Strewth! That goosey drongo is chucking a tire in the bushes. Stone the crows! Give the bloody garbo a dose of the blueies, the carvey bloggo wobbling dingo-smuggler!
All right, all right: I have no idea how to speak Aussie. And what are you supposed to do with the corks on this stupid hat? I dipped ‘em in Vegemite and everything, but they appear to be actually attracting more flies. That can’t be right. Well anyway, here’s what it’s like to drive around in a genuine Australian Ford Falcon, done up to look like Roop and Charlie’s car from the first Mad Max movie.
I first came across this car at a Thanksgiving run held by a local classic car-rallying club (I did a run with them a little while ago in my dad’s ‘67 MGB). You can find a complete-ish history of the Ford Falcon here on driving.ca, one of my regular sites.
Ford Australia started off as a subsidiary of Ford Canada owing to interesting things like having the Queen on our money, and spelling humour with a u, and other similarities like that. For instance, in Australia, everything is deadly poisonous, and in Canada, everything is a deadly bear. Unless it’s a deadly moose.
The Falcon eventually became a proper Australian Ford, developing its own identity after years of trying to make American and Euro-Ford imports work. Then Mad Max came along and made it famous for the rest of the world. They used a few of these XBs in production of the original movie, along with the signature black Pursuit Special that everybody recognizes instantly.
This one’s a bit more obscure if you haven’t seen the first movie, although it’s still pretty great. It was driven by Max’s ham-handed co-workers, Roop and Charlie, and carried the callsign Big Bopper. As the best driver, Max drove an Interceptor, and this is badged a Pursuit - they might have also called it a Ram, as it was Roop’s tendency to drive the car right through any bothery obstacle.
The double-take factor is high, and the story behind the car is pretty great too. It belongs to James McMillan, a local Datsun enthusiast who basically saved it minutes from the crusher. The wrecker’s the one who broke the chin-spoiler by the way - James plastic-welded it back together until he could get his hands on a replacement part.
It’s not unlike any 1970s Musclecar to drive, just with extra weird bits like having the horn on the stalk, and of course being right-hand-drive. This ones got a 351ci Cleveland under the hood, but it’s a fairly mild build. It rumbles like the thunder down under, and will squeal the tires a bit, but it’s more a fun cruiser. Imagine if Starsky and Hutch spent all their time tracking down sheep-rustling swagmen, aided by Huggy Koala-Bear. That kinda car.
James even has a CD fans made of the original movie’s radio chatter, so he puts that on. We sniff around South Vancouver, looking for old abandoned buildings to park it in front of, and find a bunch of stuff, including the aforementioned dude trying to dump tires illegally in an alley. The Falcon’s sirens and PA system may or may not be fully functional and we may or may not have made him crap his pants - I plead the fifth, or whatever the Australian equivalent is.
You can import one of these Stateside yourself, if you’d like. It’s not difficult, although prices on more desirable Falcons can be high in Oz, costing many dollarydoos. This place even appears to do just Mad Max movie cars.
It’s a pretty unique machine, and great that it was saved from the crusher.