I have copies of previous books penned by Norm Darwin, – History of Ford in Australia, 100 Years of GM in Australia, and others.
Early Australian Automotive Design (The first fifty years) charts the course of vehicle design from 1895 to 1953. Culminating in a thorough analysis of the design and engineering of the Series 48 Holden (48-215).
The author informs us that this book is his Doctorial Thesis, and this is soon evidenced by the depth of detail and analysis in each of the eight chapters (and 333 pages). There are photo images, charts, diagrams, and engineering blueprints to support the comprehensive narrative. The author first compares Australian automotive design to the world perspective, before piecing together the efforts of individuals (and organising them according to their home state). All this set against a timeline, affected by war and other outside influences. Major milestones and significant individuals are highlighted for their turning point and contribution respectively, and, with some of these folk there are personal details in ‘breakout’ stories, …and again later, in the identification of the Holden design team responsible for the Australian car.
This book is a definitive reference source for anyone seeking to understand early Australian automotive design. A quality publication with high production standards. The author has completed extensive research about this subject and, at times, challenged accepted knowledge of historical events. Indeed, there are numerous occasions where he attempts (and succeeds) to set the record straight, through relentless examination of available evidence. Make no mistake! This is more than a lightweight ‘coffee table book’, … but instead, a detailed analysis worthy of being a definite reference work. However, the dark side of this is, ….that level of factual detail, and the reader focus required to get the most benefit from this book. It requires more commitment, than I feel some readers will summon! Still, I read books to be informed, more than just entertained,….. and this book really delivers!
*(Bemused by the confused title, between dust jacket cover and inside title page)!
Still, congratulations Norm Darwin PhD!
Reviewed by boardmember John O’Farrell.