Mel Gibson was an unknown 23-year-old Australian rookie when director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy, two fellow film students at Melbourne University in the 1970s, cast him in a low budget action film shot partly with money scraped together from working night jobs. Based on a screenplay by James McCausland, it focused on the character Max Rockatansky (Gibson), a highway patrolman fighting to preserve social order in a violent dystopian near-future where fuel supplies are drying up. Primarily shot in the grasslands southwest of Melbourne, the film even used the underground garage at Miller and Kennedy’s old alma mater, Melbourne University, where Rockatansky encounters the black Interceptor for the first time.
Appearing in 1979, Mad Max seemed at first glance to be a classic B-movie grinder flick in the Roger Corman mold. The film’s American distributor was so concerned that U.S. moviegoers wouldn’t understand the Australian accents and slang that the whole film was re-dubbed with voiceover actors for American release. But Mad Max won over audiences and created a cult following for its relentless chase sequences, its brooding characters, its haunting soundtrack, its riveting use of the widescreen anamorphic lens, and, of course, it’s cars. It earned $100 million worldwide on an investment of about $400,000 and was in the Guinness Book of Records for 20 years as having the best cost-profit ratio of any film ever made.
Max's black Main Force Patrol Interceptor featured prominently in the movie was a 1973 Ford Falcon XB hardtop, the sporty coupe version of Ford’s new-for-1972 Australian product line. Originally assembled at Ford’s Broadmeadows plant near Melbourne, the Falcon was modified for the film with an aerodynamic fiberglass nosecone, side-pipes, a roof spoiler, and a mock Weiand supercharger, which was mounted to a pedestal above the 351-cubic-inch V-8 and driven for the film sequences by an electric motor. Murray Smith, Ray Beckerley, and Peter Arcadipane, a Ford designer who originally developed the “Concorde” nosecone for a Ford-Australia show car, modified the Falcon into the Interceptor. After the filming of the first movie it was used for film promotion in Australia, and then put up for sale. But when no buyers were found, it was eventually handed over to Murray Smith, a mechanic on the film.
After the international success of Mad Max, the production of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior began, and the car was purchased back by George Miller for use in the 1981 sequel. The second movie is set a few years after the first, when fuel supplies are virtually non-existent, and the Interceptor has likewise changed, with large fuel tanks replacing the trunk and rear glass. A second car was built up for the filming near the desert town of Broken Hill, Australia and was destroyed during the production. Once shooting was over, the cars were left as scrap at a wrecking yard in Broken Hill with no buyer interested. Eventually the original Interceptor ended up at an Adelaide scrap yard where it was discovered, bought and restored by Bob Forsenko. Years later it was sold again and put on display in the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, England. The museum recently closed and the original matte-black Interceptor is currently in a collection in the Dezer museum in Miami, Florida.
AUTOart launched its 1/18th scale Mad Max 2 Inteceptor die-cast model back in January 2008. Every possible minor detail is replicated, including:
The two surplus fuel tanks in the trunk, jerry cans, and spare tire chained to the car;
The detailed Ford 351 V-8 engine with Weiand supercharger and famous trapezoidal intake scoop;
The red supercharger on-off switch on the gearshift knob;
Additional fuel meter and alarm on the dashboard;
A doll’s head, plus the mount for the flashing police light;
Special dog seat mounted inside of the left door
Special holders and pockets for Max’s machete and shotgun on the right door;
The roll cage;
A hidden machete pocket and a self-destruct bomb and switch at the rear end of the under chassis;
Various accessories, including two machetes, a spare tire with metal chain, and two portable fuel tanks;
Now, after five years in production, AUTOart has launched an upgraded version of the model with the following features:
- The supercharger unit is now cast in metal instead of plastic to give a more realistic texture;
- the side exhaust pipes have been replaced with metal piping;
- the front fascia becomes detachable, so the collector can display the Interceptor as it appears both before and after its crash early in The Road Warrior when it loses its front fascia;
- the front bonnet hinges are multi-link and spring loaded;
- Max’s sawed-off shotgun is included with the weapons.