America’s Favorite Tow Truck: Mater!


Friendly-looking cars tend to sell a great deal better. Who wouldn’t love to buy Mater’s used engine?

According to studies conducted by marketers people tend to buy cars that have a personality. Friendly-looking cars, by and large, tend to sell a great deal better. If there was a competition for the friendliest car though, then the all-time winner might be Mater, the beater with an engine of gold.
Big Screen, Little Screen

Tow Mater, later Sir Tow Mater, is a secondary character in the Pixar film “Cars”, but he later went on to star in “Cars 2″, as well as in a spin-off series “Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales”. In the first role Mater is the slightly bumbling, hometown boy that the race car Lightning McQueen befriends, and in the sequels Mater takes on roles ranging from a secret agent to a giant slayer. A vehicle of varied talents, Mater has become something of a household name due to the success of both the first film and the subsequent runs on the “Cars” franchise.

What’s Under the Hood?

At first glance Mater looks like just another beat-up tow truck, albeit one with eyes and a trademark drawl provided by famous comedian Larry the Cable Guy. However, while it’s a little hard to pin down precisely where Mater came from, fans and car lovers alike have been hitting the books to try and trace the automobile’s ancestry. The results that people have found are pretty hodge-podge, but when they’re put together into a complete picture, it is Mater to the life.

The core of Mater comes from a Haulitail Hook’Em, though there is some argument among people as to whether the model is a 1951 or a 1957. However, neither model accounts for Mater’s most prominent feature, aside from his love of tractor tipping. That is namely the big arm on the back that supports the cars he tows. That arm and assembly belongs to Mater’s other parent, a 1951 International Harvester L-170. These vehicles were part boom truck and part Chevy 3800, with a healthy dose of one ton wrecker. Though he might be animated, the designers had to take inspiration from real autos in order to put together Mater’s precise look, from the way his chassis curves back to the discoloration of his side panels. Tracking down precisely which makes and models went into his look proved a bit of a challenge though, even for those who have a huge love of cars real and animated.