When the action-packed, cult classic, apocalyptic thriller "Mad Max" hit theaters in 1979, and sequel "The Road Warrior" in 1981 - car nuts everywhere couldn’t seem to get enough of the films’ Australian, muscle-car, rat-rods.
“I fell in love with the 'Mad Max' movies when I was 13 years old watching 'Mad Max' and 'Road Warrior' in a double feature,” Dee Vyper of Mad Max Cars in Puyallup said. “I was already a fan of the 'Dukes of Hazard' with The General Lee, 'Knight Rider' with KITT and 'Batman' with the Batmobile. But, when I saw 'Mad Max' for the first time and saw that Interceptor roll onto the screen, my life changed forever.”
The “Interceptor,” a heavily modified 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT, was driven by the title character 'Mad Max' (played by Mel Gibson) in some crazy, hi-octane, on-screen situations.
“That car is mean, that car is bad and you flip the switch and the blower comes on," said Vyper. "I have to have that car.”
Troy McClure, Vyper's business partner, felt the same way.
“I wanted my own Mad Max car and I started building one," he said. "The first one I started I sold to a customer. [Then] I started another one, sold that one...I haven’t kept one for myself yet.”
Now, McClure and Vyper build, fix and sell awesome "Mad Max" inspired hot rods and other movie cars for a living at their shop Mad Max Cars in Puyallup.
“Its ultra-matic, it’s hydro-matic, it's Greased Lightning” Vyper laughed. “It started out as a pretty stock ’41 Ford Coupe just like the one in the movie, custom metal flake paint job with the lightning bolts, custom palomino dashboard.”
Their Greased Lightning replica also features massive tail-fins and a see-through hood, custom made by heating and bending a flat sheet of Plexiglas to shape.
Vyper and McClure have no shortage of imagination and creativity. But, when it comes to getting their creations to run, drive and perform, they enlist the help of longtime engine builder and mechanical expert Mike Gipson and his crew at Gipson Motorworks.
"We do engines, we do transmissions, we do rear ends, we do suspension, we do engine development for a lot of different race teams,” said Gipson.
What's it like to just let loose and build something crazy?
“A lot of the stuff that they do, you can just use your imagination," said Gibson. “We really look forward to many years of building this kind of stuff.”