Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters with a vengeance on May 15, 2015, and reintroduced the modern world to George Miller's manic and sumptuous vision of a ravaged post-apocalyptic Wasteland. Starring Tom Hardy in the titular role, the movie actually focuses around Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, who leads a ragtag bunch of women in a desperate escape from Immortan Joe, the warlord of the desolate world. Chasing the ladies are a mangy crew of Half-life War Boys, poisoned by radioactivity but besotted with the mystical power of the V8 engines that they all hope to ride to the plains of Valhalla.
Despite all the celebrity that featured in the film, the true stars of the movie were the wild rat-rodded cars that took up most of the screen time. The wild contraptions run the gamut from early hot-rods converted to desert running all the way to massive semi-trucks with VW Bugs and Mercedes limousines bolted on top. Any fan of the automobile who hasn't seen Fury Road by now is missing out on a wild ride that is sure to leave them regretting their choice to commute to work on a bus every day.
Genius automotive designer Colin Gibson worked with director George Miller to bring all the cars in Fury Road to life—and the results are impressive, to say the least. While the movie struggled in development for reportedly somewhere around a decade, Gibson was scrounging up loose parts to bolt together into the brilliant results that would hypnotize fans worldwide upon the film's eventual release.
But as with any movie, not everything makes complete sense—especially about the cars in Mad Max: Fury Road.
20 No Four-Wheel Drive
Suspending the disbelief that everyone would be running gasoline-powered rat rods in the post-apocalyptic Wasteland, one major mystery that surrounds Mad Max: Fury Road is why nobody had the foresight and planning to build their awesome beasts with all-wheel drive. The magic of V8 engines, square-cut gears, and raw exteriors combines to provide some awesome sights and sounds but there's no doubting that the Police Interceptor would have been better able to outrun the War Boys if it had been modified to power all four wheels (though, of course, if the War Boys similarly escalated, George Miller would have had to deliver an even faster set of chase scenes).
19 Balance With Pole Cats
One of the more striking images that sticks in the mind after a viewing of Mad Max: Fury Road has to be the Pole Cat scenes. These Cirque du Soleil-inspired, pendulum-employing maniacs swing around up to 25 feet in the air, using counterweights to allow them to land atop the vehicles they are chasing and swoop away with whatever they can get their hands on. Their creepy attire notwithstanding, the stunts involved for these scenes are incredible to watch and were even more incredible to accomplish in real-life at high speeds. But even the widebody chassis that the Pole Cat cars employ don't seem like enough to counteract the effects of a Pole Cat getting stuck on the war rig, which could easily tip over their own, smaller vehicle.
18 No Paint
The aesthetics of Fury Road helped bring rat rods to the forefront of modern car culture—at least, for a little bit. Raw metal, superchargers galore, and knobby tires seem like the perfect inspiration for a backyard build and there's no doubt that for years to come, the Playa at Burning Man is likely to be populated by a solid contingent of Mad Max-inspired projects. But the reality of exposed steel in the hot desert (where it can also get quite cold at night) probably left many fans wondering why, at the very least, the post-Apocalyptic mechanics didn't apply a layer of primer to prevent dry rot and potential rust issues.
17 No Sun Damage
A quick visit to any junkyard will reveal that while most car-buyers fret over whether the used vehicle they're interested in lived in a Northern climate with snow and salt on the roads, sun damage can truly be an even more potent (and faster-acting) destroyer of cars than winter. And yet, very few of the cars in the Wasteland show any of the effects of sun damage—their exposed metal seemingly making the problems more likely. Sure, their glass and seals are all missing, which are two of the first things to go on a car left in the desert, but the rest of the body should be succumbing to the elements pretty quickly, as well.
16 Bolted-On Chassis
Some of the wildest vehicular sights in Mad Max: Fury Road involve massive amalgamations between passenger cars, monster trucks, and big rigs. The desired look was hit right on the head and the strange combinations make each and every creation stand out as unique. But exactly why the mechanics would decide to meld a monster truck with a Mercedes limo or a Tatra T815 with other vehicles remains a mystery. Did the radiation affect their brains all in the same way and create the urge for this specific look? There's nothing particularly wrong with it, per se, it just doesn't make much sense.
15 Max's Car
Max's car may have looked awesome in the original film starring Mel Gibson. Known as the Pursuit Special and the V8 Interceptor, the car was a Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe with some post-apocalyptic details added on like extra fuel tanks, side exhaust, and a blower poking out of the hood. Setting aside suspension of disbelief, no one would really want to drive a Ford Falcon through the Wasteland—and even the War Boys' modifications to the car in Fury Road didn't do much to improve the concept. Throw in the smooth tires that almost look like drag slicks out back and there's not much hope of outrunning anything in the sand.
14 External Gas Tanks
The scarcity of fuel is a main concern throughout the Mad Max films and Fury Road is no different. But even though everyone is revving their cars to the max for seemingly hours at a time, only a few of the cars and trucks in the movie carry any reserve fuel tanks. Sure, weighing down a car with extra fuel tanks may seem silly and it does make more sense to have a supply chain. But what's even more baffling is that the vehicles that do, in fact, carry extra gas do so in completely exposed tanks—rather than in well-hidden fuel cells—making them ripe targets for attack.
13 War Rig's MPGs
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa describes the War Rig as "2,000 horsepower of nitro-boosted war machine" to Tom Hardy's Mad Max. That sounds impressive except that it's dragging an enormous trailer, complete with two car shells atop as lookout towers and another fuel pod hanging off the rear. Later, it turns out the main fuel tank may even be full of produce, rather than actual fuel, leaving the audience wondering exactly how far Furiosa planned to get after dropping off the fuel pod. As 2,000 horsepower, what kind of MPGs is a truck like the War Rig getting driving through a sandy desert?
12 No Bicycles
In post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows like Mad Max: Fury Road, 28 Days Later, and The Walking Dead, everyone struggles to keep their cars fueled up in the scarcity of their post-civilization environments. Their difficulties may help the plot move along but doesn't it seem likely that instead of searching endlessly for gasoline on foot, everyone should be riding a bicycle? It might waste a few more precious calories than sitting around in an SUV but bicycles only run out of gas when their driver gives up the chase. Perhaps a scarcity of bicycle pumps in the Wasteland is to blame...
When a car takes on a motorcycle in any action film, it's easy for the audience to see that merely opening a door or slamming on the brakes could end the chase immediately. And yet, there are plenty of motorcycles in Mad Max: Fury Road, namely the ones driven by the Vuvalini. When Furiosa, Max, and the ladies all decide to drive out across the wasteland on bikes, it seems like a great idea until the reality of having to face an angry horde of War Boys comes into play. Motorcycles may get better fuel economy but they will get swatted like flies in the face of some more serious vehicles.
The spiky go-karts that the Buzzards drive every time they appear at the most inopportune moment in Mad Max: Fury Road shared around 5,000 rusty spikes throughout their fleet. The truck with the buzz saw on it (buzz saw, buzzards, get it?) had exactly 1,757 spikes, a reference to the Echidna, also known as the spiny anteater and the only mammal other than the Platypus that lays eggs. As cool as the Buzzards' cars may seem, they make no sense at all because they pose an equal risk to themselves as they do for everyone else, while simultaneously ruining their aerodynamic efficiency and wasting even more guzzoline.
9 Tracks In The Desert
Tanks have proven themselves useful in global conflict after global conflict (and a little-known fact is that Winston Churchill was one of the first advocates of the setup in the years leading up to WWI). Thanks to the fact that tanks have tracks, rather than wheels, they can pretty much chew their way through any terrain or obstacle. But what they aren't good at, however, is going fast; even the world's fastest tanks top out at around 60 miles per hour. That's not nearly fast enough to keep up with the rest of the War Boys and the War Rig, not to mention the horrible fuel economy.
8 Guitarist Concert Speaker Truck
One awesome part about Fury Road is the thumping soundtrack that features driving beats and heavy metal throughout the raging inferno that makes up approximately 97.3% of the film. The tunage isn't just for the audience, though, it's also featured as something that the characters are hearing as well. The iconic Coma-Doof Warrior is responsible for amping up the War Boys for their chase, strumming a double-necked guitar atop his enormous speaker system doubling as a semi-truck. None of it really makes any sense, though, since the enormous engines—paired with the wind noise of driving at 90 miles per hour without any windows—would render even the loudest guitar solo barely audible.
7 Suspension Travel
There's absolutely no need for the huge suspension setups that so many of the cars in Mad Max: Fury Road sport on their rear axles. Sure, it makes them look rough-and-ready to blast around, like a street-sport muscle car on drag slicks—but with all-terrain tires and performance more akin to monster trucks, having the tail end stick up high in the air is just reducing aerodynamics and further wasting the precious fuel that everyone is so desperate to get their hands on. Plus, when only a few cars can make it over a pile of boulders, the huge suspension travel is revealed to be extra useless.
6 Superchargers Everywhere
"Superchargers everywhere" can be summed up as the maxim of Mad Max engine building. Every car, rat rod, and semi has a big blower sticking up out of the hood. And sure, superchargers can vastly increase power output for an engine—but are they really the best option for the Wasteland? Not only are they sucking in dirty air constantly but they require belts to run off the engine. Where are all these rubber belts coming from? And how beefed-up are the engine internals on these cars to handle the immense amount of boost they're running? When traversing an enormous desert, it seems more likely that everyone would be more interested in reliability than outright power.
5 Guzzoline vs Diesel
Of course, a serious amount of suspension of disbelief is crucial to buying into the ragged chase scene that is the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. Not only are the chase scenes highly stylized but the lingo used by many characters can be hard to follow. 'Guzzoline' is the slang word for fuel, though it isn't made clear whether the characters in the movie are using gasoline or diesel. It seems like gasoline is the fuel of choice but any gearhead knows that in the post-apocalyptic world, diesel will be much more prevalent. Not only care diesel cars more efficient and torquey, but diesel weighs fractionally less, a crucial distinction when everyone has to tow fuel pods behind their cars and trucks.
4 Monster Truck Tires
Monster Trucks are awesome. And the closest thing to a Monster Truck in Mad Max: Fury Road, the truck that Immortan Joe hops in to climb over a few boulders blocking his path, perfectly blends the beefy look with rat-rod style in an intimidating, yet cool, ride. As one of the few vehicles with four-wheel drive and a suspension setup that's actually useful, the monster truck shows that it earned a place in the fleet. However, the feasibility of maintaining a monster truck after the apocalypse remains fairly questionable. Just look at those tires; where do they find more of those after one develops a leak?
Duallies are useful for civilians who want to bump their towing capacity up towards big-rig levels, but they're not exactly ideal for overlanders who hope to get the best 4x4 performance out of their vehicles. The wide range of rat rods in Fury Road that have a dually setup unnecessarily added onto their rear axle is simply silly because the ragtag crew knows they'll be headed into sandy deserts and rocky canyons where those extra wheels and tires are only going to be a hindrance. They serve only to highlight the aesthetic modifications that some of the cars received rather than the performance-oriented changes.
2 Tow Claws
One nifty trick that Immortan Joe and his War Boys employ to try and stop the War Rig is the use of trucks that have tow hooks they can drop down into the sand to drag the whole parade to a stop. Putting aside the idea that a cable launched into the side of the War Rig wouldn't snap at the lightest punch of the throttle, the idea that these Tow Hook trucks could possibly drop a plow into the ground without snapping their chassis right in half is completely absurd. Remember, Furiosa called it "2,000 horsepower of nitro-boosted war machine" for a reason; even a trio of Tow Hook trucks would render themselves irrelevant in short order.
1 Exposed To The Elements
The Wasteland is a vicious place where strange humans chase each other around on wild machines in the hopes of securing themselves another day or two of survival. But part of the danger of living in the post-apocalyptic world comes from the world itself, a parched desert devoid of any water or vegetation and frequented by sandstorms, blistering heat, and frigid cold. And yet, most of the vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road offer little protection from the elements, being without windshields, windows, seals, or even, in some cases, roofs. And the concept of riding motorcycles through it all is just baffling.
Sources: Bloomberg, Mad Max Fandom, and IMDb.