The Mind-Bending Cars of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga takes the franchise’s signature vehicular mayhem to another level with a gnarly menagerie of new post-apocalyptic hotrods.

Making It Epic

In Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, the fifth entailment in director George Miller’s Mad Max franchise, resources and pity alike are scarce commodities in the post-apocalyptic Wasteland populated by desperate scavengers and power-crazed warlords who command legions of War Boys or hordes of bloodthirsty bikers.

Furiosa and The Valiant - imdb.com
Furiosa and The Valiant - imdb.com

Furiosa sets a different pace than Fury Road. Whereas the preceding film was a breakneck chase from nearly start to finish, Furiosa unfurls itself episodically, as the “saga” in its title implies. But that doesn’t mean Miller skimps out on the high-octane thrills the franchise is known for. Furiosa delivers not only the elaborate set piece action sequences of vehicular mayhem we’ve come to expect from Miller, but the epic structure of the film also allows for the director to indulge in more world building.

That means more characters, from the grungy and grotesque to the noble and heroic. That means more varied settings, from the oasis-like Green Place to the grimly industrial Gas Town. And most importantly, that means even more of what the franchise is best known for: bat-guano crazy post-apocalyptic vehicles chopped, supercharged, and ready for war on Fury Road.

Here’s our rundown of the wildest new vehicles from Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

War Rig (1.0)

War Rig (1.0) - rottentomatoes.com
War Rig (1.0) - rottentomatoes.com

Furiosa not only gives us the titular character’s origin story, but it also gives the origins of the first War Rig of Immortan Joe’s Citadel. In the film, we see a plucky crew of mechanics building the War Rig 1.0 from a Kenworth 900 Series. The War Rig 1.0 is far shinier and more chrome than the weathered and war worn one we see in Fury Road. This War Rig is gleaming from end to end, from the stack of five chrome bumpers to the spinning spiked maces on the back of the tanker. Embossed on the sides of the tanker is a mural of Immortan Joe and his legions triumphantly victorious and founding the Citadel. A nice bit of branding for the neo-strong man leader.

The new War Rig is driven by Praetorian Jack, a hard-bitten road warrior turned mentor/love interest to Furiosa. The main battle sequence involving the new War Rig took an extensive 77 days to shoot. Which sounds like a lot (typical on-location filming averages between 30 and 120 days) until you’ve seen how complex the scene really is. The incredible sequence certainly puts the fury in Fury Road.

Of course, the new Rig has new weapons and new details. In addition to the mural, the War Rig has a twin set of chrome skull radiator caps, fold out fighting platforms, and directly behind the cab a platform that hosts a pair of excavator arms, one with a bucket and one with a grapple, as well as a pole for War Boys to leap onto passing vehicles.

Dementus’ Chariot

Dementus' Chariot - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube
Dementus' Chariot - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

The new villain of the Wasteland in Furiosa is Dr. Dementus, played by Chris Hemsworth. Dementus is the leader of a vicious gang of motorcycle riding psychos and scavengers that maraud the Wasteland like the second coming of the Golden Horde. The classical allusions abound with Dementus, including his flamboyant red cape and his motorcycle drawn chariot. Production designers built this fantastical machine from a Rotech seven-cylinder airplane engine, fabricating a bike around that engine and then flanking that central bike with two R18 BMWs and steering the whole thing with leather reigns like a proper chariot. There is president for this outlandishness. The Aussies pioneered motorcycle chariot racing way back in the 1920s.

Six-Foot (Dementus’ Monster Truck)

Six-Foot - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube
Six-Foot - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

Dementus gets a second and even more imposing vehicle in the Six-Foot, a gargantuan monster truck equipped with a 454 Chevy V8 and six massive tractor tires apportioned across three axles. There’s a huge PA system complete with a polyphony of loudspeakers for Dementus’ many public addresses (Hemsworth says he fashioned Dementus’ nasally voice from a combination of an Aussie auctioneer, his own grandfather, and a seagull).

The Six Foot is as fully realized and detailed as any prop from the film. Its bull bar is half an excavator’s grapple. The hood ornament is a bobble-headed Cerberus (three-headed hell hound). The body panels and hood have ornate cutaway designs which both look cool and presumably aid in cooling that beefy 454.

The Valiant

The Valiant - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube
The Valiant - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

Furiosa gets a couple choice rides herself. The first of these is The Valiant which is, you guessed it, built from a Plymouth Valiant. The Valiant has been lifted, chopped into a wagon to carry a pair of dirt bikes, and given both a supercharger and turbo to augment the original’s meager slant six. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the grown up Furiosa, took her first driving lessons from behind the wheel of The Valiant, learning to whip the car in a 180 for the Bullet Farm scene.

The Cranky Black

The Cranky Black - imcdb.org
The Cranky Black - imcdb.org

Furiosa’s vengeful epic chase of Dementus and crew across the wind-blasted dunes of the Wasteland is accomplished via of one of the movie’s sickest rides, The Cranky Black. Production designer Colin Gibson, who won an Oscar for Best Production Design for Fury Road, refers to The Cranky Black as a “Chev hot rod” with a rear mounted turbo’d V8. But just looking at this rattiest of rods, it’s clear The Cranky Black is so much more.

The cab and doors are those of a 1930s Chevy sedan, but the rest of the car is a mishmash of parts: out board wheels, side pipe exhausts, intake pipes above the roof, and a harpoon gun mounted on the hood. That rather unfamiliar hood and the grille are taken from a 1990s Bently Brooklands.

The Octoboss’ Fan Bike

The Octoboss' Fan Bike - imdb.com
The Octoboss' Fan Bike - imdb.com

Onetime Dementus confederates, the Octoboss and crew turn rogue to waylay the forces of the Citadel as Praetorian Jack and Furiosa make a food delivery run in the War Rig. As we noted above, this scene is the film’s most lavish and elaborate and establishes both characters’ resourcefulness and mutual respect. The Octoboss and his flying gyrocopter/motorcycle combo play a central part as the villain swoops down on the War Rig, the tentacle-like parasail tailing in the wind. This isn’t the first gyrocopter we’ve seen in Mad Max, the second film, The Road Warrior, also featured a gyrocopter.

The Thunderbike

In the beginning of the film, a young Furiosa is stolen from her family and her home, The Green Place, by members of Dementus’ crew. One of the marauders rides the Thunderbike, which is then stolen by Furiosa’s mother as she pursues her daughter’s captors. The Thunderbike is built from a BMW R18, but you’d hardly know it with the work production designers put into its post-apocalyptic makeover. There’s the horse’s skull in place of a headlamp and the cow’s horns shielding the handlebars, the knobby off-road tires, the extra fuel tank, and a stained bedroll strapped to the back of the seat. The bike carries the moniker of the Thunderbike due to its loud and distinctive engine lope which rebounds off the dunes like the beating of a war drum.

Furiosa Background Vehicles

Furiosa Background Vehicles - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube
Furiosa Background Vehicles - Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

Of course, there are dozens of other wild and weird rides that make up the bulk of the vehicular background players. There’s a first-generation Volkswagen Type 2 microbus truck with a trailer built from the back half of another Type 2, complete with a mounted flame thrower. The War Boys, devotees of the V8 engine, get a few choice rides as well, including a ’59 Olds 88 and a ’77 Mercury Cougar XR-7, to help defend the War Rig. Dementus’ biker horde ride new designs for Furiosa like the black rooster dirt bikes and at least one bike that’s half snowmobile. To be honest, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is such a visual whirlwind of macabre machinery that it’s almost impossible to appreciate all the these incredibly inventive vehicles in just one showing.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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