Obviously, he can't feature every minute detail of Aussie automotive history, but Bryant does a respectable job of covering a lot of ground over the DVD's 80 minute running time.When we first sat down to watch this - during Holden's 60th Anniversary celebrations last year - the opening scenes of presenter and narrator Richard King taking a new Monaro through a winding country road made us fear that this was going to be another Holden-centric effort. Thankfully, there's much more to this DVD than just GM-H, starting with Australia's first true automobiles in the form of Herbert Thomson's petrol phaeton and the Shearer steam car, both of which still exist today.
It was interesting to discover that the Shearer was twice taken to the UK to participate in the famous London to Brighton run (as recounted by one of the restorers who travelled with the car), while the Thomson featured the first pneumatic tyres made in Australia by Dunlop. It's little tidbits of info like this that add to the value of this DVD, and make up for some of the amateur production values like the repetition of images and the annoying faux newspaper headlines. To his credit though, Bryant has gone to the effort of making some simple, yet effective re-enactments to break up the static images that dominate these early chapters.
Harley Tarrant's auto operations are covered, before familiar names, like T.J. Richards and James Alexander Holden emerge, followed by the arrival of Ford as a manufacturer down under, the Great Depression and Australian manufacturing innovation in the lead up to WW II. Up until this point, Bryant relies largely on archival still images and the occasional piece of footage, but post War, he obviously had more to work with, which is interspersed with still and motion images of various vehicles he's shot at car shows.
Post-War, the 48-215 and FJ Holden feature prominently - as you'd expect - but Ford and the British marques are covered.
A lot of production and sales figures of the period are recounted, which may have been better presented in graphic form, although Bryant's budget has obviously been a factor in this.
It would also have been nice to see more on American makes in Australia post-War, but instead the focus is on the home-grown specials created by the likes of Purvis, Buckle and Bolwell.
Bill Buckle himself is interviewed, and provides a first-hand account of the creation of the coupe that bore his name, as well as the Goggomobil. It's not just the Dart, either! The Goggo sedans, coupes and Buckle's largely forgotten Mini-based 'Monaco' fastback are also mentioned.
Stories of the Purvis Eureka and Bolwell Nagari are recounted by owner/enthusiasts, while the comical Lightburn Zeta also rates a mention.
The Aussie muscle car wars, Chrysler's hits & misses, and the growing dominance of Japanese brands follow, while no history of Aussie motoring would be complete without the Leyland P76. Owner, enthusiast and publisher Hal Moloney takes the reins for this part of the story. From there, Australian Motoring History runs out of steam. The 80s & 90s are barely mentioned, and the DVD itself finishes with a brief mention of the energy crisis, fuel efficient cars (ie. the Toyota Prius) and the future of motoring.
Australian Motoring History is a good primer on Australia's automotive origins, with nuggets of info throughout that should appeal to young and old car buffs alike.
For only $25.00 + $5.00 P&H, it's a worthy addition to the auto enthusiasts library, with proceeds from each sale going to Kaleidoscope - the Hunter Children's Health Network.
To order a copy, phone(02) 4954 8608, 0407 781 297 or go to www.kaleidoscope.org.au