This is a routine pursuit.

Main Force repeats, this is a routine pursuit. Code 44.

“Listen, you tell them we need help.”

Main Force repeats, you have your information.

This is a routine pursuit. Please liaise with Big Bopper.

‘Strewth! Time to saddle up with the Main Force Patrol and put paid to Nightrider, Toecutter, and all those twisto bikeys and scoot jockeys. It’s time to get serious, time to get Mad. Hit the lights Roop – and pass the Vegemite.

This is James McMillan’s 1976 Ford Falcon XB, done up in MFP livery and wearing the names of two of its finest on the front fender: Roop and Charlie. Just as those two are sidekicks to Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky, this car’s a faithful tribute to the partner of the all-black Pursuit Special. They called it the Big Bopper, and today we’re taking it out on patrol in Vancouver.

First, a little history lesson on Ford Australia. Founded in 1925 in Geelong, near Melbourne, the company actually has Canadian roots. Ford of Canada was long involved in selling cars throughout the Commonwealth nations – there were tax and importation considerations in doing so – and provided the first knock-down Model T kits that were assembled in Southern Australia.

Early on, Australia’s Fords were much like those found in the UK: Consuls and Cortinas and the like. In 1960, the Falcon came along as a right-hand-drive machine with very American sensibilities; by the early 1970s, the Falcon had developed its own, uniquely Australian identity.

The first Mad Max movie used several Falcons, two MFP-liveried V8-powered XBs, one straight-six XA, and the menacing black Pursuit Special, based on the rare XB GT351 hardtop. If you’ve seen the original ’79 flick, you’ll know that the Big Bopper spent much of its time careening off minivans and smashing through caravans; at the end of the movie the car was so badly damaged it went straight to the crusher.

Such was very nearly the fate of this one. Originally imported out of Portland, it was just hours away from being scrapped when McMillan spotted it in the driveway of a small towing company. “I was driving home from work and I decided to take a different route to go by Lordco (a local parts store),” he says, “At first I thought it might be a Mustang II, but then I got closer – is that an Australian Ford Falcon? I gotta’ know the story.”

As luck would have it, the Big Bopper replica had been given a brief reprieve from the crusher thanks to a broken tow truck. The tow company had been called to a downtown location to take the car away and dispose of it, and only a last minute problem with the flat deck had prevented the Falcon from already being crushed. By the time McMillan pulled over, the truck was fixed and running the Falcon to the junkyard was on the to-do list – if he’d passed by an hour or two later, it would already have been gone.

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