Heavy Metal Affliction - 1973 Ford XA Falcon
Whether it is the story of a post-apocalyptic world gone mad, the intensity of the characters, or the vicious car and motorcycle battles that drive us to love the Mad Max movies, one thing is for sure: there is an appeal that makes them timeless.
With the latest film in the series, Mad Max: Fury Road, the first in thirty years, a new generation is about to learn of one of film’s greatest antiheroes and the world of chaos he endures. From the trailer and reviews it is apparent no expense was spared to be true to the action, suspense and horror of the original films. Fury Road hits theaters worldwide this weekend; prepare to be awed.
As the hype of the movie’s release intensified, I was made aware of a local business that builds replicas of Mad Max and other movie cars. Turn 10 originally engaged with Mad Max Cars to capture the details of an all-original 1973 Ford XB Falcon GT they own for use in for Forza Motorsport 4. At the time, the majority of their business was importing the Australian muscle car of Mad Max fame to the States.
“After a few years simply importing these cars,” Troy McClure of Mad Max cars said, “one of our clients inevitably asked if we could build a Mad Max replica from one of the stock XB Falcons.” Over the years, Mad Max Cars has built roughly 35-40 XB and XA Falcons to different specs. Some clients go all the way for the full-on, blown Mad Max Pursuit Interceptor, as seen in this reveal video.
Some clients want simpler builds, some want to finish the project themselves. It all comes down to budget and time. More simply put, as Grease Rat from the original Mad Max says, "Speed's just a question of money. How fast you wanna go?"
The build techniques Mad Max Cars use are straight out of the aerospace industry. They were inspired to build their own molds due to the lack of quality in the body kits that were available. The nose, roof wing, rear spoiler and fender flares are integrated so cleanly with the Falcon’s body, they look straight from the factory.
A complete Pursuit Interceptor can easily reach into the six-figure range but for a supercharged, fully restored, right-hand drive Australian movie replica car, it makes sense for the hardcore Mad Max fan. There is an entire subculture that lives and breathes the details of the epic cult films. Owning a replica car is one of the highest levels of commitment to show your love of the movies.
One of the largest events for fans of the post-apocalyptic world is Wasteland Weekend which takes place annually in a remote section of the California desert. The event has evolved into a four-day, fully-immersive event with around a thousand attendees in full costume. “Wastelanders,” as they are called, show up in exacting replica cars, bring their own futuristic inventions, and conduct movie reenactments to truly get their “Mad Max” on.
Dee Vyper of Mad Max Cars has built the XA Bat from The Road Warrior. It is driven by Berserker Bad Cop. Vyper wears the full costume for the event. When Vyper and McClure arrived with the XA Bat the year of its debut, “We heard a rising cheer swell across the grounds as we approached the gate into the event,” Vyper said. The pair and the car were welcomed like family. “Everywhere you turn,” Vyper said, “The look of the people and place is like a bunch of nomad holocaust survivors gathered for a tribal meeting in the middle of nowhere.”
The XA Bat still has dust all over the interior from last year’s Wasteland Weekend; a trophy of sorts showing Vyper’s appreciation of the event.
If you are old enough, it’s likely you can still remember the way you felt after seeing the Mad Max movies in the theater back in 1979 to 1981 when the first two films came out. The opening scene of The Road Warrior is intense and I have to agree with Vyper, it is the most memorable scene from the series.
When Vyper first saw The Road Warrior and the Pursuit Interceptor, “everything changed forever.” Vyper said, “At a little over 12 years old, I already HAD to have that car.” Although nobody really knew what kind of car it was. After all, it’s not like you could just jump on IMDB.com back then and look up movie facts. Via car magazines and Auto Trader ads, Vyper decided a Mustang Mach One was the closest he could figure. It wasn’t long after that he and his brother brought one home. He still has the car today.
Through his interest in the Mad Max films, Vyper befriended McClure and they have worked together to build the business of Mad Max Cars. When the time came for Vyper to dive head first into his own build, he chose the XA Bat to replicate. It remains to be the only one in existence.
Aside from the obvious movie authentic modifications, the car, a 1973 XA Falcon, is mostly original throughout. The 351 Cleveland was taken from a donor Falcon. As you can imagine, the car turns heads everywhere it goes. Recently, it was part of the Fury Road pre-screening exhibit along with a fully authentic Pursuit Interceptor.
Since the movie trailers for Fury Road have come out, Mad Max Cars phones and e-mail have been blowing up with inquiries from potential customers and media. The business and its cars have been featured in a recent Evening Magazine TV feature and covered in the Wall Street Journal and in the Velocity series “Junkyard Empire.”
With the latest Mad Max film introducing a slew of crazy post-apocalyptic rides for fans to dream of owning, Mad Max Cars is ready to build anything their customers want. Although if it were left to Vyper, “I would like to see us get to build the ‘Gigahorse,’ the double-bodied 1959 Cadillac with two supercharged V8s connected by a planetary gear sitting on a monster-truck chassis and sporting a four-bladed cow catcher.”
They have already received an order to build the new Fury Road version of the Pursuit Interceptor. When you consider the passion these guys have for everything Mad Max, there is no doubt when it’s finished it will be the pride and joy of its owner and continue to make new fans of the movies for generations to come.
Here is a brief video with the XA Bat flexing its muscles and the sound of the roof-high zoomie side pipes.
Photo credit to Benjamin Hoffman for the photo used in the home page placement, thumbnail and HMA header.
Photo credit to Bill Brown for the photo of the Mad Max cars at the Fury Road pre-screening.