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Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe 1973 "V8 Interceptor"

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"How the hell did you get all this together?"

"[It] just happened Max, you know - A piece from here and a piece from there."  



The V8 Interceptor, also known as a Pursuit Special, is driven by Max Rockatansky at the end of Mad Max and for the first half of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. It is based on a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT coupe, which was modified to become a police interceptor by the Main Force Patrol. The vehicle also makes an appearance in Mad Max: Fury Road and is later modified into an off-road bare metal version called the Razor Cola.

Note: Plot Spoilers Below

Mad Max

"She's the last of the V8s!" - MFP Mechanic.

The V8 Interceptor is first seen in the MFP vehicle garage.  The mechanic, Barry, and Goose use the interceptor to attempt to convince Max to remain on the force.  Unlike most other MFP vehicles which are yellow and have roof-mounted police lights, the Interceptor is entirely black, save for a few gold MFP decals.  According to Barry, the Interceptor has a dual overhead cam engine, and thanks to the blower, makes 600 horsepower at the wheels. 

After Max's family is killed by Toecutter 's gang, Max retrieves the Interceptor and uses it to track down and eliminate members of Toecutter's gang and Toecutter himself, as well as Johnny the Boy.  Max then drives off into the wasteland.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Two years after the events of Mad Max, Max is still using the V8 Interceptor as
V8 interceptor 3
his primary vehicle, which also likely serves as his home.  The vehicle had, by this time, been modified (presumably by Max) to make it more suitable for traveling the wastelands, having larger fuel tanks installed in the rear, as well as at least one 'booby trap' to prevent the vehicle's fuel from being stolen.

The V8 Interceptor is seen in the very beginning of the film, when Wez and other marauders are pursuing Max.  Max uses the car's supercharger sparingly, so as to conserve fuel.  At the opportune moment, he activates it, ramming a vehicle in front of him, while also destroying the Interceptor's aerodynamic front shroud.  

Max later learns of the refinery from the gyrocopter pilot and, in need of fuel, travels toward it.  He covers the Interceptor with a camouflage cover while observing the refinery survivors attempting to flee from Humungus ' men who surround the refinery.  

When confronting the survivors in the refinery, Max is taken captive and the Interceptor is towed into the compound, where the paraplegic mechanic manages to deactivate the explosive trap.  In order to get the Interceptor back, Max leaves to retrieve a vehicle capable of pulling the survivors' tanker trailer.
Mm ford falcon rw

The Interceptor being towed.

After successfully doing so, Max refills the car's fuel tanks and sets out.  However, Humungus' men follow him, and with the aid of their truck's nitrous oxide system, manage to catch up with the interceptor and smash a window, causing the Interceptor to crash.

When the Toadie attempts to open the Interceptor's fuel tanks, the booby trap is activated, causing a massive explosion.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This Interceptor is captured by the War Boys and heavily modified to handle the rugged terrain. The body work has been bashed back into shape after being rolled, with the bodykit being remade in steel to match the exterior bodywork that is stripped off to bare metal, another supercharger is stacked with a skull on top of it. Rear suspension is lifted, rear fender wells are enlarged to accommodate the large 37" off-road tyres. The back of the car now gives space to a weapon and a tank. The interior is also stripped of it's original falcon dash and replaced with a basic sheet metal instrument panel. This vehicle is dubbed "Razor Cola" and is seen driven most notably by Slit. "Razor Cola" meets its demise between The War Rig and The People Eater's Limousine in a fiery explosion.

Development of the Vehicle(s) Used in the Films

Mad Max

The Last of the V8 Interceptors also known as a "Pursuit Special" (although it is only briefly called by this name by the radio voice of the female dispatcher in the film) is the car built to convince Max to stay on the force but instead is used to carry out vengeance.

Original concept

In 1976, film makers Bryon Kennedy and George Miller began pre-production on Mad Max.[1] Byron Kennedy and George Miller had budgeted $350,000 for their film, including a mere $20,000 for props and vehicles, and a paltry $5000 to keep those vehicles on the road. The climax of the film was to feature a super-hot pursuit car, known at this point only as the Pursuit Special. A year later, funding in hand, work commenced on the cars. The task of designing the Pursuit Special was given to the movie's art director - Jon Dowding. The initial designs for the feature car were highly stylised and futuristic, with spoilers to the roof and boot, flares on the wheel arches, and a modified front end. The original design was based on a modified Ford Mustang, and for a brief moment that is what Max was going to drive.[2]

A change in plans

Murray Smith was hired early on as the film's main mechanic and part of the film crew responsible for servicing and modifying vehicles, including the V8 Interceptor. His opinion on using a foreign Mustang was that it would be difficult to find parts for that car and it had to be functional enough to perform high speed stunts. It was almost certain that repairs would be required and the foreign Mustang would be too much for this low-budget production so it was decided that Australian Fords would be used instead. It was the height of the van craze in Australia and the production crew spotted Monza front ends for Holdens which could be modified to fit the Ford Falcon and achieve the look they were aiming for.

The purchase of vehicles

Next stop was a car auction in Frankston, Vic. Three Australian exclusive cars were purchased for less than $20,000 — two ex-Victorian police Ford Falcon V8 XB sedans and a white 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT coupe that’d been repossessed in the Dandenong area. The sedans became Big Boppa and Max’s Yellow Interceptor, while the GT would become the Last of the V8 Interceptors.

The donor vehicle

The 'soon to be' black Interceptor started its life in November 1973 as the Ford Falcon XB GT hardtop in Polar White. The vehicle was ordered by Rural Motors in Orange, NSW. The car's VIN reveals that the vehicle came with a 351ci Cleveland V8 engine. It had black vinyl interior, a two-tone (white and black) bonnet, laminated windscreen and the ubiquitous optioned seatbelts. It was one of the last 86 imported big-port US 4V engined/top loader-equipped GT hardtops built by Ford Australia. Only six of these were in Polar White.

Graf-X International

After the purchase, the movie's art director Jon Dowding contacted the now defunct vehicle enhancement specialist company Graf-X International in Melbourne. Ray Beckerley - Graf-X's general manager took the task and along with Alan Hempel, John Evans and painter Rod Smythe began transforming the car according to Jon Dowding's vision.

"He told me he wanted the black car to look evil, it had to look different; and [the paint finish] had to be both gloss black and matt black. And that was about the extent of the brief'

- Ray Beckerley

Concorde front end

The coupe was to get a Monza front but it turned out that similar fronts were being built to suit Fords by Peter Arcadipane, then still a designer working for Ford. The original Concorde front end concept was designed for a high-performance aerodynamic Falcon GT coupe much like the long-nose Plymouth Superbird for NASCAR. Unfortunately, Peter was not allowed to create a Concorde end for a GT. In secrecy, however he built a concept Panel Van instead that had a very positive response from the Ford management. The van was driven by Peter himself[3] and displayed at the 1977 Melbourne Motor show with a custom front end strongly influenced by the slightly earlier HPF Firenza. The front end was later marketed as the "Concorde" style and it caught Ray Beckerley’s eye. Ray contacted - then former - Ford stylist, Arcadipane to give the car's the Concrode front end treatment as seen on the concept panel van from 1977.

Customization
Supercharger

Ray Beckerley, Murray Smith along with Peter Arcadipane and various others, proceeded to modify the car to what was needed for the film. First the Weiand supercharger was fitted with a Scott Super Slot injector and fuel pump assembly. George Miller insisted that the every inch of the supercharger be exposed, which resulted in simply mounting it one foot above the engine, on top of the air cleaner. The supercharger had to be driven by 12v electric motor and was obviously not functional. Eight individual exhaust side pipes were added.

Fiberglass work

The fibreglass nose was fitted in Peter Arcadipane’s workshop while the rear and roof spoilers were the work of Errol Platt at Purvis Fibreglass Products. The spoilers were actually taken out of Bob Jane’s HQ Monaro Sports Sedan moulds. It didn’t take a lot to make them fit, just a little bit of grinding, some Sikaflex and bog. It was Ray's idea to include a roof spoiler after looking at the car from the side. The design was visually appealing, but aerodynamically useless. The flares were cut-down Holden A9X flares that were put underneath the mouldings and then all moulded in by Rod Smythe and his brother.

Paint scheme

The paint scheme was described as "Black on Black" by the movie’s art director, Jon Dowding. Ray interpreted it as gloss and matt black similar to the factory XB GT design, differing only in swooping up from the rear wheel arch to follow the line of the rear spoiler. The paint was done by Rob Smythe, Beckerley's friend from a former place of employment.

Wheels

The original chrome rims from the XB GT were installed on Max's Yellow XB Sedan Interceptor. The wheels on the Pursuit Special were painted black.

Conclusion of Graf-X's work

The car took three months to be prepared at Graf-X and the crew offered the builders royalties from the movie, but they declined. In fact, the movie's creators had so little money the Graf-X staff had to put fuel in the car so they could drive off. The crew building the Pursuit Special were skeptical of the movie and they did not think it would be a success. They specialized, however in different looking designs with no money in them, so they carried on and finished the vehicles for the movie and had a lot of fun working on them. Beckerley remembers taking his three daughters to netball in the vehicles he created. A lot more work was done to the Pursuit Special after it left his hands.[4]

Murray Smith's involvement

The Pursuit Special was then handed over to Murray Smith - one of the movie's three main mechanics - to undergo modification that would help in filming high speed chases. Murray had previous experience from his hot rodding days and helped set up the front geometry of the Pursuit Special to go in a straight line when filming. Murray also doubled as a stunt driver after the initial two weeks of filming with main actors and was a double for Bubba Zinnetti for all the bike scenes.

Post Mad Max

Mad-max-interceptor-and-goose-bike-1979-hot-rod-show

Pursuit Special at 1979 Melbourne Hot Rod Show

Following the production of Mad Max in 1978, the car was given to mechanic Murray Smith as settlement for unpaid work. The vehicle consumed too much fuel ($10 in petrol to drive to work and back each day) so Murray Smith decided to sell it for merely $7500. There were no takers, however. Murray Smith removed the supercharger and side exhaust pipes, but left the Concorde front end, which broke a couple of times because it was installed so low. It was then toured around Melbourne to shopping centers, car shows and so on as part of the promotion done for the film. With the success the film achieved on release, the producers decided to buy the car back, for a sequel.


Mad Max 2

After being re-acquired by Kennedy Miller for the second film, the rear wheels, supercharger and pipes were changed.[5] The car was further modified to fit the setting of the new film, with large petrol tanks fitted in the back, and its general appearance given a more used and stressed look. The front end was also modified by removing the bottom section to give more clearance for the outback locations it was required to be driven in. The front of the car was in fact broken off early in the film during a chase scene. As well as modifying the original car, a duplicate car was also put together for Mad Max 2.

It was a much rougher January 1974-built Fairmont Coupe automatic originally yellow in color. It was used for most of the wide shots and stunt work while the original car was used for all the close ups and interior shots. The duplicate was rolled several times for its roll sequence until the right shot was caught on tape (stress marks are visible on the car in the movie). The duplicate was later blown up and its remains were salvaged by a local Broken Hill resident.

Post Mad Max 2

After destroying the duplicate car, the remaining original car was set be scrapped. Although it was supposed to meet its demise, the new 'owner' was reluctant to destroy this important car. Instead it was put up for sale yet again, but failed to be sold. It was then passed onto a colleague, Ray Evans from Adelaide. The car then sat outside of Ray Evans' scrap yard for more than three years and was the subject of much interest. When a great fan of this film series, Bob Fursenko spotted the car, he realized he had to have it, and after negotiations, Bob became the Falcon's new owner. Bob recalled the car was not in too bad a condition. The front end was smashed, as seen in the film, but generally the car was sound.[6]

Restoration

The car went to Franklin Side Crash Restorers where Tony and Mario Romero went to work on it. A number of months and $25k AUD later the car was complete. It was restored to its original former glory, but retaining the tanks fitted in the sequel. Eventually Bob located Murray Smith and managed to get a number of photos of the car with its registration number still fitted at the Kennedy Miller studios, and obtained confirmation that this was in fact the original car which Murray had built. Bob also obtained photos and information from Ray Evans confirming the car's authenticity. The car was proven to be authentic by Murray Smith's initials scratched behind the interior trim of the door.

Cars of the Stars Motor Museum

By the early 1990s Mad Max hysteria had passed and the car was on display in the Birdwood Motor Museum in Adelaide. Bob decided he’d done everything he wanted with the car and put it up for sale. Yet again there were no takers. Finally car collector Peter Nelson heard of its whereabouts. He runs the Cars Of The Stars Motor Museum in the UK, and has an extensive collection of movie cars. He’d long had the Interceptor high on his wish-list and at a car rally in Germany in 1992 he heard it was available. After contacting Bob and verifying that the car was the real deal, he shipped it to the UK.

To Peter, the Interceptor is much more than just another film car.

“This car was the most important car, I felt, to a country. Some people would say Mad Max is probably one of the most important Australian films.” “I like the styling. It suits the film perfectly, and it made a great presence within the film.”

It used to reside in Peter’s museum, and people traveled from around the world to see it. It was sold to Miami Auto Museum in Florida, USA. in 2011[7]

Miami Auto Museum

Currently the original V8 Interceptor resides at the Miami Auto Museum, Florida.[8] Unfortunately the car is in poor condition.

Fury Road

Fury Road's Interceptor is a variation on the original Black On Black and is later modified into the Bare metal Interceptor. It was to be in the opening scene to give an instant link back to the original movies, but it was not supposed to be the same car, so it was given some deliberate but subtle changes, many to give the car a much more weathered and beaten appearance.

The build

The construction of the Fury Road Interceptor began in February 2003. Scott Smith received a call to supply parts for a set of new Interceptors. The parts consisted of fiberglass fronts, blower assembles and everything else needed for that version of Fury Road. The amount of parts would be enough for 4 Interceptors. Three Interceptors were then shipped to Namibia. When the movie production was halted, two Interceptors were sold off in Africa and one Interceptor was brought back and put in storage until it was needed again. This version of the interceptor starred in the Commonwealth Bank advertisement.

Commonwealth Bank ad, Down Under Anthem01:00

Commonwealth Bank ad, Down Under Anthem

The same car resurfaced in 2009 as the promotional Interceptor with a trimmed bumper and mesh style headlight covers. That vehicle went under Cameron Manewell's wings at the Villawood workshop to undergo modifications and later star in the movie.

Black Interceptor

2 black Interceptors were built for Fury Road, both identical in every aspect. Both cars were originally 302 XB Fairmonts, reasonably rough cars as they were getting more desirable by 2009 and knowing the vehicles needed to look run down there was no need for pristine examples, nor was a genuine GT needed, they just had to be complete and drive-able. The first provided vehicle was originally to be used in Fury Road before the production was halted - this vehicle was stripped to bare shell. The second vehicle was supplied as a complete car and also stripped to the shell to enable simultaneous work on both of the cars.

LastoftheInterceptors

Fury Road Interceptor 2003

Mad-max-fury-road-interceptor-parts

Peter Barton with Scott Smith's parts for the 2003 Interceptors

Cameron Manewell was hired from 2009 to 2010 as a mechanic specifically to construct the Interceptors. Most of the interior, glass and external stainless trim were removed. Body kits were supplied by well known Mad Max fan Scott Smith. Rims were purchased from the same manufacturer who had made them for the original Mad Max 1 Interceptor.

The iconic V8 Interceptor was left to Cameron's own interpretation. Only the finishing touches and cosmetic details such as surface rust were handled by the scenic artists, Max's possessions were added by the set decorators. Cameron followed the guidelines laid by Miller, concept artist - Peter Pound and production designer Collin Gibson. The instructions were basic and required the car to look run down while keeping the iconic V8 Interceptor look. Cameron kept in mind potential replica builders when creating this version of the Interceptor and created it without some of the more valuable parts such as the front windscreen trim which was replaced with a much easier to obtain sedan trim. Another budget modification was hthe removal of the stainless elements from doors.

One of the changes that Cameron fought against was the removal of one of the headlights. He thought that the car would look more worn down with the Perspex cover but with a smashed hole in it. After a few attempts at recreating the desired smashed pattern he collected 5 broken headlight covers that matched the best and this design made its way into the movie.

The seats in both cars were custom trimmed so a pair from one car was swapped over the rails and wider mechs so that the drivers seat in both cars were identical, the set dressers then covered the seats in leather.

The lack of the rear wing comes from the Mad Max video game tie-in. The production crew asked Collin Manewell if there are any bits and pieces of the car that could be removed and left off as bonus items to be found in the game by the players. He suggested the rear wing, partially because he preferred the car without it. However, Cameron wanted to let everyone know that the rear wing used to be on this car and upon closer inspection there are visible marks in the back of the V8 Interceptor where the wing used to be.

Again the Supercharger was a fake mounted over the top of the air cleaner, but this time it was driven directly from the engine and not from an electric motor. So it was non-switchable (due to no provision for that to be seen in the movie), but being driven directly from the engine, it did rev at the same speed as the engine and with the belt pulled nice and tight it gave a nice authentic blower whine. An authentic throttle cable was also installed that controlled the back of the Scott injector hat. Knowing the vehicle was to be rolled, all 8 zoomie exhaust pipes were also functional.

Both vehicles were fitted up with special effects hardware to enable them to be rolled on command in case both cars were needed to film the roll scene, thankfully the first take was successful and the 2nd car was saved from destruction.

There was also a 3rd Black Interceptor also constructed as a non-running "roll over rig", the base vehicle was an extremely rusty 6 cylinder shell but it was sufficient to mock up externally as a full Interceptor, complete with fake engine and fiberglass 9" housing covering the stock 6 cyl diff.

Bare metal Interceptor  - "Razor Cola"

The "re-birthed" Interceptor, known as Razor Cola, was also constructed by Cameron Manewell, with the steel body kit being the handy work of skilled metal fabricators / panel beaters Mark Natoli and Paul Nolan.

Again 2 identical vehicles were built. Both base cars were supplied by Cameron, one being an XB the other an XC (that was retro fitted with XB panels and other minor mods). One of the base vehicles was already bare metal due to being used as a promotional vehicle for Cameron's automotive sand blasting business. (images can be found on one of the street fords forum a few years ago). The double stacked superchargers were again mounted above the air cleaner, but were both hooked up to the engine and ran at full engine speed. The rear suspension was raised to give an exaggerated racked appearance, the front was also lifted. 

Post Fury Road

Out of two vehicles only the Razor Cola #2 made it back from the production of Fury Road. The #2 being the XB shell provided by Cameron Manewell. This Razor Cola was displayed at various events including the Sydney Opera Mad Max Fury Road Premiere.

Videos

EVOLUTION of the INTERCEPTOR-003:57

EVOLUTION of the INTERCEPTOR-0

What base car was used for the Mad Max Interceptor? Where did the radical body styling come from? What changes were made to the car in the second film Mad Max the Road Warrior? These questions and more are answered in this video.

References

  1. http://madmaxmovies.com/mad-max-interceptor/index.html
  2. http://www.streetmachine.com.au/features/1505/the-real-story-of-the-mad-max-xb-gt/
  3. http://www.streetmachine.com.au/features/1505/plastic-surgeon-%E2%80%93-peter-arcadipane/
  4. Australian Muscle Car magazine Issue 81 2015
  5. http://www.madmaxmovies.com/mad-max-interceptor/interceptor-history-part-2.html
  6. http://www.madmaxmovies.com/mad-max-interceptor/interceptor-history-part-3.html
  7. http://www.streetmachine.com.au/features/1505/the-real-story-of-the-mad-max-xb-gt/
  8. http://www.dezercollection.com/

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