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How Mad Max Created a Fleet of Monstrous Cars

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The world of Mad Max makes us think of one thing—cars with unbelievable modifications cruising into action-packed battles across a desert wasteland. With Furiosa coming to theaters as of May, there’s no time like the present to revisit some of the standout cars from this iconic franchise.

Although the vehicles of the Mad Max world certainly look distinctive, the most absurd thing about them is that almost every one depicted on screen actually functions as a vehicle. While a lesser series would have opted for special effects and CGI, Mad Max, particularly in Fury Road, had a team of engineers and mechanics on hand to create each of its bizarre, hyper-modified vehicles and ensure they could actually run and be filmed driving through the dusty wastes of the movie’s setting. Thanks to a special feature documentary from behind the scenes of Fury Road and the accumulated knowledge of fans who’ve contributed to the Mad Max Wiki, every detail of how these terrifying vehicles were brought to life has been explained. Here are a few of the most memorable vehicles from the franchise and the real-world stories behind them.

Interceptor (Pursuit Special)

Driven by the enigmatic Max Rockatansky in the original 1979 Mad Max film, the Interceptor is a menacing sight on the wasteland roads. It’s a modified 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe, featuring a supercharged V8 engine that roars with ferocity. The sleek black paint job, roof-mounted spoiler, and aggressive stance make it instantly recognizable.

The Interceptor is equipped with a supercharger protruding from the hood, enhancing its performance and giving it an intimidating presence. Front-end modifications, including a reinforced bumper and ramming spikes, make it a formidable force in vehicular combat. Additionally, a fuel tank mounted in the rear ensures extended range and endurance.

War Rig

The War Rig is a behemoth on wheels, a fortress on the move. Featured prominently in Mad Max: Fury Road, this custom-built monstrosity is designed to traverse the harshest terrains and withstand the onslaught of enemies.

In what perceptive readers might notice is a trend for the series, the War Rig is based on an eastern-European car, notably the Tatra T815 from the Czech Republic. Like every other car in the series, it’s been heavily modified to suit the needs of a post-apocalyptic hellscape, not least of all including defensive and weaponry mods. Interestingly, the real trucks used for filming were modified from their original designs by having the cabs moved back from over the engine to the middle of the chassis, and more passenger space was added by using the cab of a modified 1947 Chevy Fleetmaster sedan. 


The Gigahorse is a monstrous creation assembled from two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes stacked atop one another. This towering vehicle serves as the personal chariot of Immortan Joe, the tyrannical ruler of the wasteland in Fury Road.

The Gigahorse runs on two Chevrolet 502Cid (502Hp) Big Block V8 crate motors with functioning 8/71 superchargers. The engines are connected through a custom gearbox designed by the film’s engineers. Although the car, like almost every other car depicted in the Mad Max Series, really ran, the transmission apparently had to be rebuilt after each day it was used on set. That said, the engine was capable of putting out an incredible 1200 horsepower, some of which was needed simply to move the massive 10.5 ton warhorse. It stood around 13 feet high and offered, presumably, a commanding view of the desert wasteland setting.

Polecat No. 7

In Mad Max: Fury Road, Polecat No. 7 is a striking example of the film’s creative vehicle modifications, utilizing a 1948 Buick Special 4-door sedan as its base. This classic car was significantly transformed to align with the rugged, dystopian aesthetics and intense functional demands of the Mad Max universe, including a mounted anti-aircraft gun and dual rear wheels. As a part of the film’s notorious fleet, this Buick was turned into a pivotal piece of mobile warfare equipment.

The most dramatic modification to Polecat No. 7 was the installation of a large, articulated boom arm mounted on the roof. This pole mechanism allowed War Boys to swing across to other vehicles during the frantic and high-speed chase scenes. Originally this effect was going to be achieved with CGI, but the production design team responsible for the cars told the director it would be possible to really create the poles. The poles were designed to be flexible yet sturdy, capable of bearing the weight and dynamic motion of the War Boys as they vaulted through the air.

The car was equipped with a reinforced suspension system to cope with the rapid movements and heavy landings. The engine likely received upgrades to handle the extra weight and maintain high-speed capabilities essential for the chase sequences. Protective cages and metal plating were added for both aesthetic effect and practical defense against the brutal combat scenarios typical in the film.

Doof Wagon

A spectacle like no other, the Doof Wagon is a musical war machine that accompanies the War Rig, providing a relentless soundtrack to the chaos unfolding on the battlefield in Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a mobile stage, a beacon of inspiration for Immortan Joe’s army.

The Doof Wagon from “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a memorable post-apocalyptic vehicle, inspired by real-world military and industrial vehicles like the MAZ 543 “Uragan,” a Soviet artillery truck, and adapted for the unique visual and thematic elements of the film. The base of the Doof Wagon is a repurposed 8×8 MAN military truck, chosen for its rugged, heavy-duty frame capable of withstanding the harsh desert environments and high-speed action sequences depicted in the movie. The design was further enhanced with features reminiscent of stage trucks used in rock concerts, including massive speakers and a flamethrower-equipped guitar to add to its theatrical impact. This blending of military robustness with concert stage theatrics created a vehicle that was not only visually striking but also thematically resonant, amplifying the anarchic culture of the film’s universe.

Razor Cola

In the world of Mad Max, nothing is wasted. In Fury Road, after being captured, Max’s Falcon XB GT Interceptor is refitted and appropriated into the fleet of Immortan Joe’s forces. 

As the initial chase in the film begins, Max, played by Tom Hardy, laments that they’re taking his blood and now they’ve taken his car, too. For its dramatic reimagining in Fury Road, the vehicle was built to resemble a modernized version of Max’s original Interceptor, with substantial modifications to enhance its rugged, battle-ready appearance. The Razor Cola was outfitted with an aggressive front end featuring a custom-made double skull ramming grill, which not only served a functional purpose in the film’s high-octane chase scenes but also intensified the vehicle’s menacing look. The car’s body was stripped down to bare metal, polished to a mirror finish to give it a distinctive, eye-catching shine amidst the desert backdrop. Performance enhancements included a supercharged V8 engine, a fortified suspension system to handle the rough terrain, and a massive pair of fuel tanks mounted in the rear to emphasize its endurance capabilities.

Howe and Howe Ripsaw EV1 “The Peacemaker”

The Ripsaw is possibly the most insane vehicle in the entire Mad Max universe. Although it may not be quite as visually striking as the Doof Wagon or the Gigahorse, the ripsaw is a tank that can move at pursuit speeds along with other vehicles in the films. 

To bring the “Peacemaker” to life, The filmmakers commissioned Howe and Howe Technologies to create a vehicle that ran on tracks and matched the aesthetics of the Mad Max universe. Howe and Howe started with their Ripsaw EV1 “Extreme Vehicle 1” but then added the body of a mid-1970s Chrysler Valiant Charger to create the custom vehicle which suited the Frankenstein-like nature of vehicles in this world.Readers may also remember watching the show Howe & Howe Tech which aired on the Discovery Channel from 2010 to 2011. During two episodes of the first season, the Howe & Howe team work on the Ripsaw.

On the first day of testing, the Peacemaker’s engine overheated and brakes caught fire. More modifications, including the addition of a second (and eventually a third radiator), were needed to bring this outlandish vehicle up to functional shape. Eventually the Peacemaker was destroyed once production concluded.

The People Eater’s Limousine aka the Gastown Petrol Tanker

This vehicle from “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a heavily modified AM General M814 Cargo Truck, with Mercedes Benz W123 limousine body (V123 Lang) on top. Two trucks were used for building the vehicle – one for closeup shots and the second for stunts and the final explosion scene. The cabin came from the trucks and the body from the Mercedes was outfitted on top. 

The vehicles of the Mad Max universe are more than just props. They’re intricate works of art that tell stories of survival, ingenuity, and the indomitable human spirit. Whether they’re modified versions of existing cars or entirely unique creations, each vehicle is a testament to the filmmakers’ creativity and commitment to crafting a believable and immersive post-apocalyptic world. 

From the roaring engines of the Interceptor to the thunderous beats of the Doof Wagon, these vehicular marvels leave an indelible impression, cementing their place as icons of cinematic history. As we eagerly anticipate the release of “Furiosa,” we can only imagine the new wonders that await us in this ever-evolving wasteland.