Video: Mad Max HQ Monaro tribute

Mark Sauer’s coupe is a 10-second, big block-shoved tribute to the rampaging Mad Max HQ

Photographers: Matthew Williams

WHILE the XB Falcon Interceptor coupe may have been the hero car from the original Mad Max flick, there was another dark-coloured two-door that set the tone for the film long before Max Rockatansky’s iconic ride showed up.

First published in Street Machine’s Yearbook 2021

The Pursuit Special HQ coupe stolen by runaway convict Crawford ‘Nightrider’ Montizano only had a short stint on screen at the beginning of the blockbuster, but the maniacal driving – coupled with a fiery end for both the Nightrider and the ’Q – was enough to etch the battered and bruised Holden into Aussie cinema legend.

“I’m surprised how many people actually recognise the car given how little it was in the movie,” says Mark Sauer, owner of this wild replica. “I guess that shows how much of an impact it had in that short time on screen.”

Mark has had a love affair with HQ Holdens since he was a teenager, this Monaro being the tip of the iceberg of his vast collection. “Right now I’m down to around seven cars, but over the years I’ve probably owned 50-100 of them,” he laughs.

This particular Monaro sat on a hoist for around 11 years, until Mark found himself without a working car not far out from Powercruise Queensland a few years ago. “Because the car was grey, my brother would always say it reminded him of the car from Mad Max,” says Mark. “So I thought, I’ll do something a bit different and do it up as that car. It’s not to exact detail, but it’s as close as I could get without going too crazy.”

Being a panel beater meant that giving the Monaro a fresh lick of satin gunmetal grey was easy for Mark, and for power he looked to his back catalogue of meaty V8s. “I had the big-block and gearbox sitting in the corner of the shed, so we put that into it and it’s been heaps of fun so far,” he says.

The driveline consists of an all-motor, carby-fed 454ci big-block Chev, backed up by a manualised Turbo 400 ’box, 3200rpm converter and a Strange nine-inch diff.

The car successfully duked it out in sweltering November heat at Drag Challenge Weekend in Queensland last year, Mark confirming the coupe’s 10-second potential despite a few handicaps. “It did a roller lifter a day before the event, and then again on the Saturday,” says Mark. “We were also running E85 through the carby to help with the temps, and while it did keep it cool, we only had 9.5:1 comp, which isn’t that high for E85.”

Despite those issues, Mark still pushed the HQ to a PB of 10.90@126mph. “It was a really great event; I’d love to come down and do the five-day one too,” he says.

Since then, the big-cube Chev has had a refresh by TR Engines. The 454-cube mill uses a steel crank, Scat rods and new high-compression pistons to bring comp up to a much more E85-friendly 12.5:1. The stick is a custom-grind roller unit, and locking it all in is a pair of Edelbrock heads, topped with an Edelbrock Victor Jr intake fed by a Holley 950 carby. “So far we’ve made 550hp on the chassis dyno, but I plan to take it to a hub dyno to stop wheelspin and get a decent number,” he says.

Mark reckons the newfound power should see his PB drop to a mid-10 when he hits the track. “We’ll get some more testing in before the next Drag Challenge. I’m keen to see a 10.50 or lower when we can get it to hook on the 235s.”

Why 235s? Well, it’s the same reason the engine bay in the Quey is bright green: it’s on borrowed time as a Mad Max replica. “I can only fit 235s because the rear guards haven’t been rolled, and I don’t want to do that because I’m eventually going to pull the running gear out and turn this into a Lina-Mint Green 350 car, which is the engine bay colour,” Mark says. “Then it’ll just become a nice cruiser.”

Before that happens though, Mark fully intends to give Nightrider’s HQ one final stab at a Drag Challenge event in its current form. “I’m building an HQ ute that’ll be more suited to things like Drag Challenge and will fit a 275, but I’ll have one more crack in the coupe next year and then put the running gear into the ute,” he says.


Class: Kool Wrap 235 Aspirated
Engine: 454ci Chev
Inlet: Edelbrock Victor Jr
Carby: Holley 950
Heads: Edelbrock
Pistons: High-comp
Rods: Scat
Crank: Steel
Transmission: Turbo 400
Converter: Dominator, 3200rpm
Diff: 9in, 31-spline, 3.7:1 gears
Best DC PB: 10.90@126mph