Lightning McQueen and Mater were in front of the Courthouse when Lizzie drives by. She says good morning to Lightning and Mater in a rude way, but she says it in a nice way to the statue of Stanley. Lightning McQueen asks Mater how Lizzie and Stanley met. Mater replies by telling one of his stories, which "all started last week."
The story starts with him putting up a new town sign with a clock on it. The sign falls on Mater, and the clock ends up on his "nose." Mater sneezes, and then disappears.
He ends up inside the Tail Light Caverns. He exits the caverns to go tell everyone back in town. However, when he does, he can't find the town, but he does see a car at a nearby spring. When Mater gets closer to the car, he discovers that it's Stanley! Stanley asks Mater if he needs a radiator cap. When Mater says no, Stanley leaves to go to California in search of customers. Mater realizes that if Stanley didn't stay, there wouldn't be a Radiator Springs in the future! So, he goes to the present, gets McQueen, and they both go back to the past, where Mater removes McQueen's radiator cap and calls out to Stanley, saying that there's a car that needs a radiator cap (McQueen). So, Stanley gives McQueen a new radiator cap. Two cars that also need radiator caps enter the scene, and Stanley leads them to the spring, where the cars get a "drink." Mater suggests that Stanley build a town right next to "this here radiator spring." Stanley likes the idea, and even comes up with a name for the town right then and there: Radiator Springs. While Stanley was planning how to build the town, Mater and McQueen travel to the future to speed things up a bit.
Mater and McQueen then travel to 1927. Stanley shows them the town. Then, Stanley takes note of a Model T (which turns out to be Lizzie) that arrives in town. Lizzie breaks down, so Mater helps her out. Lizzie sees McQueen and appears to be falling in love with him, and Mater realizes that if Lizzie falls in love with McQueen, then she won't fall in love with Stanley, and then Stanley will leave town, and there'd be no Radiator Springs! But then Lizzie asks McQueen to get out of the way, revealing that she had her eye on Stanley, not McQueen, as Mater thought. McQueen introduces Lizzie and Stanley. Stanley took Lizzie to his spring so that she could get a drink. Then he took her to get a new radiator cap. Then, McQueen and Mater leave.
They reappear in Radiator Springs at the time that Lizzie and Stanley get married. After getting married, they went honeymooning at Comfy Caverns. Then, Mater and McQueen leave, and Mater finishes his story.
McQueen says that there's no such thing as time travel, but then Lizzie comes and thanks McQueen for introducing her and Stanley. Mater says, "And that's how you make history."
- Larry the Cable Guy: Mater
- Keith Ferguson: Lightning McQueen
- John Michael Higgins: Stanley
- Katherine Helmond: Lizzie
- This episode marks the first of several things:
- The first and, so far, only Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales episode with Lizzie in it, and actually the first time she played a role as a secondary tritagonist.
- The first episode without any pitties and without Mia and Tia in it. This may be due to the fact that being modernized cars, they weren't even built (born) yet.
- The first episode not to have Mater say something similar to his line: "Don't you remember? You was there too!"
- The first episode with Lightning McQueen in his World Grand Prix paint job. It is also the first time it has shown McQueen's hood open, showing his motor.
- Tail Light Caverns, Stanley's early settlement, and Comfy Caverns, all places which had never been seen before, are sets that come from Cars Land. Their appearance in the short enables to establish them as canon, and perhaps to promote the attraction.
- This is the second Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales episode that has Mater's story in black and white. The first one is Mater Private Eye. However, in this episode, it's not Mater's whole story that's in black and white. After Mater drives out of the Tail Light Caverns, everything was in sepia tones (a common color tone used in "flashback" sequences). When he and McQueen time travel to when Stanley's early settlement was made, everything was in black and white. When Mater and McQueen time travel to when Lizzie and Stanley get married, the entire color scheme is an homage to the two color Technicolor processes that were used in movies from 1917 to 1936.
- The alternating color schemes used in this story seem to be an homage to how photographs of each particular time period looked. This gave each era that Mater visits its own unique visual identity. It was likely implemented to avoid confusion.
- When Mater puts the sign with the clock up, it then leans towards him and falls on him. This is a reference to the first film when he tries to put his sign upright, but it leans to the other side; and in Cars 2 when he puts the Leaning Tower of Pisa upright, but it then leans to the other side.
- Also, the clock on Mater's "nose" is a reference to Cars 2 when the lemons planted a bomb on his "nose."
- The story of Radiator Springs seen in Time Travel Mater was used before the movie Cars.
- Mater's "Whoa!" when he notices he's in the Tail Light Caverns is the same sound he makes when he sees the moon in Moon Mater.
- The scream that Mater makes when he sees that there would be no town in the future if Stanley doesn't stay is the same scream he makes when he is fighting the I-Screamer in Monster Truck Mater.
- This short is on the Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2 DVD and Blu-Ray.