A FORGOTTEN gem amongst Australian car flicks, Midnite Spares teams up a great cast with plenty of action and quick-witted Aussie humour. Steve Hall (Laurie) arrives in town to race speedway with his dad, Ted, only to find that he has supposedly shot through.
With wisdom and guidance from Ted’s business partner, the paint-splattered Thomas (Cullen), and befriending towies — the eternally filthy Wimpy (Spence) and Rabbit (Argue) — Steve learns that Ted may have met with foul play.
Crooked cop Howard (Barry) has masterminded a car theft racket with high-end local businessmen using standover tactics to force local tradies to buy stolen parts. Steve stumbles onto the theft ring, finds the connection between them and his dad’s disappearance and becomes hell-bent on revenge.
Along the way he makes his mark on the local speedway scene and discovers love with the spunky Ruth (Carides), fighting hard to win over her staunch Greek family.
In the end, Steve and his Team Rat crew join forces with the Greek Diaz family to not only disband the theft organisation, but exert ‘eye for an eye’ justice on the kingpins responsible for his father’s death.
Much of the Midnite Spares action centres around the goings-on at Grubb’s Grub, a takeaway owned by Wayne Grubb (Coleman) — keep your eyes peeled for the Trans Am-fronted tow trucks and period toughies in the background. The scene involving a battery-charged fuel tank is an absolute cracker.
Grubb’s carpark also provides fodder for the car thieves who make off with a red Charger that meets an eye-opening death at the hands of a sweatshop stripping crew.
The banter between Wimpy and Rabbit makes the movie in a lot of ways, with unforgettable one-liners that will become ingrained in your vocabulary. “I wouldn’t mind a bite of a Mars bar if you’ve got one open, Ruth,” is Rabbit’s addition to Wimpy’s whole-menu order at Grubb’s, while “Look whose Mum’s got a Whirlpool” has to be the best description ever for a detailed engine bay.
The finale can be watched over and over, but be sure to start early enough to see former Playboy cover girl Amanda Dole strut her stuff as the lovely Janelle Clapton.
Midnite Spares may have been overshadowed by the likes of Mad Max and Running On Empty but it has more than enough entertainment and car action to deserve a guernsey. Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of classic Aussie metal, including Steve Plunkett’s Broken Hearted EH pano and Alan Cooper’s twin-axle tonner. I guarantee after watching this film there’ll be a heap of new one-liners joining conversations between you and your mates, especially if a red Charger comes into view.
HX Holden panel van
Holden one-ton tow trucks
Pontiac Trans Am
Race scenes at Liverpool Speedway are iconic. The grand finale in the drains, between an XA hardtop and a P76, is one of Australian cinema’s best chases
Plot: Sprint car racer Steve Hall travels to Sydney to team up with his dad, Ted. Ted’s disappeared and Steve’s quest to find answers uncovers a high-ranking car theft ring
COOL FLICK FACT:
The closing tune, Love Is The Law, is an early Paul Kelly hit.