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Online Catalogue last updated 17th of September 2023

Memories of a Tractor Man by Ian O'Rourke with Terry L. Probert

Take a journey through the triumphs and debacles that tested our farm machinery industry from 1960 to the early 1990s with this first-hand account

It often seems there are some big gaps of information in the history of farm machinery developments in our local market.

So, when a once skinny kid from the outback town of Burraboi NSW can give us a real live account of the role local built tractors played in farming, we have to be interested and not let our history slip any further.

Ian O'Rourke, who's education began with correspondence lessons could never have imagined his rise through the ranks of the Australian Tractor and Machinery Industry. As National Service Manager of Ford Tractor Operations Australia, his influence stretched from Melbourne to the halls of power in Dearborn, Michigan, USA and across the Atlantic to Basildon in the UK. Filled with wonderful anecdotes, Ian's memoir will take the reader through the O'Rourke family's struggles during his formative years on the farm. His life at boarding school and working with Massey Ferguson as part of their Research and Development team who had been charged with bringing the 585 Header into production. Respected by colleagues and dealers alike, this story takes the reader on a journey through the progress of Australia's Farm Machinery industry from 1960 to the early 1990s

89-year-old Ian O’Rourke who in conjunction with author Terry L Probert has let us into the inner workings of our local tractor history from 1960 to the early 1990s, in a book titled IAN O’ROURKE Memories of a Tractor Man.

Ian relates to how finding a classified advertisement by the Ford Motor Company, looking to expand their presence in the tractor market, came at the right time. And how he, along with many of his Massey Ferguson colleagues migrated in mass to Ford.

Being part of the team that insisted on an annual meeting of national service managers, led to Ford’s engineering departments taking suggestions from the field as part of their ongoing model planning.

Much hinged-on Ford Australia’s stand-alone product the Ford 8401 and how it almost cost General Manager Noel Howard his job.

At the launch of the Ford 8401 much rested on this model being a success.

Noel Howard described how over the past ten years, tractor sales in the 75kW (100hp) plus power range had increased from 5.5 to 36% market share.

In his role as Ford Tractor Australia general manager, Noel Howard said, “Currently we are running at about 11% of the total tractor market, and we believe our new model line-up will move us closer to market leadership.”

The Ford 8401 was something special to all who worked at Ford, as it was styled and engineered by local Ford Australia engineers.

Billed as a six-cylinder 81kW (109hp) 2WD with a naturally aspirated 6.5-litre engine at its initial release, with PTO power of 71kW (95hp), this was the tractor everyone’s job depended upon.

Ian talks about the ructions that ensued along with his role in this iconic and collectable tractor’s development.

About Ian O’Rourke

Living with his wife Gwennie and their dog Nutmeg on a small rural holding in the Gold Coast hinterland and close to their son Anthony. Practical optimist eighty-nine-year-old Ian O’Rourke, has after a life of turning his hand to anything, proved the flame of adventure still burns bright. However, keeping close contact with friends from all over the globe had to take something of a backseat while writing about his life, but with the book now in print he is back to facetiming, ringing and emailing the wide number of friends he has made during a life jam-packed with positivity.

Code No. 018041, 288 pages, ISBN 9780645417845, $65.00

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