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Sad Max: Our rigs flogged to the highest bidder

Wednesday, 15th September, 2021

By Jack Marx

A nightmarish squadron of vehicles from Mad Max: Fury Road is up for auction later this month, and it looks like Broken Hill might be robbed of its rightful Hollywood heritage for a second time.  
Lloyd’s Classic Car Auctions will be bringing the hammer down at 7pm on September 26, the highest bidder getting to drive away with 13 machines including the “War Rig”, the “Gigahorse” and the “Doof Wagon”, “super turbo-charged and armed to the teeth with weaponry”, as Lloyds’ website describes them.  
A spokesperson for Lloyds told Barrier Truth that the lot has attracted “considerable interest from the United States”, meaning iconography that really belongs in Broken Hill will once again go to some less deserving part of the world.  
“The whole Mad Max thing itself – it’s Australian through and through,” says Adrian Bennett, curator of Silverton’s Mad Max Museum.  
“George Miller himself described it as his vision of Australia. I think that’s what disappointed a lot of people about Fury Road – you had to use your imagination to convince yourself that it was Australia, when it was actually Africa.
“And its absolutely right to say that the look of these vehicles – the whole steampunk thing – began here, with Mad Max 2.”
Though the original 1979 Mad Max was shot in Victoria, it was Mad Max 2 in 1981 that brought the franchise to international fame, director George Miller’s “junkyard-society-of-the-future look”, as Hollywood writer Richard Sheib described it, owing as much to Broken Hill’s wasteland desertscapes as it did to the costumes and machinery.     
“It really all started with Mad Max 2,” says Adrian.   
“It was so influential – started everything off with this post-apocalyptic look and feel we’ve seen in so many movies since. When you read interviews with directors like Tarantino, they all say the same thing; that, without Mad Max 2, depictions of the future in film would look very different indeed.”  
But it was in 2011 that Broken Hill was first cheated of its fortunes in the Mad Max horn of plenty, unseasonably wet weather making the desert bloom with flora entirely unsuitable for Miller’s apocalyptic vision. After considerable pre-production, including the building of a studio in Eyre Street, Miller was forced to relocate Fury Road to the bleak sandhills of Namibia in Southern Africa.
Like a heartbroken ex-lover, Broken Hill watched in agony as the world became enamoured with Swakopmund – a former mining town, no less – the coastal Namibian getaway becoming the darling of travel writers, real estate speculators and apostles of Hollywood (the Namibia Tourism Board still runs tours of the sand-swept Fury Road locations).   
The grief is now poised strike again as the iconic machines – the grandchildren of the wagons from Mad Max 2 – are likely to be whisked away from their spiritual home, to be fiddled with by some rich American stranger, a future more desolate than the one depicted by the film in which they starred.  
Adrian Bennett can barely stand it.  
“It would be lovely if George Miller had saved me just one vehicle,” Adrian muses,” and delivered it here with a note saying; ‘Kind regards, George Miller.’”
But Lloyds is auctioning the vehicles as an entire lot – a spokesperson for the auction house said the current owner was “very specific that the group be kept together” – thus wrecking any possibility of one or two of the monstrous contraptions being adopted by the Mad Max Museum in Silverton.
“Unfortunately, the price for the whole lot is probably way, way out of my budget,” says Adrian.  
“I seriously don’t think Westpac would appreciate the call.”  
Still, with Furiosa, the next instalment in the Mad Max series, set to begin filming next year, there is hope that the next generation of mechanical gremlins will find their way home.  
“Apparently they’re building a new truck for Furiosa, because it’s set before Mad Max 2 and all the other films.  
“Perhaps I’ll get to claim that one when filming is over.”         
For those who can stand it, the auction will be live streamed through Lloyd’s website at www.lloydsonline.com.au

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