Tow Mater, better known as simply by his surname Mater, is Lightning McQueen's best friend and the owner of the local junkyard in Radiator Springs. Mater also likes to go Tractor Tippin' at night, as it's his favorite hobby. Mater's catchphrases are "Dad gum!", "If I'm lyin', I'm cryin'!" and "Git-R-Done!" (his voice actor, Larry the Cable Guy's signature phrase).
Creation and development
Mater's driving skills include a claim to be "the world's best backwards driver," an ability picked up from none other than Dean Walker, a Kansas History Route 66 Association president known in Riverton as "Crazy Legs Walker, the Ambassador of Crazy Feet on Route 66" for his ability to twist his feet backward and walk in reverse.
"As luck would have it, we had just eaten a sandwich at the Eisler Brothers when we met Dean, He was proud as punch to show them his exorcist feet and regale them with stories of the Ghost Light." - Michael Wallis
The character Mater speaks with a hick Southern redneck accent with a dash of hillbilly twang and frequently uses incorrect syntax. The real-life person who was the inspiration for Mater's voice is Harley Russell from Erick, Oklahoma on Route 66. Harley's natural voice has the same sound and same mannerisms as Mater. Mater's final personality was based on his voice actor, Larry the Cable Guy, and he uses many of Larry's catchphrases, including "Git-R-Done" during the final race sequence and "I don't care who you are; that's funny right there" during the tractor tipping scene. Larry the Cable Guy spent time with Harley Russell to learn the voice for the character.
A Cars "Rev'd Up" DVD released as a 2006 bonus in Target stores describes Mater as inspired by a 1957 Dodge truck.
Mater takes his nickname from construction superintendent and die-hard NASCAR fan Douglas "Mater" Keever, who provides the voice of one of the RV's watching the big race ("Well dip me in axle grease and call me slick!"). The RV's vantage point at the race is modelled on a "Redneck Hill" at Charlotte Motor Speedway favored by hardcore fans in tents and pop-up campers.
In Cars, Mater is one of the first to befriend and support Lightning throughout his adventure in Radiator Springs. During the film, Mater shows Lightning how to do Tractor Tippin' and how to drive backwards without crashing by using rear-view mirrors, which Lightning uses to counter Chick Hicks' dirty racing in the final 2005 Piston Cup race. In the end, Lightning gives Mater an opportunity to fly in a Dinocohelicopter like he always wanted, saying to Sally that Mater is his new best friend.
Later in Chapter 3, Lightning will come to Mater's Junkyard to ask Mater if he can do the backwards driving lesson. Mater says he could do it now. Mater teaches Lightning some rules, like turn his rear tires like they were his front ones. Also, turn right to go left. To make sure he gets it, Mater sets up a game where Lightning must follow him around a course and drive backwards when he does. After the practice, Mater says he did good and even tries to spell his last name backwards by calling him "Mr. Gintil." However, that spells "Litnig," not "Lightning," when it is spelled forward.
Later, Mater was in front of the Rustbucket Stadium banging himself into a wall to get ready for his big race. Lightning drives up, wondering what was happening. Mater tells Lightning what is happening. Then, Tommy Joe drives up and bangs into Lightning, which was his way of saying, "Hi." Mater asks Lightning to help them for the race, but Lightning decides to sit this one out. After the race, Mater earns a boost tank as a prize, and he gives it to Lightning.
One night, Mater plays a series of scary yet harmless pranks on his friends until a blue light begins to haunt him. Mater's final prank is his most successful: Lightning sees a tow hook hanging from behind a stack of cans and, assuming that Mater is hiding behind it, approaches to foil the prank. Mater then jumps off of the roof of Flo's café, screaming behind Lightning, who then is startled and knocks over the pile of cans, revealing that the hook was actually from the sign of Mater's place of business, thus a decoy. Everyone starts to laugh at Lightning for falling for such a trick, and Mater says that Lightning looks like he's seen "the Ghostlight".
Sheriff tells Mater not to mock the Ghostlight, a character of urban legend amongst the cars. The Ghostlight is a glowing orb of blue, translucent light that haunts Radiator Springs, and hates nothing more than the sound of clanking metal -- a sound frequently made by Mater's rickety shell. Sheriff continues to tell the story of a young couple lost in the area, whose only remains were "two out-of-state license plates". He then concludes with an overly cheerful "Well, g'night!". The population of Radiator Springs then leaves within seconds, leaving a very nervous Mater all by himself in the dark.
As he reaches his garage, he is first frightened but then pleads for mercy until he realizes it's just a "lightning bug" (a tiny flying Volkswagen Beetle with bright headlights). As he relaxes, a bright blue glow suddenly appears behind Mater and he goes into a blind panic, driving around in a frenzy, first going along the main road, then going through the tractor field (past Frank), then around Willy's Butte, and doing a lock-strafe move after that, until he is exhausted. However, the Ghostlight was revealed to be a glowing blue lantern to Mater's towing cable hung up by Lightning and Guido.
The short ends with Mater finally collapsing on the road with the rest of the folks surrounding him, revealing the joke to him as retribution for the pranks he did to them. The credits roll and after them, there is a closing shot where the frightened Mater finds he has a huge construction vehicle behind him, snarling and carrying the license plate "Banshee." However, Mater does not realize who it is and warns it of the Screamin' Banshee before driving off, bidding the Banshee good night.
Cars: Mater-National Championship
In Cars: Mater-National Championship, Mater returns as a playable character during Arcade mode. His stats are 2 for boost, 3 for acceleration, 4 for handling, and 4 for stability.
In story mode, Mater is first seen outside of Luigi's Casa Della Tires during the cut-scene for Luigi and Guido's Team Relay 1, where he is talking to Luigi, Guido, Lightning, and Giovanni. He then agrees to be part of the relay race, being on a team with Lightning and Doc. He is later seen wishing that he could be a monster truck like Lightning, and asks Lightning to go look for parts to make him a monster. After becoming a monster truck, Mater breaks through the wall of Luigi's shop, scaring Luigi and Guido. Mater also competes in all of the Rustbucket races, in all of which he is playable. In Tailfin Pass, Mater is seen talking to Lightning, trying to translate what Koji is saying, but cannot figure it out.
Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales
In Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales, Mater is now the protagonist in his own TV series. Each tale begins with Mater telling a story of something he has done in the past (such as him once being a firefighter, a drift racer, a rockstar, an astronaut, etc.).
In the story, Mater finds himself in an inescapable predicament.
When Lightning questions Mater over whether the events in the story actually occurred, Mater responds, "Don't you remember? You was there, too!" and continues the story including Lightning's sudden participation.
The shorts end with Mater leaving the scene, often followed by characters or references to the story that was being told, putting up a possibility that the story might be real.
In the now popular tourist destination of Radiator Springs, the rusty old tow truck Mater has a number of roles, including proprietor of Tow Mater Towing and Salvage, grand storyteller and the heart and soul of the town. But Mater’s favorite title is best friend to Lightning McQueen. Mater values each and every dent he’s earned on his escapades with Lightning over the years, and anxiously awaits further fun with his friend when Lightning returns with his latest Piston Cup.
Cheerful, honest and loyal to a fault, Mater rushes to his best friend’s defense, which ultimately lands the off-duty Lightning in an international racing exhibition: the World Grand Prix. When Lightning invites Mater to come along as a member of his pit crew, Mater leaves Carburetor County for the first time ever.
Not long after their arrival in Tokyo, Mater learns that the world outside of Radiator Springs is decidedly different and its newfangled ways may take some getting used to. But when he’s mistaken for an American secret agent, he falls into an intriguing adventure of his own. Caught between supporting his best friend on a globe-trotting racing competition and his new role in international espionage, Mater ends up in an explosive chase through the streets of Tokyo and Europe alongside a team of British spies and Professor Zündapp's international bad guys.
This happens due to an "oil leak incident" (actually Miles Axlerod's doing). During his mission as a spy, Mater is first blamed by McQueen for "accidentally" messing up the racecar's moves and causing him to lose the first race, Mater is immediately found by Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell at Tokyo airport where they then make a dash toward the spy jet Siddeley while escaping some Lemons who were pursuing them. Mater is then flown to Paris where Finn and Holley tell him about the mysterious Lemon "big boss" who was behind the Lemons' evil plot of the exploding racecars, and that he has to infiltrate the next Lemon meeting, which will be held in Porto Corsa, Italy, which is also where the second race will take place. While taking Stephenson to Italy, Finn and Holley install a holographic cloaking device onto Mater's roof light and has him disguise himself as a Lemon tow truck named Ivan, and upon arrival, Mater, now disguised is sent into the casino where the Lemon meeting is held. Unfortunately, during the meeting Mater accidentally breaks his hologram disguise and allowing the Lemons to identify him, but the tow truck escapes with his parachute and rockets and flies off to warn McQueen about the Lemons' evil plot only to be captured and sent to London (the final race's setting) where he, along with Finn and Holley are all tied to the gears of Big Bentley to be crushed to death. Mater then tells Grem and Acer, two of the Lemons inside the clock tower to let him go after hearing that they have installed a bomb in Lightning McQueen's pit that will kill McQueen upon his arrival (due to their EMP cannon being disabled as a result of Sarge switching the Allinol with Fillmore's fuel) so that he can warn McQueen about the bomb, but upon arriving at McQueen's pit he then realized that the Lemons tricked him, and that the bomb in question was instead inside Mater! Mater then tows McQueen away from the racetrack to save his life, and after a fight between Finn, Holley, the Radiator Springs townsfolk and the Lemons, Mater realizes that the bomb is down to only a few minutes and is actually voice activated and can only be deactivated by the Lemon Big Boss himself. Mater then returns to the finish line where he notices Miles Axlerod in the grandstand in front of Buckingham Palace and tells everyone that Axlerod is the head Lemon and was behind the evil plot of the exploding cars in the first place, as well as leaking the oil puddle back in Tokyo. With his bomb only down to the last ten seconds, Axlerod, realizing that his villainy has been exposed, is immediately forced to deactivate the bomb and is then arrested on the spot. Just right as the police is about to take Axlerod away, Mater opens the Lemon's hood revealing the exact same engine as seen in Holley's photos.
Just before the end of the film, The Queen knights Mater for his bravery and for outsmarting the villain and catching him. Upon returning to the US, Mater returns all of his gadgets to Finn and Holley, but decides to keep his rockets.
Cars 2: The Video Game
In Cars 2: The Video Game, Mater is one of the playable characters in the game, being unlocked by default. His alternate costumes include Materhosen, Tokyo Mater, Mater the Greater, Mater Ivan and Mater Kabuki.
Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure
In Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, Mater appears in the first Cars level, played by one of the kids in the park. He tells the player that Lightning McQueen is looking for a new car in his racing team, which is the player. But first, the player has got to try out, so he/she has to pass the Tow Mater Fancy Drivin' Challenge. Mater says that he designed the course specially so that only the best drivers in the whole world can finish it. McQueen says that he has got great confidence, and that if Mater says someone is good enough, that is good enough for him, before Mater says that it is what the Tow Mater Fancy Drivin' Challenge says, not himself. The player follows Mater through the course before in the ending cutscene, Mater says to the player that he/she is awesome, before McQueen says that Mater is right and that was some of the best driving he has ever seen, before saying to the player that they are going to be a great addition to his team. Holley Shiftwell then appears saying that was a impressive display. Mater then introduces the player to Holley, explaining that she is his girlfriend. Holley then says that their friend, the player, would make an excellent racer, but an even better spy, and that they have a mission that is perfect for the player's speed and talents, before saying that is if McQueen does not mind waiting, before Mater says that McQueen can wait, before he asks McQueen if he will. Mater is heard in the other levels when the player unlocks a new goal that has the player spinning near a semicircle of coins to collect all of them, which he reminds the player to get ready to spin.
In Disney Infinity, Mater is one of the four playable characters from the Cars franchise, alongside Lightning, Holley and Francesco. He shares the same abilities as the other cars, including drifting, boosting, and towing.
Mater's unique toy box adventure is Mater's Tow 'n' Go. He also appears as a toy box townsperson that can be unlocked by opening one of his three chests in the Cars Play Set.
Disney Infinity: 2.0 Edition
In Disney Infinity: 2.0 Edition, Mater returns from the original game as a playable character, with no notable changes other than his max level difference, which is now 20 rather than 15.
Cars: Fast as Lightning
In Cars: Fast as Lightning, Mater is one of the first few unlockable characters, previously appearing only in races that other characters need to complete.
Mater is scheduled to make an appearance in Cars 3.
Mater plays a big role in Cars Land. He owns his own ride called Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. In that ride, Mater will be singing songs to keep the tractors dancing. When the tractors are dancing, they will pull their carts, which have riders in them.
Mater also appears in Radiator Springs Racers. First, Sheriff will call Mater to take you to the race. Mater does that, but takes you tractor tipping. After the guests go tractor tipping, they will wake up Frank, who will chase the guests and Mater away. Then that is when they arrive in Radiator Springs.
After the race, Mater will say that they did a good job. He might say that "you beat McQueen!" McQueen replies to Mater by saying that he was not racing. However, Mater says that people cannot win a race if they do not race in it. Some other phrases are used.
Mater also is seen driving around Radiator Springs, where guests can meet him and talk to him.
Mater's make model/breed is a Haunted Hook/Haulital Hook'em (species, Baby Blue the world's smallest Haunted Hook breed), and a mix of a 1951 International Harvester L-170 "Boom Truck", One Ton Wrecker combined with some pieces of a Chevrolet 3800 and an old 1957 Dodge Truck.
He has a V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor. He can go zero to sixty in ten seconds, with a top speed of 90 miles per hour, with 200 horsepower.
In most of his appearances, his license plate is "A113", a recurring joke in Pixar films. In Rescue Squad Mater, his license plate is "RSQ M8R". In Mater the Greater, his license plate is "M8R GR8R". When he is disguised as Ivan, his license plate is "PN 217-63".
Mater was born with a coat of pale baby blue all over his body, but it can be concluded that he never got a re-paint. Now, Mater is covered in rust and the only visible paint is on his sides and on his rear. He also has a bumper with a yellow and black "caution" logo.
Personality and traits
Mater is extremely friendly, loving, selfless, loyal and sometimes a bit dim-witted. He has unconditional love to everyone and for other creatures too and thinks differently than most people do which proved helpful for convicting Axlerod. However, he can be very smart and at times and clumsy/accident prone. He also has a vast knowledge of all car parts considering his job of towing and salvaging, which proves to be useful in exposing Miles Axlerod true personality and as the one behind the conspiracy to sabotage the World Grand Prix. Although he may seem silly and dim-witted, he has a huge, vast savant-like knowledge of all things towing and repair along with engines, car parts and car types and is a fiercely loyal and loving great friend to all.
Powers and abilities
In the Cars video games, Mater has been portrayed as a stable character, with average speed and acceleration. Cars 2: The Video Game assigns him a member of the "Heavy" class, along with all of his other skins such as his Ivan Mater and Kabuki Mater alts.
Mater has an amazing skill for backwards driving, self-titling himself "the world's best backwards driver". He uses his rear view mirrors for assistance, as they allow him to see where he's going. His phrase is "Don't need to know where I'm going, just need to know where I've been."
Mater has a friendly relationship with the first six of his cousins, in particular Buford, Cletus and Judd, who he spent time with in younger days, when they were bullied by Bubba and one of his friends. In Cars: The Video Game, Cars: Mater-National Championship and Cars: Race-O-Rama, it is shown that Mater enjoys racing and practicing with his cousins.
Betsy and Mater's relationship has not been detailed, as Mater only briefly mentions her to Grem and Acer.
Mater and the town's late founder, Stanley, have the same crooked buck teeth and similar goofy eyes (both have pronounced/droopy bottom eyelids, which most other cars in the film don't have). Also, Stanley's pose in the statue is nearly identical to the pose Mater is in much of the Cars merchandising. From this evidence, some fans speculate the two are related, perhaps that Stanley is Mater's father (which would most likely make Lizzie Mater's mother). Which would mean that Stanley and Lizzie's last name is in fact Mater.
Mater's current and continuing girlfriend is Holley Shiftwell, a spy he met during his travels in Tokyo, Italy and London in 2011. They first met outside of the bathrooms at the Tokyo party, where Holley mistook him for the American spy that she was supposed to be meeting. Due to the mix-up, Mater is mistook as a spy and is brought along with her and Finn McMissile to solve the mystery of who is responsible for the allinol accidents.
Prior to his relationship with Holley, Mater also met Emma, a rally car from England that came to race with him and his cousins at the Rustbucket Stadium in Ornament Valley. After the two compete in the Rustbucket Final, Emma asks Mater to bring her to the best gas station that he knows. It is unofficial if they were truly dating, as Emma does not appear in the series after Mater-National other than a cameo appearance in the portable versions of Cars: Race-O-Rama.
Mater's best friend is Lightning McQueen, the two going back since when Lightning was arrested by Sheriff. Mater looked after McQueen, and after having a conversation with him, Lightning tried to trick him into letting him free, only to be told off by Sheriff. After Mater takes him out tractor tipping in the middle of the night, the two become good friends and start doing more activities together.
Mater is also on very friendly terms with the other people of Radiator Springs, such as Sally, Ramone, Fillmore and Luigi.
Foes and rivalries
As Professor Z and his army of Lemons mistook Mater for an American spy, they treated him as such as and attempted to get rid of him by tying him up in the clock tower after capturing him, leaving Mater to be crushed by the gears. However, Mater escapes with the help of Finn and Holley, and they proceed to defeat the Lemons with the help of Lightning McQueen and the other townsfolk. Grem and Acer also tried to eliminate Mater during the Tokyo race, but failed as they could not get good enough aim at him.
Mater has had many different occupations throughout his life, though some of which may be just imagined in his head, as Mater often exaggerates while telling his tall tales.
"Mater's a good ol' boy with a big kind heart (who he inherited from both his mom and dad) and the only tow truck in Radiator Springs. He runs the Towing & Salvage and manages the local impound lot. Though a little rusty, he has the quickest towrope in Carburetor County and is always the first to lend a helping hand. Mater sees the bright side of any situation (meaning, he always has that sunny disposition). He's the heart and soul of Radiator Springs (meaning the most important guy there and he's the BIG deal), and he doesn't have a mean bolt in his chassis."
Cars: The Video Game
Cars: Mater-National Championship
Paint Jobs: 9
Unlocking criteria: None (Unlocked by default)
Cars 2: The Video Game
"Lightning McQueen's best friend is honest and loyal, though he is occasionally known to share a tall tale with anyone who will listen. His mouth may get him in trouble, but when the chips are down, there's no car Lightning McQueen would rather have on his side."
Weight class: Heavy
"Has Mater ever been to Germany? When he wears this festive outfit, all signs point to "yes!""
Weight class: Heavy
"Though his story doesn't quite ring true, Mater can still light up Tokyo with this sleek customization."
Weight class: Heavy
Mater the Greater
"Nothing says "feats of derring-do" like Mater's stunt driver paint job."
Weight class: Heavy
"Mater's become a master at disguise! Here he is sporting his popular "Ivan" wear!"
Weight class: Heavy
"There is nothing Mater can't do, and no one he can't be! Check out Kabuki Mater race through the challenges!"
Weight class: Heavy
"Don't judge a book by its cover. Mater might be a bit rusty, but he's also got power under his hood. He's built for towing too, so he's one of the more helpful vehicles in the Cars Play Set."
How to unlock
Mater Paint Job
Found in one of Mater's three character chests in the Cars Play Set
Also, he reminds syrnyk (dish) because of his rusty look.
«Like kilometre, but shorter a bit»
A pun on jakon (rusty) and musom (tow truck). This makes sense, as he is a rusty tow truck.
Mater was born on January 12, 1957, as seen on his Cars 2 passport. This is a reference to John Lasseter, whose birthday is the same as Mater's.
One thing to note throughout the series is that Mater's characteristics and loving nature are very similar to that of a Golden Retriever.
John Lasseter wanted to make a movie in which the cars are in fact humans. So, Mater along with all the other cars are carified humans.
If you listen to the way Mater talks real closely, you can see that he talks with a lisp to his voice (as he talks, the air kind of whistles through the gap between his buck teeth) and he doesn't say 'this' he usually says, "dis, dat" and among others along with z at the end of a word like "carz" instead of saying "cars".
Director John Lasseter stated that Mater's pure heart and personality was based on Joe Ranft.
It is noted by John Lasseter that Mater is way too innocent, pure and kind so he can never hurt or harm any soul. He can't even kill a bumblebee without mourning for its life.
Larry the Cable Guy mentioned that Mater isn't self-conscious about how others view him.
His most favorite ice cream is pistachio ice cream.
Mater is one of those sensitive guy types. He tends to act and behave more on the feminine side than a macho strong man.
Also, it is noted in the Cars books like Mater's Birthday Surprise and in Mater and the Easter Buggy that his favorite colors are mostly, blue, green, orange, yellow and most defiantly pink and purple (more of the lighter softer colors). He also likes the color red.
It is said that Mater is a big kid or an over-grown child.
His favorite water park is Kersploosh Mountain (as seen on his blue balloon at the beginning of Cars 2)
As told by John Lasseter in a Mater and the Ghostlight commentary on Blu-ray (on the Pixar Short Films Collection movie), the inspiration came from Don Knotts.
During the last section of the World Grand Prix, Mater is described as the World's greatest backwards driver.
In the credits it is shown that he is knighted on Tuesday, July 15, 2011. However, 15th July in 2011 was not on Tuesday in real life, it was Friday.
Head of story and co-director Joe Ranft got the inspiration of Mater after seeing an old abandoned rusty tow truck during a research trip to Route 66. The character was named after and partly based on Douglas "Mater" Keever, a racing fan the Pixar team met during their research trips, and also draws inspiration from several other people the team encountered.
One of his catchphrases is "Git-R-Done!", his actor, Larry the Cable Guy's signature phrase.
In the Disney Infinity series, Mater has a different horn sound. Additionally, some of his quotes are omitted in the sequels. In the third game, the subtitles do not cover his lines or even some of the 1.0 characters, and a couple of sounds he makes when he side-bashes are omitted.