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Characters / Cars - Tow Mater

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"My name's Mater. Like 'Tuh-Mater', but without the 'tuh'!"
Basis: 1951 International Harvester L-170 "boom" truck

A rusty 1951 International Harvester tow truck. Mater comes off as a simple-minded stereotypical Southern hick, but he is a Genius Ditz, knowing a lot about engines, and can drive backwards using his rear view mirrors. He has a strong crush and affection for Holley Shiftwell and he’s best friends with Holley Shiftwell. He becomes Lightning's best friend and initial crew chief in Cars 2, where he is mistaken for a spy by Finn McMissile.

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  • The Ace: Given all the tall tales he’s told, and proving them to be true.
  • Adorkable: He's so adorable and he's quite the dork.
  • Break the Cutie: In Cars 2, after discovering that others think that he is just clueless and distracting.
  • Breakout Character: He has spun off into his own series of shorts, and even managed to become the main character of the sequel.
  • Catchphrase: Several of which he shares with his voice actor.
    • "Dad gum!"
    • "Fu-un!"
    • "Shoooot!"
    • "Git-r-done!"
    • "I used to be a (insert job here)." (In Mater's Tall Tales)
    • "Don't you remember? You was there, too!" (In Mater's Tall Tales)
  • Childish Tooth Gap: Hence being a southern hillbilly, he has huge buck teeth that protrude outwards and away from each other.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He comes off as slow-witted and silly.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: In Cars, the main character is Lightning, a Hot-Blooded racer who tries to get over his selfishness by spending time in a remote town called Radiator Springs. In Cars 2, the main character is Lightning's friend Mater, a ditzy tow truck who is far more sensitive then Lightning and gets involved in a spy mission.
  • Creepy Mortician: When you think about it, he's a tow truck working at a salvage/scrap yard in a world populated by sapient cars, thus making him their equivalent of a mortician. But he's a genuinely friendly, jovial and nice fella, he is!
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The sequel and shorts definitely elevates him to this.
  • Genius Ditz: Despite seeming rather simple minded, he has very broad knowledge of car parts and engines and can identify any engine at a glance.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Being a Genius Ditz, he manages to figure out Axlerod's involvement with the Lemons and his plot to discredit alternative fuel sources, forcing Axlerod to disarm the bomb.
  • Happily Married: In Cars 3, he mentions having "wedding flaps", which may hint that he's getting married to Holley Shiftwell.
  • Hidden Depths: He reveals in the first film that he used to be a good whistler until he got rusty fluids built up in his engine block. He later mentions in the third film that his cousin Doyle taught him to sing and whistle at the same time, which probably contradicts the former.
  • Humble Hero: Even while getting knighted by Her Majesty the Queen, Mater simply requests that other cars acknowledge him as just Mater.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: During the "Our Town" sequence that shows Radiator Spring in the past glory days, Mater is shown to had cleaner and finer paintjob.
  • Idiot Savant: He's a savant like Rain Man, but mostly in Cars 2.
  • Image Song: "Collision of Worlds" from the second film can be said for his and Lightning's friendship with each other. "Nobody's Fool" also seems to be the musical equivalent of the part in said film when he realizes what he did and feels sorry for showing Lightning up.
  • Incoming Ham: "MORNIN’, SLEEPIN’ BEAUTY!"
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Kinda has a few elements of his voice actor's face, even sharing a famous catchphrase as well.
  • The Hero: Of the sequel.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: He is mostly adored by kids of all ages. Kids just love him because he's so lovable.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Mater is the most sweet-natured and loyal car in the franchise.
  • Knighting: By the Queen of England herself.
  • Large Ham: When he becomes a monster truck in Cars: Mater-National Championship, Mater goes full ham, shouting everything he says and constantly growling and roaring.
  • Last-Name Basis: He almost always goes by his last name, Mater, throughout the films. His first name is actually Towbert or Tow for short.

  • Madness Mantra: Utters one in Cars 2 as he struggles to find an open bathroom stall:
    Mater: I never leak...I never leak...I never leak...
  • Manchild: Mater has the mental/emotional capacity of a small child, even though he's technically an adult.
  • Mistaken for Spies: By Holley and Finn, partially as a result of his fanciful storytelling. Mainly done because their true contact slipped the information on him, and due to his profession he knew the reconnection phrase.
  • Moment Killer: Towards the end of the first film, he shows up in the Dinoco helicopter at the Wheel Well just as Lightning and Sally were about to share their first kiss, and Lightning points it out seconds later.
  • Nice Guy: Very kind-hearted, cheerful, and an incredibly loyal friend to a fault.
  • Nice Hat: Sports several of these at each of Lightning’s races in Cars 3 as a Running Gag.
  • Official Couple: With Holley Shiftwell.
  • Only Friend: The only resident of Radiator Springs who immediately befriended Lightning after he gets lost there.
  • The Pollyanna: Usually has an optimistic and positive attitude.
  • Prone to Tears: He gets very upset over every little thing. He's a very sensitive person and there were signs that he got upset in the first film but he showed more emotions in the second film.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Has these briefly as part of his vampire disguise in Cars 2.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Mater knows everything about engines and engine parts, but in an idiot savant kind of way.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In the sequel, where he's crucial to the plot and even gets top billing.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Has the appearance of a hillbilly dead-on, even having a crazy Southern drawl to match.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While it's ambiguous at best whether they're already married or not yet, his strong relationship with Holley definitely takes this dynamic; a rusting tow truck and a sleek, shiny sports car.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Of his own "Tall Tales" series.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: The Lemons plant a time bomb in his air filter as a backup plan to kill Lightning.

Example of: