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Project 500
Land Speed Jet Car   Project 500
Project 500
Project 500
Project 500
Project 500
Project 500
Project 500
Project 500

Author: Greg Wapling
Photographer: Greg Wapling

Australians Terry O'Hare and Jack McDonald designed and developed the Project 500 car for an attempt on the Australian Land Speed Record in 1973, which at that time was held by Sir Donald Campbell.

Powered by a Rolls Royce Derwent jet engine with custom designed afterburner. Braking is assisted by two specially designed slotted parachutes fitted to ejection tubes at the rear of the fuselage.

Build cost in 1972 was estimated to be $150 000. Engine has 2750lbs of thrust and 4125lbs of thrust when the afterburner was engaged. Although tested for a recorded 378mph, Project 500 was wind tunnel tested at 500mph plus during the design phase of the project.

Designed to break the 500 mph (804 km/h) barrier, the Project 500 car unfortunately never confirmed its potential due to the unseasonal rains that flooded Lake Eyre that year, causing the attempt to be postponed.

Further attempts were planned in subsequent years but, apart from a test run at Lake Hindmarsh in northern Victoria in 1974 where the car reached 378 mph (608.3 km/h), the Project 500 car never completed a competitive run to challenge Campbell's record.

The Project 500 Jet Car has been fully restored in recent years by apprentices at the Kangan Batman TAFE College. It went on display at the Ford Discovery Centre in November 2004 till January 2005. This seems to be the only other time the car has gone on display in its 35 year history.

Project 500 Jet Car specifications

Power Plant: Rolls Royce Derwent jet engine with custom designed afterburner, developing 2750lbs of thrust or 4125lbs when the afterburner is engaged
Top Speed: Wind tunnel tested to in excess of 500 mph (804km/h)
Frame: Custom designed two-part monocoque construction space frame with shear-pin detachable front cockpit
Body: Hand wheeled alloy outer skin designed for maximum aerodynamic effect
Wheels: Specially designed chrome alloy wheels with expanding segmented brake discs
Parachutes: Two specially designed slotted parachutes fitted to ejection tubes at the rear of the fuselage
Build Cost: $150,000 (1972)

Source: Fords Online Magazine

Well there you go, an amazing piece of the long forgotten Australian Land Speed history, unfortunately Terry who still owns the car, wasn't available for me to speak to him when I took the photos of the car, but I will be following him up with a view for a story in future.

Does anybody remember this car from 1974 or have any photos or news/magazine articles from that time?
I'd be very interested in tracking down some more information. You can contact me direct at gregwapling@hotmail.com


British Movietone - Former Korean war pilot Jack McDonald is equally at home in the cockpit of his Rolls-Royce powered jet car. He reaches over 150mph over the quarter mile at Calder Raceway.


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