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Terry O'Hare
(1936 - )  

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.

Terry also built and drove the Waltzing Matilda Jet Truck and claimed a World Record in 1979.

A life less ordinary for jack of all trades
Lawrence Money
The Age Newspaper - November 28, 2011

Terry O'Hare has built it all, from Mad Max cars to teapots.

Terry O'Hare fell asleep on his first date with wife-to-be Margaret, snoozing in his chair at the restaurant table. "Leave him," she said to the waiter with remarkable insouciance and continued her meal.

Considering O'Hare's high-octane life journey so far, his passing weariness that night was hardly surprising.Let's start with the first Mad Max movie he built many of the crazy vehicles in that Aussie cult classic."I got a royalty cheque for $13,000 this year," says O'Hare, who chipped in $10,000 for the original budget. O'Hare has also built buses and armoured cars and launched an aviation company in Queensland.

He was once in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's largest flag. He was logistics manager for Australia's victorious America's Cup team at Newport and in six weeks O'Hare built a jet-powered truck called Waltzing Matilda that claimed a world land speed record in 1979.

He acquired a pottery in Ballarat, transformed an old boat shed 28 years ago into Williamstown's Anchorage restaurant and has since created a floating marina behind it.With his first wife Heather, who died at age 49, he had five children before he was 30. He is now 77 and could be excused for putting up his feet but not this bloke.Now O'Hare has invented a portable water supply for firefighters.And none of this may have happened not here in Melbourne, anyhow if not for the luck of the draw.

Having survived the London blitz, Terry O'Hare was 17 when, on a youthful whim, he and a pal put their names down at Australia House as possible migrants."The Royal Navy office was nearby so we put in for that, too," says O'Hare. "Two weeks later, my mate Ian got into the navy and I got papers to go to Australia. I was on the SS Ormonde a month later." His father was delighted a brother was already in Australia but O'Hare's mother was shocked. "Five years later, I brought them out here," O'Hare says. "I had worked my arse off and bought a house in St Albans for them to live in." Not bad going for a kid who had left school at age 14 with a report that acknowledged an "honest, reliable lad who will make a good challenge".

But O'Hare had an as-yet unrecognised talent with timber and he trained as a cabinetmaker, helping a London neighbour make a wood-bodied car a "woody". He also had a knack with motors and, while working on a cattle station at Jerilderie, built a car with galvanised iron and parts from the local tip. Then he set off to drive to Perth. At Numurkah, he went to the police station, asking if he could register the car and get his driving licence simultaneously. "Does it go?" asked the cop in disbelief and, after a demonstration, told him, "if you can drive that, you can drive anything", and gave him his papers.

After a string of odd jobs and six months in the army under national service, O'Hare decided to build his own "woody" from the chassis of a 1936 Ford. "That was sold before I finished it," he says, "then the ones after that, so I started a business called Re-Car stands for reincarnation. It graduated into truck repairs, went Australia-wide and employed 400 people."

Re-Car sprouted branches, building commuter buses, safari buses for outback tours, security vans and snow vehicles for the Antarctic. At Campbellfield, O'Hare also set up the biggest truck stop in the country, where he first flew his big Australian flag. "It was 48 feet by 24," he says, "but then Dick Smith knocked us off with a 50 by 25, so we made one 60 by 30. But it was so big, it wouldn't fly."

With second son Shane, O'Hare built Whitsunday airport and started an aviation business, Sea Air Pacific. "The airline strike crucified that," O'Hare says. "We sold most of the planes to Paspaley Pearls."

The Terry O'Hare story goes on and on. He bought land in Yarraville and made millions creating an industrial estate, even forming a new road-making company to build the streets. O'Hare owned and raced yachts, sailed with veteran Jock Sturrock, co-built the Project 500 car for an attempt at the Australian land speed record in 1973 and now he has pioneered a firefighting aid called FireFix, made from shipping containers. So how do you define a career like this? Son Stephen says his father always told him: "There is no such word as 'can't'. It's not in the dictionary." When wife Margaret first met Terry and friends asked what he did, she was uncertain. "He builds buses and makes teapots," she would reply.

That's the condensed version.

Source - The Age Newspaper 2012/04/17




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