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The Pursuit Special, also referred to as the V8 Interceptor, is the iconic black police interceptor used by the fictional Main Force Patrol in the Mad Max film series. The vehicle appears in the first two films, was absent from the third movie (it was portrayed as destroyed in Mad Max 2), and was re-introduced for the fourth installment in the series.
The first car shown in the film with the title Pursuit Special is a Holden Monaro coupe stolen and driven by the escaped criminal, the Night Rider. The more famous Pursuit Special is a modified 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. Within this storyline, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is offered the black Pursuit Special, referred to as a V8 Interceptor, as an incentive to stay on the force as their top pursuit man after he reveals his desire to quit. Although Max turns the offer down, he later uses the black car to exact his revenge on an outlaw motorcycle gang who killed his wife and child.
The vehicle started out as a standard white 351 cu in (5.8 L) 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe when in 1976, film makers Byron Kennedy and George Miller began pre-production on Mad Max. The movies art director Jon Dowding designed the Interceptor and commissioned Melbourne based car customizers Graf-X to modify the GT Falcon. Peter Arcadipane, Ray Beckerley, John Evans and painter Rod Smythe transformed the car as specified for the film.
The main modifications are the black paint scheme as well as roof and boot spoilers, wheel arch flares, front nose cone and air-dam designed by Arcadipane (marketed as the "Concorde" style). There were also eight individual exhaust side pipes and a non-functional supercharger protruding through the bonnet. Research conducted by Bob Fursenko, the original restorer of the vehicle after Mad Max 2, indicated that it was powered by an electric motor, others stated it was driven by the air-conditioning compressor, both controlled by a red pull switch on the gear stick. Typically, functional superchargers are driven constantly by the engine and cannot be switched on and off as portrayed in the first two Mad Max films.
At the completion of filming, the producers could not pay all the creditors so the black Interceptor was passed on to part time actor and motor mechanic Murray Smith who was contracted to service and modify the car for high speed filming. The blower and side-pipes were removed to make it suitable for use as a standard road going vehicle and then it was used as a promotional car for the film before finally being put up for sale.
Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior)
In the meantime, the low budget Australian film had gained worldwide success, prompting a sequel, Mad Max 2. For the film, the Pursuit Special was reacquired by Kennedy and Miller.
The rear wheels and side-pipes were changed. For the second film the original Weiand blower, which was removed and subsequently lost, was replaced. Unlike in Mad Max, this time the supercharger was functional (connected directly to the engines crankshaft pulley) and the effect of the blower being engaged or disengaged was created by placing the vehicle on a low loader and while in motion, the interceptors engine was simply started or stopped. The car was cosmetically modified for the new post-apocalyptic setting with the addition of a pair of large cylindrical fuel tanks fitted in the rear (requiring the back window and boot-lid to be removed) and its general appearance was given a more used look by painting the vehicle in matte rather than gloss black. The front end was also modified by removing the air-dam. A duplicate car was also put together for Mad Max 2. When the script required it to be destroyed by rolling down an embankment and eventually exploding, the duplicate interceptor was used, leaving the original vehicle intact.
Disposal and restoration
When production was completed the intact Pursuit Special was sold to a wrecking yard in Broken Hill, along with other wrecks from the movie. In the mid-eighties the car was rescued by Bob Fursenko who restored the Interceptor by having a new nose cone and air-dam fitted but retaining the fuel tanks from Mad Max 2. Fursenko confirmed the vehicles authenticity with Kennedy Miller studios. It was subsequently shown widely in Australia before being sold by Fursenko and shipped to the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in England, where it stayed until its closure in 2011. It was then re-located in the Dezer Car Museum in Miami, Florida, USA.
Mad Max: Fury Road
While the Pursuit Special did not appear in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the vehicle was resurrected for the fourth film in the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller stated that "all the vehicles are kind of hybrid, cobbled together, from the wrecks of the past." The vehicle only features briefly in the film; it is captured along with Max in the pre-title sequence, and is shown being repaired by a group of Immortan Joe's followers. It returns during the climactic battle, being driven by a War Boy, only to be crushed in between two larger vehicles. Miller also alluded in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that Fury Road is not a reboot or a sequel, stating that "the films are loosely connected."