|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. It appears in the first, second, and fourth films of the series; it is absent from the third.
The first car shown in the film with the title Pursuit Special is a 1972 HQ Holden Monaro V8 coupe stolen and driven by the escaped criminal, the Night Rider. The more famous Pursuit Special is a modified 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. 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 resign. 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.
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 movie's art director Jon Dowding designed the Interceptor and commissioned Melbourne based car customizers Graf-X International 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 non-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 push-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 road vehicle. It was then 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 the the first film, this time the supercharger was functional (connected directly to the engine's 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 interceptor's engine was simply started or stopped. 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 the film. 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. The GT Falcon was then onsold to another wrecker in South Australia and 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 vehicle's authenticity with Kennedy Miller. 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 to 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 returned 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 opening sequence, and is shown being repaired by a group of Immortan Joe's followers. It returns in the final battle, driven by one of the War Boys, only to be crushed between two larger vehicles. When asked in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter if Fury Road is a reboot or sequel, George Miller implied that it may not be, saying that "the films are loosely connected." However, the comic book prequel to the film, for which Miller received a story credit, places it after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
In the movies, Pursuit Specials were unique, 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 1972 HQ model Holden Monaro, which was rusty and used. It was stolen by Nightrider, a member of a motorcycle gang called The Zed Runners (also known as The Acolytes - led by Toecutter), 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, more 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 had been thinking of retirement. Max first refused the offer, but when Max's family was murdered, he went to the MFP's Halls Of Justice, 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 Toecutter's gang, save from Bubba Zanetti, whom he shot dead, and Johnny The Boy, whom he cuffed to a wrecked car 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 Mad Max 2, which takes place roughly five years after the events of the previous film, the Pursuit Special suffered from the effects of the dessert: it lacked the bottom end of the front bumper, the car was rusty and the tires appeared to be in a poor state. The car itself had been modified 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, 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.
The Pursuit Special returned in Mad Max: Fury Road. It was shown very briefly, having been driven by Max before it was destroyed by Immortan Joe's men. It was repaired by Joe's War Boys, taken back to bare metal, giving it a silver appearance and used as one of their vehicles (called "Razor Cola"). During a chase, where Furiosa and Max were escaping in the War Rig from Immortan Joe's men, the Pursuit Special appeared next to them. One of the War Boys climbed onto the car's hood, took sips of gasoline, and spat it into the supercharger to increase its speed. Max did the same so that the War Rig could keep pace with the smaller vehicle. The Pursuit Special was destroyed after being crushed by two larger trucks.
- Muscle car (Australia)
- Ford Falcon GT
- Ford Falcon (Australia)
- Police Interceptor Sedan
- Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
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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