Australia’s Best Mad Max Replica Taken off the Road by Police

The owner was served a defect notice for the modified vehicle by Queensland Police.

byLewin Day|
Culture photo


Movie cars are popular builds in the automotive scene, with enthusiasts eager to drive and own the metal they've seen in their favorite films. While these cars are often surefire hits at local car shows, authorities can often take a dim view of modifications that aren't quite fit for use on the road. That's precisely what happened when an Australian man took his Mad Max replica to Queensland, as reported by ABC News.

Fans of Mad Max (1979) fell in love with the story of Max Rockatansky, an officer serving with the Main Force Patrol, aiming to keep the peace in a bleak alternate-universe Australia suffering from a breakdown in social order. Rockatansky famously goes vigilante, dishing out violent justice at the wheel of the Pursuit Special, a heavily-modified Ford XY Falcon Coupe that became an icon following the film's release.

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Australian Rod Coverdale loved the car and set about building his own in the Northern Territory, kicking off work in earnest in 2009. His example, replete with the classic giant supercharger and Scott injection hat, was so good it was voted the best replica in Australia by Murray Smith, the man who built the original movie car, as reported by Street Machine back in 2016.

Upon moving to Queensland, Coverdale found that the local authorities weren't big fans of his modifications. Police took primary issue with the blower protruding from the hood due to pedestrian safety issues, as well as the blue light inside the car, which is a color reserved for emergency services in Australia. 

Police issued a defect notice, requiring it to be returned to compliance with the rules before it was allowed to be driven on-road once more. Speaking to ABC News, Senior Sergeant Shaune English noted that "It was a very nice-looking car," but took issue with other features of the car. "It also had exhaust hanging out the side of the vehicle, which again, exhaust pipes get hot. If someone brushes past that's a risk to people as well," said English. 

According to Coverdale's comments on a Queensland police Facebook post, he drove the car for 12 years in the Northern Territory with no problems. Running it on a special club registration and only heading out to special events, on the occasions he was pulled over by police, it was so the officers could take a photo with the car. On one occasion, he says he was even asked to attend a police graduation ceremony with the vehicle.

Coverdale acknowledges the car was out of compliance with certain regulations but found the police response to be heavy-handed. "Given the fact it's only driven maybe six times a year, a simple warning would of [sic] been sufficient rather than a full-on defect," said Coverdale. The owner of several movie replica cars reports that the car has since passed a roadworthiness inspection, minus the blower and blue light. 

Australian police aren't known for their leniency nor their sense of fun; whether they're impounding motorized Eskys or hiding in bushes to catch speeders, they rarely hesitate to deliver strict punishment for those who flout the road rules. If you're planning to modify your car Down Under, keep it subtle and undetected, or stick to the rules, else you'll likely find yourself with a big fat defect sticker on the front windshield just like Rob did. Stay safe out there.

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