In 1982, the good people of Broken Hill had their rural idyll shattered by burnouts, high-speed chases and explosions. And they loved it, mainly because it was the Mad Max II crew and were they effectively pushing the remote mining town in the international spotlight.
First published in the November 2002 issue of Street Machine
Then, just as the dust had finally settled, they came back – leather-clad ferals driving stonking V8s, and that was just the fans! They were there for Back 2 the Max, a semi-official 20th anniversary celebration of the movie’s release, and mixed it up with some of the cast and crew from the film in a weekend of all things Max.
Victorian mechanic and Mad Max fanatic Scott Smith and a small band of helpers got the show together to showcase the bunch of Mad Max replica vehicles they’d built, but it almost didn’t happen at all.
“We were planning the event and I was riding in the back of the ute checking out the place and I fell out,” he says. He was incredibly lucky to survive and spent months in hospital with severe head injuries. But it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm and with the help of family and friends, got the show on the road, inviting actors, stuntmen and fans to check out where the landmark Aussie film was made.
And come they did, from all over Australia and even Japan where you can actually buy authentic Mad Max clobber, including an MFP badge and holder! On our arrival we head straight to the Mundi Mundi lookout which is a must for two reasons – first, it was the place where Max rolled the Mack at the climax to Mad Max II and second because we knew we would be treated to one hell of an outback sunset.
We pull up to the lonely peak and find more than a few Max fans chewing the fat. Steve and James are already there, plus a bunch of dudes in a white XB GT sedan and an AU support vehicle with the audio track to movie playing on the stereo! Kinda surreal but the enthusiasm for classic Ford muscle and Mad Max is infectious.
A prime example is Sydney-sider John in his black XC GXL. He looks wired, having driven through the night in one go.
“Yeah, it’s pretty dangerous after dark with all the wildlife,” he says. “I hit an emu before I got to Cobar – instant doona! I’m wrecked, but I just wanted to get here, I couldn’t wait any more.”
The sun is dropping like a stone when we spot our first replica vehicle – a very tired XC Falcon sedan with MFP paintwork containing Barry and his buddies from Melbourne.
“Someone gave us the car for free – they were over the moon to get rid of it!” he says. “We painted the old girl with Bunnings spray cans. The only problem is that the paint washes off in water.”
As the weekend progresses, we meet fans from all over Oz and Japan’s Mamada Satoshi who has made Mad Max his life. He runs a company called MFP Clothing Branch, which makes replicas of uniforms worn by the coppers in Mad Max and even Dinki-Di dog food. A can of the stuff is later auctioned off for $70! That shows plenty of commitment, but not as much as the sheer balls displayed (almost literally) by Cuppo, the six-foot Victorian resplendent in kangaroo-skin undies just like his hero the Feral Kid.
“I found a few mushed roos on the way, so I skinned ’em and took ’em to the local laundromat to clean ’em up. Bob’s your uncle, one cheap costume!”
The Kawarren boys drove up in an MFP replica, cobbled together for $300. According to Cuppo, the build was, “An intensive three year project, most of which was spent talking about doing it. We drove it up here on a six day permit, which was fine till we crossed the border – the NSW highway patrol weren’t very impressed.”
Some delicate negotiations kept their Interceptor on the road but we were interested in a wreck of another kind – the remains of Max’s crashed and burnt coupe rumoured to still be in the area.
“I know where the wreck is, fellas,” he says, and we prepare to be led out to an abandoned mine with boards nailed over the entrance and skull and crossbones warning signs. Instead, we discover the blown-up Interceptor, a VW-powered buggy and the Cobra chop-top F100 neatly on display at a local show pavilion. Dereck Wyness worked as an extra and in set construction on Mad Max II and had the presence of mind to buy the wrecks when filming was complete.
The Interceptor was something of mess, as you would expect. Not only was the car crashed and blown up, but lived outside for many years, suffering at the hands of souvenir hunters.
We don’t know what happened to the truck, but we ran into the guy who rolled it – Mel Gibson’s stunt double Dennis Williams.
“I was working on the film transporting equipment and vehicles,” he says. “I got to know the crew and as there was no-one else capable of driving the truck, I fell into the job. It had a roll cage and a harness, but it was still pretty hairy.
“A lot of legends have sprung up over the years, like I was a truckie rolling through town and was offered a new Mack if I would roll mine or that I was paid $10K for the stunt. I wish!”
Another stuntie, Kim Noyce, did the wheels-up bike action on Mad Max II. “The only time I got hurt on the film was when I was kicked off my bike by a camel. The blasted thing sent me flying across the road with heaps of gravel rash. Very embarrassing!”
The show’n’shine was the last of the official Back 2 the Max activities, so we head out to the Silverton Hotel for an informal gathering of street machiners, Max fans and thirsty locals. With the sun shining and beer flowing, things are peachy, until the natives get a little restless. A local bloke in a blown VN SS lets the rubber fly before heading off in a big hurry. The crowd laps it up, but our boy makes the mistake of returning the scene of the crime where the boys in blue are waiting.
Problem is, there are at least 300 revellers on hand to gather and around and listen in. Fuelled up with the amber fluid and perhaps inspired by a weekend of anti-hero celebration, the crowd moves in and the coppers are looking very uncomfortable. Back up arrives, the ticket is written and the bloke instructed to wait for a tow truck. Situation defused.
Or maybe not. While the crowd is happy to go back to their stubbies and shoot the breeze, the Bronze calls an end to fun and shuts the pub. Ah, well, a battle between authority and anarchy on the highway to round things off. Kinda fitting, really. s
LAST V8 INTERCEPTOR
Like the original Interceptor, Scott’s beast is based on a genuine GT. It’s in full Mad Max II spec, which means it wears long range fuel tanks, stripped interior and no front spoiler. The 351 is topped by a fake supercharger system, made using a Weiand blower and Scott injector hat. Just like the cars used in the movie, Scott’s huffer can be switched on and off. Way cool…
Before Max is given his mighty black coupe, he had a sedan just like this. Alan’s XB was a little old lady 302 special with 90,000 miles on the clock for just $2000. “It had one little patch of rust, but was otherwise perfect. All we need to do now is swap the cloth trim for vinyl like the had in the movie and fit a 351 so I can keep up with Scott!”
Don’t remember the twin turbo Landau from Mad Max II? It appears right at the start when its drivers tangle with Max – big mistake! This replica uses a fibreglass replica of a ’57 Buick front bar, dual rear rims, a pair of TO4 Garrett turbos and a pair of Solex carbies. Under the bonnet is a much more sedate 351 and FMX combo. Just to really give your target the willies, the eyes of the bonnet-mounted skull flash and its jaw opens and shuts!
George Kritty’s XA coupe was already pretty cool with its MADMAX numberplates, but it copped some mods for Back 2 the Max, to resemble the ‘Bat car’ driven by the bad guys in Mad Max II. Details include a huge rear wing (made of wood), bonnet mural, fake injector stacks and skull badges. George brought along his cattle dog named Humungous.
Now 29, married to Isabella and with 10-month-old baby Jacob, Emil was just eight years old when he played the Feral Kid. “It was a pretty hard job at that age. Broken Hill was freezing cold and we had to get up at the crack of dawn every day.” Emil grins. “The scariest thing was getting strapped to the outside of Max’s truck while it was moving. It was only doing 40km/h, but that was fast enough!”