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.