Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Straight Out Of Mad Max: How South Africa Used To Sell Flamethrowers As Add-Ons For Cars

Straight Out Of Mad Max: How South Africa Used To Sell Flamethrowers As Add-Ons For Cars

Back in 1998, South Africans faced a serious problem; carjacking. It seemed car owners were losing their cars left and right, so Charl Fourie came up with a rather interesting idea. Known as the “Blaster,” this additional piece was a flamethrower fitted underneath the car to prevent car thieves from stealing it. Seeming like something straight out of the Mad Max franchise, the idea is an interesting one. Not too many carjackers would expect to be met with a wall of flames when trying to steal a car, and with the increasing issue of carjackings, this idea was definitely worth trying.

The video below demonstrates how the device worked.

As dangerous as the device looked, the intention was not to kill the attacker. Rather, it would blind the person.

“This is definitely non-lethal,” Fourie stated. “A person is not going to stand there for a minute while you roast him. It will fend off the attacker, and that’s the end of it.”

The device cost 3,900 rands ($655 USD), and was placed in the car’s trunk. When ignited via the driver flipping a switch, The Blaster would pump liquefied gas from a bottle out through two nozzles attached underneath the car’s doors. Amazingly, this device would not harm the car, only the attacker.

Surprisingly, the first person to install this device was Johannesburg Police Superintendent David Walkley. According to Walkley, “there [were] certain risks in using it, but there are also risks in not having anything at all.”

While it might seem drastic to have to use fire to defend your car, The Blaster was completely legal and safe to use (well, not for the attacker).

The Blaster in action.

When The Blaster was first created, a lot of questions and controversies arose. Buyers argued if purchasing the equipment was necessary since the carjacker was more likely to kill the driver before taking the car. If the thief really wanted to steal the car, there’s a good chance they would not have let a little fire get in their way. So, was it really worth buying if there was a chance the car could be stolen anyway?

The Blaster lasted about three years before it was pulled from the shelves. Only a few hundred of these devices were sold, most likely due to the high cost.

Considering the high rates of carjackings, it’s surprising this device wasn’t widely used. Carjacking rates in South Africa have dropped since the late 90s, but it’s a wonder how much they would have dropped if this device gained the widespread popularity Fourie had intended.