade Max to stay in MFP, since he has been thinking of retirement. Max first refused the offer, but when Max's family was murdered, he went to the Halls Of Justice, MFP's base, stole the Pursuit Special from the garage and went on a rampage in order to avenge his family. MFP reported the theft, but decided not to pursue Max. Using the car, Max injured or killed almost every member of the gang, save from Bubba Zanetti, whom he murdered with a shotgun, and Johnny The Boy, whom he had cuffed on a car wreck by his ankle and gave him a choice to either saw off the handcuff's chain (which was made from high-tensile steel and would take him 10 minutes), or his own ankle (which would take 5 minutes), and set a crude delay using gasoline and a lighter in order to explode in an unspecified time. As the wreck exploded, Max drove away.
In Road Warrior, which takes place at an unspecified time after the first one, but it was said it was around 5 years after, Pursuit Special suffered from the effects of the dessert: it lacked the bottom end of the front bumper, the car itself was incredibly rusty (the Weiand supercharger was also rusty but still functional), and the tires appeared to be in a poor state. The car itself was upgraded by Max: he removed the rear window and the boot-lid, and installed two huge fuel tanks, which could be filled by more than 150 L (40 US gal) of petrol (although they were near empty at the beginning of the first movie), in order to improve the endurance of the car. The car didn't see much action: it appeared in the beginning of the movie, where Max escaped Lord Humungus' raiders led by Wez, and when Max rescued two members of an oil rig settlement and brought them back, they died, and as such, Max was detained on suspicion that he was one of the raiders, and his car was taken away. Max volunteered to bring a semi-trailer truck to the colony in exchange for being released and his fuel tanks to be filled with gasoline. However, when Max fulfilled his task, the colony's leader tried to convince him to stay, but eventually he allowed him to leave. As he left the settlement, he was ambushed by Wez and his car was destroyed.
After being absent from the third movie, Pursuit Special returned in Fury Road. It was shown very briefly, having being driven by Max before it was destroyed by Immortan Joe's men. It was repaired by his men, repainted silver, and used as one of the vehicles. During a chase, where Furiosa and Max were escaping in her War Rig from Immortan Joe's men, his men, driving in the Pursuit Special, appeared next to him. Max violently exclaimed "That's mine!", and one of the men climbed on the hood, took sips of gasoline and spat it into the supercharger to increase the speed. Max did the same in order to increase the War Rig's speed and they engaged in a bizarre spitting contest. In the end, Pursuit Special was crushed by two trucks colliding in it.
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- Mad Max Movies – The most comprehensive Mad Max site online. Includes extensive information on the vehicles used in all three movies.
- Mad Max Replica Stats – Displays a comprehensive list of all known Mad Max Replicas in the world.
- MadMaxCar.com – An extensive look into a Mad Max Pursuit Special replica project that spanned nearly 5 years.
- Mad Max Online – Home to the original Mad Max movie, maintained by members of the cast and crew.
- Dezer museum - Home of the original Pursuit Special
- Mad Max Photo Archive - Discussion of the two types of Pursuit Specials seen in "Mad Max," including a script excerpt.