With the fourth instalment of George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road opening in Australia today, we took the opportunity to get up close and personal with Cranky Frank, one of many unique star cars from the movie.
All told, there are around 120 vehicles that feature in the film – each and every one of them a bespoke creation requiring more than six years to assemble and complete the build, according to vehicle designer James ‘Johnno’ Johnson, who we caught up with for a chat today, at a sneak preview.
This isn’t the first time James has built movie cars, either. He previously worked on the first two Wolverine films, as well as the Angelina Jolie movie Unbroken, preparing cars from the 30s and 40s era.
He has a particular interest in Cranky Frank, however, which he was personally responsible for – up to the point where the designers stepped in to dress the car with all the weaponry, that is.
“We found this magnificent rusted beauty at a Rat Rod show in the country, and simply had to have it, despite its advanced state of decay.
“Underneath all that rust is an FX Holden with a four-intake supercharged Chevy V8 mated to a two-speed Powerglide transmission, which we had to rebuild. It’ll make 300bhp at the treads and weighs less than a tonne. Let me tell you, she’s a bloody handful.
“A unique feature of Frank is the central steering position – that was the hardest part of the build, to be honest – moving the go-kart seat and steering mechanicals to the middle of the car due to the exposed chassis beams rising where the driver usually sits.”
Like all Rat Rods, Frank has a lower than usual roof height, and in this particular case, drastically impairing the driver’s forward vision, according to James.
“Yep, I take my hat off to the stunties who had to pedal this car, as you can’t see shit out of the small aperture due to the super-low roofline and the fact that the driver is looking directly at the 8V92 supercharger,” James added.
The film was scheduled to shoot in Broken Hill, but moved to Namibia in Africa (due to wet weather), which required additional modifications to the cooling system to handle to the heat from the extra loads while driving in the sand.
“Even Frank’s tyres were specially chosen, to suit both the car itself (it’s two-wheel-drive), but also for soft sand. Up front, there’s BFG all-terrains, and down back there’s a generic rally tyre.”
You can check Cranky Frank out for yourself at the Event Cinema complex in George Street Sydney, which will be the home for the vehicle and features a Vmax cinema with the latest state-of-the-art sound system called Dolby Atmos, a 60-speaker unit that provides a unique experience.