The story of Mater from the Cars franchise.
Mater was one of the cars living in the historic town of Radiotor Springs where he serves as a tow truck. He was blue painted. He was excited about the construction of the Interstate. Apparently, the town got bypassed. Over the years, Mater lost his hood and became rusty.
Mater runs Tow Mater Towing & Salvage. Mater is one of the first people 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 Piston Cup race. In the end, Lightning gives Mater an opportunity to fly in a Dinoco helicopter like he always wanted, saying to Sally that Mater is his new best friend.
Mater is also capable of racing, as well as being the (self-proclaimed) world's best backwards driver. He attributes his skill to his rear-view mirrors and his own philosophy: "Don't need to know where I'm going, just need to know where I've been."
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!", in which Lightning sometimes responds with "What?" or "Huh?", 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.
Each episode includes Mia and Tia constantly fawning over Mater (except Time Travel Mater).
In the series' shorts, Mater tells about his past jobs. His jobs included:
- Daredevil (Mater the Greater)
- Fire Truck (Rescue Squad Mater)
- Doctor (Rescue Squad Mater)
- Racer in Tokyo (Tokyo Mater)
- UFO (Unidentified Flying Mater)
- Bulldozer Fighter (El Materdor)
- Private Eye (Mater Private Eye)
- Auto-naut (Moon Mater)
- Monster Truck Wrestler (Monster Truck Mater)
- Rock Star (Heavy Metal Mater)
- Plane/Falcon Hawk (Air Mater)
- Time Traveler (Time Travel Mater)
Mater returns in the sequel as the protagonist.
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 when Francesco Bernoulli began insulting McQueen on live television. When Mater calls the Mel Dorado show to defend his friend's honor, the more Mater talked, the more Francesco mocked, 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. While collecting drinks for McQueen, Mater mistakes wasabi for pistachio ice cream and takes an entire box-full, only to get a flavor blast from it. His mouth on fire, Mater desperately drove up the waterfall on stage where Miles Axlerod was introducing McQueen to wash out the bad taste. He then noticed an oil leak between him and Axlerod and everyone assumes Mater did it. Despite his protests that he didn't leak, McQueen sends him away to the bathroom to clean up.
Entering the bathroom stall, Mater gets horribly tortured by a Japanese washing contraption, unaware of a fight between an American secret agent and two Lemon cars, Acer and Grem, outside. By the time he gets out, the American agent secretly slips a device underneath his undercarriage. The device's GPS results in British agent Holley Shiftwell mistaking Mater for a spy. After answering her countersign correcting, Mater starts babbling on before mistakenly assuming that Holley wanted to ask him out on a date and agreed to meet the next day. He then returned to his friends to tell him of this development, but Guido doesn't believe him. He then tries calling out to Holley but she ignores him and drives away so she doesn't blow her cover.
The next day, Mater advises McQueen during the Tokyo race, enabling him to get ahead of Francesco. Unknown to Mater, the Lemons assumed he was a spy too and were covertly closing in on him. Holley taps into his headset, giving him directions to avoid the Lemons. Mater followed blindly, assuming he was being guided to his date. He later mishears Holley, turning towards a ruckus instead of away from it. He soon witnesses Finn McMissile fights off the Lemons, which he assumes to be a live karate demonstration. Finn then vanishes, while Holley tells Mater that it's too dangerous to rendezvous and promises to be in touch.
Mater then returns to the pit, only to learn that while he was talking to Holley, McQueen was hearing him too, assuming he was shouting nonsense. He blames Mater "accidentally" messing up the race car's moves and causing him to lose the first race. Mater was hurt by his best friend's rejection and writes a farewell note to his friends before deciding to go home. At Tokyo airport, Finn disguises himself as airport security and lures Mater to a lounge, where he inquires which American intelligence agency he was affiliated with. Mater claimed to be "triple-A affiliated" and started boasting that he knew some karate. Finn then detects Acer and Grem closing in on them and drags Mater outside. Mater assumed he was getting first class service and was completely oblivious the danger.
Once aboard the spy jet Siddeley, Mater figures out that Finn and Holley are spies as they extract data from the device embedded on him, which had information on the Lemon boss, showing a picture of an engine. He identifies it as "the worst engine ever made" but had no clues as to the identity of the car it belonged to. However, he did point out that the mystery car made use of replacement parts that were factory original and wouldn't be found on open markets. Grateful for Mater's insight, Finn offered to set up an informal taskforce. Though reluctant, Mater agreed to HELP out the spies when Finn assured him that he would be helping him. Mater then tried pointing out that he's "just a tow truck" but Finn and Holley don't take him seriously.
Mater joins Finn and Holley as they meet with Finn's black market contact, Tomber. Tomber informed them that the car to whom the engine belonged to only did business over the phone, buying numerous parts to maintain his engine, making Mater suspect that the mystery car was a Lemon. He explained the nature of Lemons to Finn and identified Gremlins, Pacers, Hugos and Trunkovs as Lemons. Finn takes it from there that the Lemon families were taking orders from the car behind this engine. Tomber reveals that the Lemons were hosting a secret meeting in Porto Corsa, Italy, which is also where the second race will take place, and the Lemon boss will most likely be there.
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. Mater then objects to buffing his dents to ensure a foolproof disguise, declaring their worth of his moments with McQueen. The spies realize he was talking seriously about being friends with McQueen and Finn tells him that friendships are dangerous in spy work. Mater again tries to tell them the truth again but they assume he was joking.
Upon arriving Porto Corsa, Mater begins to have second-thoughts about the missions, but Finn tells him to keep up his "act" of PLAYING "the idiot tow truck." These words deeply affect Mater, but he had no time to reflect, as Holley had lured away and tazed Ivan, prompting him to take the blue tow truck's place. As he is towing Victor Hugo through the CASINO, he nearly blows his cover by directly talking to Holley over the radio and reading his HUD on Alexander Hugo's wanted status and nicknames. Upon arriving at the Lemon meeting, Mater takes to the sidelines as the Lemon boss calls the meetings via video. Mater soon discovers the Lemon plot, revealing that the Lemons were sabotaging the race by igniting the Allinol in the racecars' tanks. As Finn and Holley are captured, Mater watches Axlerod on TV declaring a suspension of Allinol for the final race in London. However, McQueen announces that he will use Allinol for the race and admits how guilty he feels over his fight with Mater. The Lemon boss then calls the meeting, ordering Professor Z to kill McQueen and fully discredit Allinol. Mater then accidentally breaks his hologram disguise and allowing the Lemons to identify him, but the tow truck escapes after tearing up the place with his gatling gun and ACTIVATES his parachute 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 confesses to Finn and Holley that he's not a spy and this time they believe him.
Mater then learns from Grem and Acer, two of the Lemons inside the clock tower 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). As soon as the Lemons had left, Mater ACTIVATED his gatling guns to cut through the ropes binding him and races to the track to warn McQueen about the bomb. But when he gets there, Finn calls him on the radio, revealing that the Lemons tricked him, and that the bomb in question was instead inside Mater's air filter! As McQueen returns to the pit and spots Mater, the latter desperately drives backwards to avoid killing his friend, but McQueen chases after him. Mater's attempts to warn about the bomb go misunderstood. As McQueen grabs his hook, Mater accidentally activates his rockets, sending them blasting out of range of Professor Z's detonator. When they come to a stop, Holley reveals the bomb to McQueen as Finn arrives with a captive Zundapp. The Professor admits that the bomb is voice activated, but neglected to mention that it could only be disarmed by the one who activated it under Mater attempts to deactivate it himself, starting a five minute timer. Holley threatens Zundapp, only to learn that he wasn't the one who armed the bomb, shaving off another minute. After Holley tazes Zundapp, the foursome are surrounded by the Lemons, intending to watch the bomb go off. Mater attempts to reason with them, stating that he understands what it's like to be ridiculed but becoming rich and powerful beyond their wildest dreams isn't going to make them feel better. When that failed, the Radiator Springs townsfolk come to their rescue. In the subsequent fight, Mater defends McQueen against the Lemons with his karate.
Guido then attempted to remove the bomb off Mater but none of his wrenches fit the bolts that hold it in place. With only two and half minutes left, Mater has an epiphany, but he hesitates to act on it, as he acknowledges to McQueen that no one takes him seriously and that they aren't in Radiator Springs. However, with some encouragement from his best friend, Mater proceeds to drag his friend all the way to Buckingham Palace, where he tells everyone that he knows who was sabotaging the race and hurting the cars. But when he takes a moment to respectfully bow to the Queen, everyone spots the bomb and go into a blind panic. Finn intervenes before the royal guard could open fire, informing them that Mater can't disarm the bomb, and orders Mater to stand down now. After remarking that that London is nothing like HOME, he is soon reminded by McQueen to get back on topic. He then accuses Axlerod of being the head Lemon. His reasoning was that the bolts on the bomb are the same ones from the Lemon engine on Holley's photo; he also realized that Axlerod didn't convert from a combustion engine to an electric one, hence how he leaked oil back in Japan, blaming it on Mater and he'd probably still have it under his hood. Though Finn and Holley were a bit skeptical, Mater stated that Axlerod wanted Allinol discredited to turn the world against alternative fuels and back to using oil, so he could profit off the huge untapped oil field Finn found. With his bomb only down to the last ten seconds, Axlerod, realizing that his villainy has been exposed and fearing for his life, 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. As Axlerod was left aghast at how a tow truck figured him out, McQueen tells Mater that he's coming to all his races from now on.
Subsequently, The Queen knights Mater for his bravery and outsmarting the villain. Afterwards, Mater and his friends return to Radiator Springs, where he tells everyone of his adventure in a tall tale like story. Though Van doesn't believe a word of it, Finn and Holley show up to prove it. Mater then introduces Finn to everyone but Holley cuts him off, announcing herself as Mater's girlfriend (to Guido's shock). Mater was then pleased to see that Holley receives a dent from their London adventure and decide to emulate him by keeping it.
While watching the unofficial Radiator Springs Grand Prix, Finn and Holley reveal that they want to recruit Mater for another mission, but he declines, preferring to stay home. The spy cars respect his decision. Holley promises to come back and take him out for their first date and Finn offers to give Mater any favor he asks. Mater cashes in on that favor as he receives his rockets back and joins the race.
During the credits, Mater joins McQueen on a world tour before eventually coming back home
Cars Toons: Tales from Radiator Springs
In Hiccups, Mater tries to get rid of McQueen's hiccups by putting his tow hook through a gap in Red's ladder and hang McQueen upside down. Sally, however, gets him to stop and solves the problem by kissing McQueen. However, Sheriff gets the hiccups, and Mater attempts to get rid of them by kissing Sheriff, who tries to keep away.
Mater makes a silent cameo in Spinning, where he joins the crowd to watch Guido spinning his sign.
In The Radiator Springs 500½, Mater dresses up as a Hawaiian person for the "Stanley Days" celebration, getting ready to join a leisurely tour. However, before it can start, Sandy Dunes and his pals arrive to take part in a race against McQueen. As they line up at the start line, Mater gives them directions, telling them to go left when they head towards a herd of tractors in front of a fork in the path, over the rolling hills, past the Cool Pool of Tranquility, through the Tail Lights Caverns and Enchanted Forest, and back to Radiator Springs. As McQueen and the Baja racers zoom off, Mater dresses up as Stanley and leads the townsfolk on the leisurely tour. Mater and the townsfolk soon arrive back in Radiator Springs that evening but find no sign of the racers, unaware that they had actually took a wrong turn at the tractors when Mater told them that turning left is right, which he literally meant "right" as in that it is correct. Eventually, the racers arrive, and Mater asks them if they enjoyed their leisurely drive, to which Sandy remarks that he never thought Stanley would do anything like when they went through all of the different locations compared to the ones on the actual route.
He is also scheduled to appear in the upcoming episode To Protect and Serve.
Mater reappears in Cars 3 but in a smaller role compared to the first two movies. He and Lightning McQueen are still very close, and remains Lightning's biggest supporter. After his big fight with Cruz Ramirez, McQueen calls Mater for support. Initially, Mater doesn't come up with a good piece of advice to help McQueen, who doesn't know what to do or where to go next, until he offhandedly mentions "the person who taught Doc Hudson". Knowing that person to be Smokey, Lightning thanks Mater for his support and goes off to apologize to Cruz and look for him. Mater is also seen wearing several hats throughout the film to celebrate McQueen and later Cruz when the two race at Willy's Butte.