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Rare Spares’ Automotive Movie Guide – 5 of our Favourites!

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category.  What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a homegrown production. Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked.  Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about as simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on. It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years of delighting audiences. It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”.  But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans”. Takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time. Number five features a product of Ford. Debate was heavy as to whether it was the Mustang called Eleanor, or a different hi-po machine wearing the Blue Oval badge. Ultimately it was another Steve McQueen film that won this intense battle and the honour of number five goes to a film that has an unbroken street-based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four-speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt” Tell us via our social media links what your top five films are? Is there a “Fast and Furious” in there, perhaps a different Mad Max film? We’d love to know your thoughts and feedback here at Rare Spares.   

The real star of Mad Max, the V8 Interceptor

It’s that time of year again when the red carpet film awards, with their glitz, glamour, exotic locations and even more exotic stars of the big screen, come to a small screen near you. One of these films, an iconic Australian movie about a bloke called Max, has not only been nominated for many of these awards, but has also taken home a host of trophies. That film of course is Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth instalment in the Mad Max franchise. But it’s the first couple of films that put Max on the map with heart throb Mel Gibson. The real star of the show though was Max’s Ford XB GT Coupe, the “last of the V8 Interceptors!” Born in Melbourne in 1973, Max’s XB looked very different to what it became as it roamed the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Originally it was just a standard polar white XB Coupe until 1976 when George Miller and Byron Kennedy needed a mean looking muscle car for their new movie. Crew member Murray Smith was given the job to find it and with help from Jon Dowding and the team at Graf-X, modified it to a movie star spec. First, it was painted black with matte black stripes. Ford Australia’s Peter Arcadipane designed the Concorde front and a supercharger was added, although this was only for effect. It actually sat high above the engine and was powered by a 12 volt motor. Flared wheel arches, spoilers and four exhaust pipes a side were added. After filming was complete, Smith became the XB’s owner because the producers couldn’t afford to pay him! The side pipes were removed along with the blower and the car went back to being ‘normal’ along with attending car shows and shopping centre forecourts. A ‘For Sale’ sign went up for this soon to become icon, but not one buyer could be found! Meanwhile, Mad Max had become so popular both here and overseas, the producers wanted to make a sequel so the car was eventually bought back for the next movie, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. This time, two huge tanks were installed in the rear along with the return of the side pipes and blower, although the whereabouts of the originals aren’t known. And to give it that apocalyptic look, it was covered in special effects dust. For good reason, a ‘stunt double’ Interceptor was produced for the driving shots while the original was used for the close ups. Like all good stunt doubles, it was also the one that got blown up at the end of the second movie, while the star looked on in complete safety. The Director had barely yelled “Cut!” to end the second movie when the intact original was once again thrown to the scrap heap, literally. It was picked up by a Broken Hill dealer, ending up at the scrap yard of Ray Evans where it quietly remained for a few years until film buff Bob Fursenko saw it and eventually bought it. Franklin Side Crash Restorers was given the job to bring the old girl back to life, which cost $25,000, a considerable sum in the 1980s. To help pay its way, the XB hit the exhibition trail, the first one being The Launceston Show where fans paid $1 to get a glimpse of the famous movie car. Eventually loaned to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia, it was bought by an English collector and shipped to the Cars of the Stars Museum in the UK. It was subsequently sold again in 2011 to its current owner where it proudly sits and waits in the Dezer Car Museum in Miami, Florida, until one day hopefully, it will be sold once more and shipped back to its rightful home.