Max Rockatansky’s cars define the world of George Miller’s Mad Max movies like starships do for Star Trek, and pirate ships do for Jack Sparrow. Miller found a winning formula with the first film in 1979, which built its world of a lawless countryside and crumbling society by making them the backdrops for thrilling highway battles. Modestly funded though it was (Miller famously moonlighted as an ER doctor to raise cash), the original Mad Max mustered several memorable, custom-built rides for the onscreen action.
Mad Max movies’ cars only got wilder in the sequels as budgets grew and stories moved to post-apocalyptic hellscapes. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior stunned moviegoers with an unprecedented fleet of specially-designed combat vehicles that fought elaborate, nitrous-fueled wars along desolate roads. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome set more of its story away from highways, but it still delivered more extreme machines in its final act. For Mad Max: Fury Road, the production team took 15 years to design and build a 150-machine armada that outdid the earlier chapters by yet another order of magnitude. Here’s every car driven by Max Rockatansky in the Mad Max franchise.
MFP Yellow Interceptor (Mad Max)
Max Rockatansky drove a yellow, red, and blue 1974 Ford Falcon XB Sedan when audiences met him at the beginning of the Mad Max timeline. It was one of three Ford Falcons marked as patrol cars for the Main Force Patrol, and it had previously been a real patrol car for the Victoria police force. It had a 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8 engine. Max’s yellow Interceptor was one of the few cars that wasn’t wrecked, either onscreen or off.
The Rockatansky Family Wagon (Mad Max)
The Rockatansky family’s personal vehicle was a custom 1975 Holden HJ Sandman Panel Van. The front end was replaced with an HJ Caprice with Ford headlights. The vehicle had a custom mural painted on the right side but not on the left, which is why its left side hardly appeared onscreen.
The Rockatanskys’ panel van took them on their final vacation. The family car tragically broke down as Jessie and Sprog tried to flee the unforgettable Toecutter and his gang, which set the stage for their murder in the middle of the road. It was the setting for Max’s last happy days, as well as the devastating loss that changed him forever.
The Last Of The V8 Interceptors, aka the Pursuit Special (All Movies Except Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome)
Max’s black V8 Interceptor is as closely associated with the Mad Max franchise as the Australian desert, and it appeared in all the films except for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. It was a heavily modified limited version of a 1973 Ford XB Falcon with a GT 351 c.i. Cleveland V8. Miller had originally wanted to use a Mustang, but he changed his mind after realizing that parts for the American-made Mustang would be pricier and harder to find than parts for the Australian-made Falcons.
The Pursuit Special debuted in a garage scene midway through the first installment, and Max stole it from the Halls of Justice following Jessie’s death. After driving the V8 Interceptor into the Wasteland at the close of Mad Max, he was next seen driving it at the beginning of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. The iconic car only made it a bit over halfway through the first sequel before it got destroyed, however, and was altogether absent from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Then, with no onscreen explanation, the V8 Interceptor briefly appeared alongside Tom Hardy’s Max in the opening sequence of Mad Max: Fury Road before the new villains crashed and stole it again. Miller’s 2015 tie-in Mad Max comic series revealed as canon that Max had discovered his restored road machine after Beyond Thunderdome. Miller had a good artistic reason for bringing the beloved car back. Because Fury Road introduced a new lead actor 30 years after the last film, it needed the iconic black V8 Interceptor to establish the setting and reassure viewers they were in the right auditorium. The War Boys modified Max’s car into the Razor Claw and used it against him for the rest of the movie.
The Tanker (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)
Essential to the story and the center of attention in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’s final act, the Tanker was an R-600 Coolpower Mack truck. Max found it overturned in the opening sequence, and the mechanics at the refinery installed a cow catcher front end, steel plate reinforcements, and places for defenders to ride atop the trailer. The Tanker in The Road Warrior happened to be a sand-filled decoy that fooled Max and Humongous’ gang and gave the school bus time to escape with the gas. The sham of the Tanker’s fuel drove home the empty promise of Max’s future in the wasteland and his endless search for gasoline.
The Camel Wagon In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome opened with Max driving a team of camels to pull his makeshift wagon, an out-of-gas Ford F-150 chassis customized with the cab of a Ford Falcon XA Sedan. The Falcon XA cab was taken from one of the yellow Interceptors in the original film. The third film is the only one not to include Max’s black V8 Interceptor at all, and the omission might help explain why Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome had such a tepid reception.
Many moviegoers, excited for more of what they loved about The Road Warrior, felt let down by the camel’s pace of the opening act. Bartertown’s mechanics retrofitted the truck to run on methane in the second act, and Max manages plenty of mayhem with it by the end of the movie, but the Camel Wagon played no part in Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Cow Car In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Max commandeered this enigma of a custom build in the final chase sequence of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. He used it to ram Ironbar’s Harpoon vehicle and push him toward the Rail Truck. Little is known about this car, and it was destroyed in the 1990s along with other vehicles from the third movie.
The War Rig (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Max lost his black V8 Interceptor to Immortan Joe’s soldiers early on in Mad Max: Fury Road, but eventually bound his fate to Furiosa and her massive War Rig soon after escaping from the War Boys. The War Rig, the centerpiece of the film, was a custom six-wheel-drive 18-wheeler mobile fortress based on a Czech-built Tatra T815. The filmmakers actually built three fully functional War Rigs, two with stock 275 horsepower Tatra V8s. The third was refitted with a 500 horsepower Tatra racing engine in place of the stock V8, which lacked the power necessary to haul the War Rig’s massive tankers and other add-ons.
All three War Rigs had extensively customized cabs, augmented in the rear with widened cabs from late-1940s Chevrolet Fleetmaster sedans. The enlarged cab seated at least six and had a hidden compartment under the floor that had room for at least another three people to secret themselves away from Immortan Joe. Furiosa’s mobile fortress was heavily armed, with ten firearms in the cab alone. The gearshift handle was a removable chrome skull that concealed a dagger. Most of the film unfolded in or around the Imperator’s War Rig.
Immortan Joe’s Gigahorse (Fury Road)
Max only drives this custom creation at the end of Fury Road to bring Furiosa back to the Citadel. The body consisted of two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes welded one atop the other for a flagship befitting the highest commander. The chassis was custom-built, as was its powerful drivetrain. Max carried Furiosa triumphantly on the final leg of her journey for freedom and hope, in the supreme leader’s car right back to the Citadel, where it started. It was a striking touch that reinforced how her return amid the cheering masses was the first real hope she ever knew.